ContraPoints

Natalie Wynn (born October 21, 1988) is an American YouTuber and political commentator. She is best known online as ContraPoints, with over sixty million views on her YouTube channel.[4]

Natalie Wynn
ContraPoints
Wynn in 2020
Personal information
Born (1988-10-21) October 21, 1988 (age 32)
Education
OccupationYouTube personality
YouTube information
Channel
Years active2008–present
Subscribers1.46 million[1]
Total views67.7 million[1]
YouTube Silver Play Button 2.svg 100,000 subscribers 2018[2]
YouTube Gold Play Button 2.svg 1,000,000 subscribers 2020[3]

Updated: September 17, 2021

Wynn has around thirty video essays on her channel, all exploring a wide range of topics such as politics, gender, ethics, race, justice, envy, social criticism and philosophy. Her videos often provide counterarguments to right wing conservative political argumentation and talk about modern social issues such as class inequality, LGBTQ rights (particularly trans rights), cancel culture, and modern internet culture. Her videos have received widespread media coverage for their intricately designed sets and costumes and for their darkly humorous tone, which has led The Verge to call her the "Oscar Wilde" of YouTube.[5] Wynn won a Streamy Award for "Commentary" in 2020 in recognition of her videos.[6]

Early lifeEdit

Wynn was born on October 21, 1988, in Arlington, Virginia,[7] and raised in the same state.[8] Her father is a psychology professor and her mother is a doctor.[9][10] After studying piano at Berklee College of Music,[11] she attended Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and studied philosophy, then enrolled at Northwestern University in Illinois to pursue a PhD in philosophy, also serving as an instructor.[8][10][12][13] She left Northwestern, saying "The idea of being an academic for the rest of my life became boring to the point of existential despair," and moved to Baltimore, Maryland for a relationship, which ended up failing.[8][14] After quitting her PhD program, Wynn wrote fiction, taught piano, and worked as a paralegal and copywriter, eventually deciding to begin making video responses to the alt-right and Gamergate on YouTube.[15]

YouTube careerEdit

Wynn started publishing YouTube videos in 2008, initially focusing on criticism of religion and her position as an atheist and skeptic. In 2016, she began the ContraPoints channel in reaction to the Gamergate controversy and the increasing prevalence of right-wing YouTubers, shifting her content to countering their arguments.[8][12][16][17] Early ContraPoints videos also covered subjects such as race, racism, and online radicalization.[8]

In her videos, Wynn uses philosophy, sociology, and personal experience to explain left-wing ideas and to criticize common conservative, classical liberal, alt-right, and fascist talking points.[12][18][19] Wynn's videos often have a combative but humorous tone, containing dark and surreal humor, sarcasm, and sexual themes.[12] She often illustrates concepts by playing different characters who debate one another.[2] The videos have been noted for her production choices such as dramatic lighting, elaborate costumes, and vibrant aesthetics.[20] She borrows some aesthetic cues from drag performance, joking in a 2019 interview that if conservatives were going to call her a drag queen anyway, she might as well "be the most extravagant drag queen on YouTube."[21] In a 2018 interview for The Verge, Katherine Cross notes a significant difference between Wynn in-person and how she presents on YouTube, explaining that the YouTube channel portrays an image of being "blithe, aloof, decadent and disdainful", whereas personally Wynn "can be earnest—and she cares deeply, almost too much."[22]

Wynn has said:

I didn't want to be the person who was just making videos about social justice videos on YouTube... to me it was like, I may as well be lecturing again. I tried that and I hated it and I don't want to be that person.[23]

The video channel is financed through the crowdfunding platform Patreon, where Wynn has been among the top 20 creators on the site.[24][25] As of February 2021, Wynn had about 14,000 Patreon supporters.[26] In a podcast interview with Chris Hayes, Wynn stated that she does nearly all the production work for her videos herself, including writing, research, camera work and video editing.[27]

ReceptionEdit

Wynn's videos have been praised for their clarity, nuance, and attention-grabbing sense of humor.[8][2] Jake Hall, writing for Vice, called Wynn "one of the most incisive and compelling video essayists on YouTube".[8] In an article contrasting her personal sincerity and her ironic sense of humor, The Verge describes her as the "Oscar Wilde of YouTube."[22] New York magazine states, "ContraPoints is very good. Regardless of the viewer's interest or lack thereof in internet culture wars, YouTube Nazis, or any of the other wide-ranging subjects covered in its videos, they're funny, bizarre, erudite, and compelling."[12] Nathan J. Robinson of Current Affairs calls ContraPoints a "one-woman blitzkrieg against the YouTube right," describing her videos as "unlike anything I've ever seen ... She shows how debate should be done: not by giving an inch to poisonous ideas, but by bringing superior smarts, funnier jokes, and more elegant costumes to the fight."[2]

