When I saw that “Explain Like I’m 5,” the oft-cited rallying cry for complex topics on Reddit, was becoming its own web series, I thought. “Nice!” Now that I’ve seen it, I’m like, “Alright.”
The concept is sound: Take a series of complex topics and break them down into easy-to-digest kernels of information. Stuff so easy, a 5-year-old could get it. Sounds good, right?
Well, the issue is that in order to maximize the “cuteness” factor of it (or something), they actually have a gaggle of 5-year-olds that they’re attempting to educate. And those kids are annoying as fuck. Unsurprisingly, they have no interest in learning about Friedrich Nietzsche or existentialism, which completely blows it for the rest of the class, i.e. those of us out in internet land. This is like having the guy who is a class clown when you are in college. You’re like, “Hey, can shit wiseass, I’m trying to learn here!” Meanwhile, this little Happy-Meal-gobbling moron can’t even say existentialism right. Ex-is-ten-tial-ism — it’s five lousy syllables, you tow-headed monkey.
Also, I’m not in love with the hosts. They seem a little bit smarmy. But then, I just shit-talked a 5-year-old so maybe I’m not the best judge of good character.
While YouTube has funded the Reddit effort, it doesn’t seem like it’s a case of one supertech biz scratching another’s back. YouTube has funded three clips — Nietzsche, the Syrian crisis, and the volatility of the stock market. And it looks like those will be the only three clips. According to Reddit general manager, Eric Martin (via The Hollywood Reporter), “the series marks an experiment to encourage the site’s users to create web video rather than a larger foray by the company to get into original web programming.” Meaning, they are giving you an example, it is up to you all to take the reins and create further web properties.
They encourage by doing — how Kindergarten of them.