YouTube fame comes and goes. YouTubers rise in popularity and fade away. But some stay around for a long, long time.
Let’s flash back to a simpler time, when YouTube was but a budding media-sharing website. This was the era when many names emerged as some of the first “famous” YouTube channels. And one of those channels, started in 2005, was Smosh.
The channel was started by childhood friends Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox, and it was initially filled with videos of the two lip-syncing to various songs. Later, they started uploading comedy sketches that spanned all sorts of genres—and the channel still uploads such sketches to this day. The channel quickly became one of YouTube’s most famous in its time, becoming the first channel to ever pass the 100,000-subscriber milestone and holding the record of most-subscribed YouTube channel over the span of a few different periods before PewDiePie surpassed them in 2013.
With a loyal fanbase, it might come as no surprise that Smosh is still around with over 1,700 videos on its main channel alone. But Smosh’s survival into 2023 is not without its bumps.
In 2011, Smosh was acquired by the now-defunct Defy Media, which provided the channel with stability and helped it expand to a larger audience. However, the acquisition would cause Padilla to leave Smosh to pursue independent creation, citing a “lack in creative freedom.”
Defy Media shut down in 2018, putting Smosh at risk for the same, before it was acquired soon after by Mythical Entertainment, a company operated by Good Mythical Morning hosts Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal.
And in June 2023, Smosh made waves once more when Padilla returned to the channel after he and Hecox purchased a majority stake in Smosh back from Mythical Entertainment, and the two continue to upload at least one video per week to the time of this review’s posting.
Padilla and Hecox just want to make their viewers laugh, and there’s something to be said about the duo being able to accomplish that for so long. Even after Padilla’s absence and return, the two have remained friendly with one another, a testament to their passion for the channel and their friendship.
The two have used their fame and fanbase to raise money for charity.
Plenty of swearing is used. F-words and s-words are usually cut off or censored, but other words, including crudities for male and female genitalia, are uncensored. We also hear words like “a–,” “h—” and “b–ch” frequently. God’s name is also taken in vain.
Many videos use sexual humor as the punchline for jokes. Women in bikinis are present in many videos, and we also see men and women depicted as naked with censored bars over their critical bits. Other jokes reference male arousal, sex toys and more.
People die in some skits, complete with fake blood. In one skit, Hecox tells a prominent Nintendo villain that he should have been aborted. In another skit, Hecox electrocutes Padilla by attaching cables to his nipples.
A couple skits poke fun at Christian things like youth pastors and what heaven is like. In one video, the two summon a demon in order to get Taylor Swift tickets. Other videos mock spiritual things like Paranormal Activity and voodoo dolls.
There aren’t many YouTube channels that can offer a sort of nostalgic factor for viewers. To put it bluntly, not many channels have survived long enough to earn it.
But Smosh has earned it. It’s been around long enough that I remember hearing the channel’s name when I was in middle school. In fact, were it an American citizen, Smosh would be old enough to vote.
But let’s remove that nostalgic bias for a second, because like the channel’s age indicates, Smosh has quite a bit of content on it that parents will likely feel is too adult for their children, including sexual jokes and references as well as frequent swearing.
Which may just mean for some of us that nostalgia isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Kennedy Unthank studied journalism at the University of Missouri. He knew he wanted to write for a living when he won a contest for “best fantasy story” while in the 4th grade. What he didn’t know at the time, however, was that he was the only person to submit a story. Regardless, the seed was planted. Kennedy collects and plays board games in his free time, and he loves to talk about biblical apologetics. He doesn’t think the ending of Lost was “that bad.”