Unus Annus is a new channel that wishes to bring its audience hilarious new content every day, but there’s a catch: after one year, the channel and all of its videos will be deleted, as a reminder that everything must die. This channel combats YouTube’s strict guidelines for how videos should be produced with the mature content it brings to its rapidly growing fan-base.
Featured image illustration by Elisabeth Oster
A black screen. A timer ticking down every second, every day. Counting down to the end. One year; that is this channel’s expiration date. The timer appears before a large audience at the beginning and end of every video, revealing to the viewer the time they have left to watch their videos, like, and subscribe before the entire channel is deleted; until everything becomes just a memory.
“Memento mori” is the channel’s slogan, which means the channel itself is a representation that everything comes to an end and dies. The channel is named Unus Annus. “One year” in Latin, which is the amount of time it has until it expires. The timer, and an eerie yet catchy chant that can be heard in the background, is a reminder to Unus Annus’ audience that time for the channel and everybody is running out, so we must make the best of it while we can.
Unus Annus was created three months ago by YouTube personalities Markiplier (Mark) and CrankGameplays (Ethan). The channel was created so the two could make the most outlandish content for more mature audiences without limitations. They gave themselves their only limit: a year-long shelf-life. They release a new video every day, and the bond that Ethan and Mark share is unique. Their personalities collide to create unique and funny content.
They started strong, with their first video being titled “Cooking With Sex Toys.” This video documents Mark and Ethan’s visit to an adult store where they buy many adult toys that they feel can be used in making a proper breakfast, and then go on to hilariously document their adventure in discovering that sex toys are actually to some degree effective at cooking. This highlights the content that Mark and Ethan wish to produce under Unus Annus, for fans who are hungry for this humorous material.
Before discussing the reasons for why this channel was created in the first place, a journey must be taken to the past, before the “Adpocalypse.”
What is “Adpocalypse” really? The Adpocalypse is the current state of YouTube in which it is difficult for a lot of videos to be monetized because YouTube’s policies demonetize videos that are perceived as not being suitable for ads, which is a large and oddly vague category of content. There was once a pleasant time before 2016 when YouTube was not forcing people to create content that was “family-friendly.” While family-friendly isn’t necessarily a bad thing, quite the opposite actually, there needs to be a balance between content for different groups of people. YouTube used to have that balance, with a fair amount of content creators for children, and a good amount of content creators for teenagers and adults. After all, older people desire humor hand-crafted for them as well.
YouTube, in a “we have to please everyone” attitude, changed the way they reviewed content, and nearly everything considered “adult,” even cursing, became subject to the Adpocalypse. This is discouraging one form of content for the sake of another; it separates YouTube’s content creators into two sides. It damages one demographic of YouTubers and viewers while the other side reaps the spoils stolen from the creators who can no longer be monetized under Youtube’s policies.YouTube wanted to make more money, and they believed that by abolishing mature content more companies would come and pay YouTube to play their ads on videos.
However, the entire philosophy of YouTube changed along with this crackdown on content. YouTube was a platform where anybody could post whatever they wanted (except for pornographic material), but now freedom of speech is limited and discourages content creators from engaging with their audience in different ways. It was unfair to the creators and the audiences, because now individual content was influenced by the Adpocalypse. People who made their living off of YouTube were forced to change their videos to the desired format that YouTube wanted.
It should be reverted back to the way YouTube once was as a platform; YouTube should become more inclusive of different audiences, instead of forcing conformity to guidelines on the entirety of YouTubers. Many people believe that becoming more family-friendly is a positive thing, and has intrinsic worth, and I do agree with this opinion. However, I do not agree with the route YouTube has taken to achieve this goal; destroying other content on the platform is not the correct method to promote family-friendly content. YouTube is holding everyone’s hands, guiding YouTubers in their content creation and only showing and suggesting audiences videos that YouTube deems to be appropriate for an average audience.
But this is censorship. Albeit a minor form of censorship, it is still considered as such because it is a suppression of content within the platform, for content creators and viewers alike.
Having said that, three years later, under the same strict YouTube policies, a warrior has risen to combat these changes. Unus Annus was created just for this very purpose; and who better to create it than Markiplier and those he has worked with? Who better to create it than someone who was personally affected by the Adpocalypse on such an intense level? He had around 15 million subscribers at that time, and his content wasn’t necessarily appropriate for children; there was cursing, and some of the games he played were, well, uh, not appropriate to say the least.
Markiplier was known for his let’s plays (a category of gaming in which YouTubers record videos of them playing video games) on horror games; these games come with a lot of cursing in themselves, but when someone is playing them, unexpected jumpscares can cause one to shout curse words as well.
These moments were what drove people to watch creators such as Markiplier, Jacksepticeye, and PewDiePie, because it’s funny to watch someone get scared. However, YouTube’s new policies hindered the ability for all creators like the ones mentioned to create this content because it is not considered “kid-friendly.”
Three years after the beginning of the Adpocalypse, Unus Annus was created to give rise to a new strategy against YouTube’s algorithms. It is quite genius, and relatively easy to understand. The purpose of Unus Annus is to fly out of sight from YouTube’s “AI,” if you will, traveling simply by word of mouth. Since YouTube will not promote the channel’s content, since it is mostly mature content, Unus Annus relies on the channel’s viewers to spread the word.
And it has worked! Unus Annus has only been around for approximately three months, and has more than 2 million subscribers to its name. And it is rapidly increasing with each new video. While this channel is great for viewers, because it gives them content they haven’t been able to see in years because of YouTube’s new policies, it is also wonderful for those making the videos. It allows for the ultimate creative freedom, and gives Mark and Ethan a ground to portray their comedic talents.
But as we know, YouTube is their job, so how do they get around the revenue crisis of YouTube not branding their videos with ads? Well, this is one of the reasons why Unus Annus is genius; by creating a channel whose influence is spread purely through word-of-mouth, the channel collects only those who are willing to support the channel and all of its ideas. In doing so, the channel gathers those who would buy the channel’s merchandise. The merch only lasts for a year as well! All of it will expire along with the channel, so that’s also an extra incentive to get people to buy.
Unus Annus. A mysterious warrior fighting against YouTube’s policies and algorithms. We have only one chance to join the channel in its fight. So . . . will you join them?