Media often describe the channel's content as uniquely suited to a millennial audience, due to its humorous style and its direct attention to online culture.[2][20][28] Her analysis of fascists' use of memes and coded symbols has been cited by the Southern Poverty Law Center in an article explaining the right-wing use of the OK sign.[19] Journalist Liza Featherstone recommends the channel as well, saying that she does a "fabulous job" acknowledging her opponents' valid points while debunking weak arguments and revealing the influence of a sometimes-unacknowledged far-right political agenda.[29]

In November 2018, after a ContraPoints video about incels reached over one million views, The New Yorker released a profile of the channel, describing Wynn as "one of the few Internet demi-celebrities who is as clever as she thinks she is, and one of the few leftists anywhere who can be nuanced without being boring."[30] The Atlantic praised Wynn's use of "lush sets, moody lighting, and original music by the composer Zoë Blade" and opined of her videos that "The most spectacular attraction [...] is Wynn herself."[28] Polygon named her video on incels one of the ten best video essays of the year 2018.[13] In May 2019, she topped the Dazed 100 list, which ranks people who "dared to give culture a shot in the arm."[31]

The ContraPoints YouTube channel won Best Commentary at the 10th Annual Streamy Awards.[32]

Pronouns controversyEdit

In September 2019, Wynn described on Twitter feelings of awkwardness when asked in some contexts to describe her preferred gender pronouns.[33] The tweets were criticized as dismissive of non-binary people who use pronouns other than "he/him" and "she/her".[34] Contrastingly, professor Lal Zimman opined about pronoun introductions, "Wynn is absolutely right that people engage with that practice in ways that can be somewhat problematic".[33] Following constant negative harassment, Wynn deactivated her Twitter account for a week, then posted an apology.[34] Shortly after, Wynn's video "Opulence" featured a quote from John Waters read by transsexual pornographic actor Buck Angel,[35] whose views on transgender and non-binary people have attracted criticism, including by some who see Angel's views as being transmedicalist.[34][35] She was criticized for featuring Angel, including by journalist Ana Valens. Wynn, as well as other YouTubers associated with her channel, were widely harassed.[34][35]

Wynn's January 2020 video "Canceling" addressed both criticism and harassment of her, and the broader context of perceived "cancel culture". It was praised by Robby Soave of Reason.[36] In a Guardian interview on her January 2021 video "J.K. Rowling", in which she addressed cancel culture again in the context of trans-exclusionary radical feminists, she expressed general disinterest in canceling anyone, and said that valid criticism needs to be handed out constructively so as to educate people.[9]

Personal lifeEdit

Wynn is a transgender woman, a matter prominently featured in her videos; she began her gender transition in 2017.[9][12] She previously identified as genderqueer.[9][37] She is a feminist and has called herself a democratic socialist and social democrat, and endorsed Bernie Sanders in the 2020 Democrat presidential primaries.[38] As of 2017, she resides in Baltimore, Maryland.[12] In 2020, she came out as a lesbian in her video "Shame".[9]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2020 Streamy Awards Best Commentary ContraPoints Won [32]

EpisodesEdit

The following list of episodes includes only episodes which are still accessible on the ContraPoints YouTube channel. In February 2020, Wynn set all her videos from before August 2017—when she began her gender transition—to private, stating that they "no longer represent the person I've become".[39] She posted transcripts of the majority of these older videos on her website.[40]

