There’s a primordial, deep desire behind all those Out of Context videos on Youtube lately.

You know the ones. Compilations of quick scenes, or cut-up single moments that make you laugh or your eyes bulge in confusion. Dudes make entire Youtube careers out of these out of context videos.

No matter whether or not you’ve seen the source material being context-stripped, these things still work. Because humans just have a real fondness for this sort of thing.

For someone who’s never seen a piece of media, and watches the out of context videos for it, the main purpose is confusion. Characters say crazy stuff, do weird things, and big events happen, but we have no idea why. Our minds immediately start speculating–What kind of story is this going to be? How in the world did they end up in THIS situation? You get to explore a story you’ve never seen, maybe even something you never intend to watch or play your whole life. But you get to imagine the context, fill in the blanks. Whatever your imagination brings you, it’s probably funnier than the actual context.

For someone who’s already a fan, out of context videos are basically like a free comedy-filled recap. You get to see moments and lines you remember really fondly, served up in the dumbest way possible. Sometimes, you’ll find a scene so shocking you can’t even remember the context–then when you look it up, you go, “Oh wow, I blocked this whole thing out of my mind before. What a wild story.” And then you get to imagine what non-watchers are thinking when they watch the very same clips.

It’s basically a win-win for people making them. People get curious over a story, or they get to fondly remember something they already enjoy.

It’s something no other species on Earth is capable of–finding amusement in ignorance. Knowing you are unaware of something, and reveling in it like it’s funny somehow.

It reminds me of that middle school day when I watched AMV Hell 3 for the first time.

Old AMV Hells and Youtube Poops and stuff, very often traded in the same vibes as modern out of context videos. Making ridiculous funny scenarios out of often really obscure media, and then trying to figure out what the heck that obscure media was actually supposed to be about originally.

I discovered a lot of anime and manga series first through watching AMVs, and I bet a lot of other people around my age did too. Some of my teenage classics like Azumanga Daioh, Lucky Star, Strawberry Panic, and even Haruhi Suzimiya, I first encountered through stupid compilations like these.

And thanks to copyright destruction, those videos aren’t really even around anymore, which is sad. But at least it seems like these out of context videos are here to stay, just as long as the copyright holders can claim ad revenue on all of them.

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