YouTube is probably the greatest anthropological project ever launched. It has managed to expose the multitudes of the human condition more than any other medium ever created, and allowed people to express themselves in more diverse ways than at any point in history. This weekly column is an outlet for me to share with you some undiscovered gems, as well some very well-trodden gems, and discuss just what it is that makes the chosen accounts so intriguing.
WHO: Matt Stonie, Randy Santel, Yuka Kinoshita
WHAT: Three different eating accounts with three different vibes.
HOW MANY SUBSCRIBERS AT TIME OF WRITING: 1,159,095 (Stonie), 176,493 (Santel) and 824,624 (Kinoshita)
WHY SHOULD I CARE: In this eating channel bonanza, we examine three different accounts and ask ourselves – what is it that makes people subscribe to this? Why do they like this? In all three cases, the answer is much the same, but for very different reasons.
Let's start off with our most popular example, Matt Stonie. Formerly dubbing himself 'the Megatoad', Stonie, a slight, long-haired emo fan, is the current number one-ranked competitive eater in the world, yanking the crown from the head of now-world number two Joey Chestnut. But the eating contests are the least interesting part of Stonie's oeuvre. They just have him gnawing at and swallowing one type of food among a bunch of people who are almost certainly not going to beat him. That's because Stonie's food intake is prodigious.
Below is one of the first videos of Stonie's that I ever watched. It's the Michael Phelps 12k+ calorie diet challenge, in which Matt eats the equivalent daily meal for Olympic champion swimmer Michael Phelps in under an hour. The meal includes, but is not limited to, a pizza, two trays of pasta, sandwiches, oatmeal, Rockstar energy drinks, and omelettes. It's a phenomenon.
As Matt states in the video description, the idea came from another and more popular user, Furious Pete. Pete is a kind of competitive eating bodybuilding YouTube personality. And in the comments sections of both of their videos, a wild battle occurs.
People who watch YouTube videos of people eating get bizarrely territorial about who they think is the best. Commenters will have 48-message chain arguments with each other about who is more proficient at eating things the quickest. Both have fan boys willing to defend to the death their favourite channel. It's quite the scene.
But away from the boyish fracas of Stonie and Pete's fan-born rivalry sits Yuka Kinoshita. A sweet-faced Japanese woman, Yuka has garnered close to a million subscribers for her home made challenges. The difference is that speed is not the order of the day with Yuka, as she gradually introduces her meal and eats all 10,000 calories of it in her own time. I was shocked when I found Yuka, as I thought I knew all of the big dogs on the YouTube gluttony circuit, but judging by the comments on her videos she has an almost exclusively Asian audience. It's nice to see kanji characters under her videos, instead of what I was expected, grossly sexual tidbits from unimaginably horrible swine-like American men. Hopefully it isn't just full of Japanese guys doing the same. My fingers are firmly crossed.
American men aren't all bad, though. And to round off this food special I want to tell you about one of my very favourites. Randy Santel has, at time of writing, won over 280 restaurant-based food challenges across the world. He sold a load of his possessions and quit his job to travel around America and Europe doing, and defeating, every single challenge he can find, sometimes two in a day.
Though his subscriber count only sits at just under 200,000, it doesn't reflect his effort. One reason people keep coming back is the repetition. Much like Jolie Olie of CustomGrow420, Santel has an intro which he sticks to:
This is Randy Santel.
With Atlas & Zeus Promotions,
And proud owner of Food Challenges.com.
You find yourself incapable of not mouthing along to these sweet words. And then the challenge begins. This former roofing contractor from St. Louis, Missouri, sat in a café in the arse-end of Ireland somewhere alongside a bloke called Taz. It is phenomenally strange. But Randy carries it through sheer charisma; the politeness of his determination, his manner of eating - which is extremely clean and tidy considering - his pre-game hat swivelling. Everything about him and what he does is draws a smiling respect from you. 'There goes that crazy motherfucker Randy,' you think, 'I would love to buy him a drink and watch him eat a king-sized burrito in under ten minutes.'
It's hard to really pinpoint what it is about Randy that is so remarkably personable. To me, it's his total lack of bravado. This is a former American football player (college, at least) who turned to body building to lose weight, and did so with results so remarkable that he won a competition to be an extra on STARZ TV show Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Yet he parlays worldwide with people willing to put him up as he travels around eating. Sofa-surfing, slumming it, to achieve his goals and realise his dreams.
I don't think I have ever quite seen, in this modern age, someone with such a quietly confident level of sheer willpower and determination. He is like a legendary GI, on the banks of the Omaha beach, running full pelt, expressionless, at a turret. Thanks to YouTube I'm able to track the progress of someone truly worthy of respect and praise. Eat on, Randy Santel. You are the last true American hero.
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