No. Title Run time Original release date
1Decrypting the Alt-Right: How to Recognize a F@scist23:33September 1, 2017 (2017-09-01)
2The Left14:02September 24, 2017 (2017-09-24)
3Degeneracy23:06October 19, 2017 (2017-10-19)
4Violence19:23November 24, 2017 (2017-11-24)
5What's Wrong With Capitalism (Part 1)19:07December 30, 2017 (2017-12-30)
6Autogynephilia48:54February 1, 2018 (2018-02-01)
7America: Still Racist21:11February 28, 2018 (2018-02-28)
8What's Wrong With Capitalism (Part 2)19:56March 31, 2018 (2018-03-31)
9Jordan Peterson28:20May 2, 2018 (2018-05-02)
10Tiffany Tumbles21:08June 2, 2018 (2018-06-02)
11The West23:32July 13, 2018 (2018-07-13)
12Incels35:05August 17, 2018 (2018-08-17)
13The Aesthetic21:23September 19, 2018 (2018-09-19)
14Pronouns31:56November 2, 2018 (2018-11-02)
15The Apocalypse24:52December 1, 2018 (2018-12-01)
16"Are Traps Gay?"44:53January 16, 2019 (2019-01-16)
17The Darkness29:22March 2, 2019 (2019-03-02)
18Gender Critical33:49March 30, 2019 (2019-03-30)
19Beauty30:52May 22, 2019 (2019-05-22)
20"Transtrenders"34:44July 1, 2019 (2019-07-01)
21Men30:35August 23, 2019 (2019-08-23)
22Opulence49:07October 12, 2019 (2019-10-12)
23Canceling1:40:28January 2, 2020 (2020-01-02)
24Shame42:03February 15, 2020 (2020-02-15)
25Cringe1:23:19May 10, 2020 (2020-05-10)
26Justice (Part 1)43:04September 4, 2020 (2020-09-04)
27Voting23:40October 19, 2020 (2020-10-19)
28J.K. Rowling1:29:45January 26, 2021 (2021-01-26)
29Envy1:48:15August 7, 2021 (2021-08-07)

