Cringe reaction videos are not cyberbullying

Hannah Holliday | Cartoonist

Comedy can be controversial. Not everyone is going to laugh at the same jokes as you and some people may even find a joke offensive that made you laugh so hard you peed a little bit.

Sometimes, comedy can cross a fine line that divides what should be joked about and what shouldn’t. It may be difficult to define where that line ends and what jokes may even go into bullying territory.

The 29-year-old YouTuber and comedian, Cody Kołodziejzyk, has been accused of crossing this line twice now.

Although the Canadian YouTuber makes fun of controversial videos, he has in no way crossed a line when it comes to comedy. The people he makes fun of deserve to be roasted.

The alleged cyberbully, better known as Cody Ko, first gained a following for short comedy skits on the late, beloved video sharing app Vine. After Vine ended its reign, Ko moved over to YouTube like other successful creators who had lost the six-second video sharing site.

However, Ko is unique compared to many of his fellow Viners. Many other comedians and influencers lost touch with their audience and started making awkward and ‘cringey’ content.

One of these influencers, Lele Pons, is frequently criticized for making videos targeted towards a younger audience and with a childish sense of humor while also making overtly sexual references.

Humor like this should not be normalized, so making fun of her content will prevent other people from following in her footsteps and her type of comedy from becoming socially accepted.

Now, Ko is most well known for making videos reacting to ‘cringey’ content such as these, from cheesy music videos to inappropriate Instagram comedians, with his friend and other former viner Noel Miller.

In addition to videos about Lele Pons, other “That’s Cringe” videos on Ko’s YouTube channel criticize the Christian YouTubers Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird, who make up “Girl Defined.”

Some of the videos they watch in the video titled “THAT’S CRINGE: Girl Defined Edition” include “Is it Okay to be Obsessed with Guys?” and “6 Guys You Shouldn’t Date Court or Marry” (both of which have been taken down since then).

In reaction to the first video, Ko and Miller say that they interpret what the YouTubers called “obsession” with boys as just part of growing up and natural teenage hormones. In the latter video, they mock the sisters’ advice and said it was “condescending,” before they both declared they had been one of the negative archetypes “Mr. Struggle” at some points in their life.

Their criticism brings another perspective to a video that previously only shared one side. These comments are not cyberbullying; they just have different opinions which are based on their opposing belief systems.

The Dobre Brothers, four YouTube personalities whose ages range between 20- to 26-years-old, called Ko out for “cyberbullying” and challenged him to a boxing match in a recent video.

“All of us are being bullied by this kid named Cody Ko. He’s just a bad person,” said Marcus, one of the Dobre brothers.

The brothers’ video in response to Ko’s criticism “I CHALLENGE CODY KO (cyber bully) TO A BOXING MATCH!” has over 74,000 dislikes and 25,000 likes.

The disproportionate amount of likes to dislikes not only show the loyalty that Ko’s fans have towards him, but also the general dislike many users on YouTube have toward the brothers.

Ko is simply stating what many other audience members are already thinking; that is why so many people find his content funny. Ko and Miller make jokes about YouTube and our generation’s culture that everyone is thinking about but too scared to say out loud.

Ko acknowledged their challenge in his video “I was challenged to a fight.” He mocked their hypocritical message on their own content being “spreading positivity” as they dared him to fight them.

This difference in temperament and tone shows that Ko is not a bully. He doesn’t agree with the brothers and he’s drawing attention to the aspects of their video that his fans and other YouTube accounts already noticed.

“I am about being family friendly and positivity and kindness,” Ko said.

Ko proceeded to make a song with a happy, lighthearted beat out of all the hateful comments filled with cuss words that the Dobre brothers’ young fans left on his own YouTube videos.

His approach to this hate is light-hearted and humorous rather than aggressive and threatening. While the Dobre brothers and Paul react to criticism with threats of violence and whining, Ko brushes it off and continues to make content that he is proud of and that his viewers enjoy.

Many of Ko’s most popular videos are about 22-year-old millionaire and internet personality Jake Paul, which are part of his “That’s Cringe” series with Miller.

In an episode of Ko’s and Miller’s podcast, called “Tiny Meat Gang,” Ko mentioned that some of his most popular uploads, which reach an audience mostly made up of 18- to 24-year-olds, poke fun at the Paul brothers’ content, which reaches a much younger audience on YouTube.

Paul called out and confronted Ko for cyber bullying him and his brother Logan in a YouTube video, “confronting internet bully cody ko” he uploaded last summer.

“There’s this d——bag named Cody Ko, and we are about to f—k his life up,” Paul said at the start of his video, before showing examples from Ko’s videos that he believed to be cyberbullying.

Some of these examples included Ko making fun of the absurdity of Instagram comedians who make unnatural and overly sexualized comedy sketches.

In one video, Ko made fun of Logan Paul dressing up as a minion from the movie “Despicable Me” for a music video and questioned who allowed that to happen. This prompted Paul to question how Ko was human for having that much hatred towards another person.

While both Ko and Paul cuss and reference some more PG-13 rated content in their videos, Ko has a generally positive demeanor while Paul is typically aggressively yelling at his fans to like his video through the camera.

Another popular subject of a “That’s Cringe” video, Matt Mauviel (known online as Matty Smokes) had his YouTube account for a while for featuring teens vaping after Ko made the video. However, Mauviel thought the video making fun of his channel was funny and has actually met both Ko and Miller in person since then.

Mauviel reacted the way Paul and the Dobre brothers should have; he shrugged it off and was able to laugh at himself. He has even defended Ko online several times since people started calling him a cyberbully.

Ko’s jokes may be blunt and straight to the point, but he does not cross any lines that shouldn’t be crossed in comedy.

The people he makes videos about are either making poor decisions, treating others badly and/or have a large enough following that a few jokes about their content on YouTube should not make a difference.

All of these YouTube personalities and influencers placed themselves in the public eye when they started uploading their videos to YouTube. If they are going to succeed and continue to thrive in this current online culture, they must be able to take criticism without threatening violence.

Ko can take the hate. So why can’t all of these other YouTubers withstand a little bit of criticism?