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YouTube comedian Gus Johnson is tired of everyone acting as if they’ve never heard “Bohemian Rhapsody.” It’s fair point—even if it’s wrong.
In a video posted on Friday, Johnson attacked the reaction video genre, where users film themselves “reacting” for the first time to popular entertainment. More specifically, the recent flurry of people filming themselves apparently listening to Queen’s 1975 A Night At the Opera epic for the first time. Since the biopic is in theaters, Johnson theorizes, these creators are just trying to generate timely clicks.
“Have you not heard of Queen? Have you not heard of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody?'” he said in a viral video uploaded on Friday. “One of the most popular, popular songs of all time?”
Johnson said there are “genuinely hundreds” of these Queen-specific reaction videos “that are getting tons of views” and “all of them are from people pretending … and all of them are lying.”
However, Johnson is probably wrong in his assessment that these videos are all lying for the #views. Most of them are from Black creators. Many of them are young. Culture is not a monolith like it was even 10 years ago. For decades, pop culture has been sharply divided across racial lines in the U.S. Plus people just miss certain things—there are likely millions of white Americans who never watched Star Wars, dude, relax. He at least hints at this blind spot in his video.
“Here’s the thing … we’re trying to think of a way to say this without seeming racist: Everyone is Black,” he said. “I don’t know what this proves. I’m just confused.”
Well, it shows that a British rock band that hit its critical apex more than 40 years ago in a musical genre that is on its last legs of mainstream relevance and matters less than rap songs performed by breakdancing teenagers in Korea may not cast as wide a net as a white guy in Wisconsin thinks. To Johnson’s credit, he’s more baffled than angry.
“There’s no moral to it. They’re not, like, degrading the platform. Or convincing children to buy shit. But why is everybody lying?” he says. “Susan Wojcicki, get on this. Everybody knows who fucking Queen is.”
Ramon Ramirez is the news director, and formerly the Dot's entertainment editor and evening editor. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, Grantland, Washington City Paper, Austin American-Statesman, and Austin Monitor.