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "About ContraPoints". YouTube.
  2. ^ a b c d e Robinson, Nathan J. (May 6, 2018). "God Bless ContraPoints". Current Affairs. Archived from the original on April 1, 2019. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  3. ^ @ContraPoints (August 19, 2020). "gorges to be honest I've been in the depths of a major depressive episode for a couple months and not doing well at all, but 1 million subs has jolted me alive and I'm so grateful for everything, thank you, love you so much" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  4. ^ "ContraPoints - YouTube". www.youtube.com. Retrieved September 21, 2021.
  5. ^ Cross, Katherine (August 24, 2018). "The Oscar Wilde of YouTube fights the alt-right with decadence and seduction". The Verge. Retrieved September 17, 2021.
  6. ^ "2020 YouTube Streamy Awards Winners: Complete List". Billboard. Retrieved September 20, 2021.
  7. ^ @ContraPoints (July 19, 2018). "Alright, alright astrologers. October 21, 1988. 8:00 AM. Arlington, VA. Tell me about my soul" (Tweet). Archived from the original on March 30, 2019 – via Twitter.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Hall, Jake; Brownstein, Billie (April 9, 2019). "ContraPoints Is the Opposite of the Internet". Vice UK. Archived from the original on June 2, 2019. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  9. ^ a b c d e Nancy Jo, Sales (June 17, 2021). "'The internet is about jealousy': YouTube muse ContraPoints on cancel culture and compassion". The Guardian. Retrieved June 30, 2021.
  10. ^ a b Fleishman, Jeffery (June 12, 2019). "Transgender YouTube star ContraPoints tries to change alt-right minds". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on July 4, 2019. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  11. ^ Kaye, Chris (November 11, 2020). "ContraPoints Talks Twitter, TERFs, and Tasting the 'Ideal Beer'". OCTOBER. Archived from the original on November 13, 2020. Retrieved November 14, 2020.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g Singal, Jesse (October 30, 2017). "This YouTuber Is Figuring Out How to Counter the Alt-Right's Dominance of the Site". New York Magazine. Archived from the original on July 18, 2018. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  13. ^ a b Schindel, Dan (December 28, 2018). "The best video essays of 2018". Polygon. Archived from the original on December 29, 2018. Retrieved December 28, 2018.
  14. ^ Contrapoints Is De-Radicalizing Young, Right-Wing Men (HBO), retrieved May 7, 2021
  15. ^ Reeve, Elle (March 14, 2019). "Meet the YouTube star who's de-radicalizing young, right-wing men". Vice News. Archived from the original on April 17, 2019. Retrieved March 15, 2019
    • In the video at 02:42:
      Reeve: "Natalie quit a philosophy PhD program in 2015..."
      Wynn: "Dropped out of grad school. 'I'm going to write fiction!' That didn't go anywhere. I wasn't driving Ubers. Just teaching piano lessons, being a paralegal, doing copywriting. Just like anything. It was because of [?] dark moment that I even decided to do something as suicidal as make video responses to alt-right people."
    CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  16. ^ N.B. (December 20, 2018). "The transgender populist fighting fascists with face glitter". The Economist. Archived from the original on March 21, 2019. Retrieved December 28, 2018.
  17. ^ Herrman, John (August 3, 2017). "For the New Far Right, YouTube Has Become the New Talk Radio". The New York Times Magazine. Archived from the original on March 23, 2019. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  18. ^ Kronfeld, Ezra (May 8, 2018). "ContraPoints on YouTube, Social Justice, and Transphobic Feminists". Out Front. Archived from the original on July 25, 2018. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  19. ^ a b Neiwert, David (September 18, 2018). "Is that an OK sign? A white power symbol? Or just a right-wing troll?". Southern Poverty Law Center. Archived from the original on June 16, 2019. Retrieved November 13, 2018.
  20. ^ a b VanDerWerff, Emily (December 20, 2018). "TV Club: YouTube's ContraPoints and Hulu's Puppy Prep". Slate. Archived from the original on January 20, 2019. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
  21. ^ McCrea, Aisling; Robinson, Nathan J. (June 9, 2019). "Interview: Natalie Wynn of ContraPoints". Current Affairs. Archived from the original on April 7, 2020. Retrieved February 1, 2020.
  22. ^ a b Cross, Katherine (August 24, 2018). "The Oscar Wilde of YouTube fights the alt-right with decadence and seduction". The Verge. Archived from the original on April 3, 2019. Retrieved August 25, 2018.
  23. ^ Lawson, Richard (October 7, 2019). ""At What Point Is 3 Million Gonna Be Success?": The Ever-Evolving, Often Perilous Business of Being a YouTube Star". Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on August 7, 2020. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
  24. ^ Sales, Nancy Jo (June 17, 2021). "'The internet is about jealousy': YouTube muse ContraPoints on cancel culture and compassion". The Guardian. Retrieved June 17, 2021.
  25. ^ Reeve, Elle (March 14, 2019). "Meet the YouTube star who's de-radicalizing young, right-wing men" Archived April 17, 2019, at the Wayback Machine. Vice News. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  26. ^ Featherstone, Liza (February 22, 2021). "Natalie Wynn Wants to Redistribute the Goddamn Champagne". The Nation. ISSN 0027-8378. Retrieved August 3, 2021.
  27. ^ Hayes, Chris (host) (June 23, 2021). Chris Hayes Podcast with Natalie Wynn / Why Is This Happening? – Ep 167 / MSNBC (YouTube video). USA: MSNBC. Event occurs at 34:15.
  28. ^ a b Mark, Clifton (January 6, 2019). "ContraPoints Is Political Philosophy Made for YouTube". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on July 5, 2019. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  29. ^ Featherstone, Liza (June 7, 2018). "I Think My Friend Is a Jordan Peterson Fan. What Should I Do?". The Nation. Archived from the original on April 4, 2019. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  30. ^ Marantz, Andrew (November 19, 2018). "The Stylish Socialist Who Is Trying to Save YouTube from Alt-Right Domination". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on March 21, 2019. Retrieved November 19, 2018.
  31. ^ Bulut, Selim (2019). "ContraPoints". Dazed. Archived from the original on May 1, 2019. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  32. ^ a b "10th Annual Nominees & Winners". streamys.org. Archived from the original on October 21, 2020. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  33. ^ a b Mahdawi, Arwa (September 13, 2019). "He, she, they ... should we now clarify our preferred pronouns when we say hello?". The Guardian. Archived from the original on November 8, 2019. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  34. ^ a b c d Earl, Jessie (October 21, 2019). "What Does the ContraPoints Controversy Say About the Way We Criticize?". Pride.com. Archived from the original on January 6, 2020. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  35. ^ a b c Asarch, Steven (October 21, 2019). "YouTuber ContraPoints Attacked After Including Controversial Buck Angel in Video". Newsweek. Archived from the original on January 6, 2020. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  36. ^ Soave, Robby (January 2, 2020). "Leftist YouTuber ContraPoints Explains Why Cancel Culture Mobs Should Drop the Pitchforks". Reason. Archived from the original on February 16, 2020. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
  37. ^ Bergner, Daniel (June 4, 2019). "The Struggles of Rejecting the Gender Binary". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on June 18, 2019. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
  38. ^
  39. ^ "Archived Transcript of "TERFs"". ContraPoints. Archived from the original on April 28, 2020. Retrieved May 29, 2020.
  40. ^ "Archived Transcripts". ContraPoints. Archived from the original on May 22, 2020. Retrieved May 29, 2020.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit