This article was originally published in OPENWIDE back in 2015, and was written by Samah Ali
It’s hard to deny a relationship between university and nightlife, they go together like peanut butter and jelly, or for others, like peanut butter and Nutella. Western is no stranger to the party culture that is pervasive in universities. But what happens when this party life is distributed on a different platform and shared to people we don’t know? YouTuber Pat Greenall has earned his local celebrity status from his infamous drunken interviews on Richmond Row, Homecoming, and in front of well-known bars in London.
This has been done before, the popular Youtube channel I’m Schmacked features a variety of videos of American university nightlife and drunken interviews. Although he was unaware of the Schmacked-phenomenon in the States and was more familiar with the work of Steve Green and Kaseem G, Greenall admitted to using London nightlife to his benefit. The method already worked, so why not apply it to something more local and relatable? The popularity of London’s bar scene translated into a popularity of his videos. When given a toolbox, use all the tools in the box, right?
Some may say his videos take advantage of drunken students while others see the light in his comedic approach and love what he’s doing. Despite the endless debates on his videos, he’s just having fun.
After watching a few of his videos and hearing criticism from students, I realized Greenall’s character was being attacked based solely on his videos. Out of interest, I decided to sit down with him and give him an opportunity to reply to these comments instead of leaving it up to his viewers to guess what his intentions are with his videos.
Some concerns with Greenall revolve around the exploitation of drunken students, however most people who are in the video, chose to be interviewed. “I make sure whoever wants to be in the video, wants to be in the video” and due to his increasing popularity, Greenall stated there have been lineups of people waiting to be interviewed. Even though he does explain what his videos entail and where they will be posted, one may question the difference between drunken consent and sober consent. Even though students may be interested in being in his videos, how does one gage if they are coherent enough to make this decision? When asked he stated, “Before the camera starts, I tell them this is what I do, this is what I’m going to do, and I know you’re drunk now, but you won’t be drunk tomorrow and you’re going to see it.” He still makes the final call on the footage after giving as much information as he can. He discussed how he navigates through sober wishes to no longer be in the video through creative facial block outs.
His unforgettable line “Would your father be proud of you?” raises other questions about his videos. Why does he only ask women this question and why are most of the people in his videos women? When asked, he gave a creator’s perspective, “I don’t target females, but surprisingly females have been giving me the funniest reactions,” and due to his recognizable status women are usually the ones to approach him and ask to be interviewed. He acknowledges the backlash he’s received from using this sexist line, however he states the comedic value of it. He repeatedly mentions his attempts of walking the line and making his videos edgy enough for viewers to keep talking, watching, and subscribing. It might not be funny to everyone, but a creator’s videos reflect their tastes. His videos are a part of a larger media system that still reinforces gender roles, and it takes a great deal of education and creativity to produce content that is progressive while being accessible to mainstream viewers. It’s not impossible, but the genre of comedy prank videos on Youtube is less likely to provide it.
Keep in mind he is coming at these questions from the perspective of a Youtube creator not a media critic. Greenall is aware his videos are controversial to some, but states his intentions are purely comedic while acknowledging that comedy is fair game for critique and not excused from serious analysis. He uses Western’s “party image” to his advantage, but has no intentions of reinforcing a demeaning image, even though that is a by-product of his videos. There are aspects of his videos that are problematic, but Greenall is not to take on the full blame for his videos that exist within a larger troubled media system. As someone who gets his inspiration from other Youtubers, he’s bound to reproduce the same flaws. He answered the questions like a creator should, thinking about the immediate results and comedic aspect of his content. And despite the haters, he looks to branch out into different video formats for his channel. “I know I piss some people off… but that’s the risk you make when you post something you like to do.” As long as Greenall is open to hearing critiques of his videos – which he was very receptive and open to – his content will grow in all the right ways.