satellite cult 54.54
midnight surfing, the divine net, breadtube is dead
welcome to this week’s satellite cult dispatch. i’m so glad you’re here. i hope the artifacts i present you with will whisk you away to the infinite livestream, where everyone is playing retro DOS games and nothing bad ever happens. at least, that’s what they tell you.
please be aware that the void dive section below contains flashing gifs. forgive the way Substack formats some embedded media from Bandcamp.
i write and research satellite cult each week because i love it, and it’s important to me that it remains free to read and subscribe. but if you want to give altar offerings for the time and labor i invest, you can support me on Ko-fi.
if you enjoy what you find here, like, share, and consider subscribing to satellite cult.
GET OUT WHILE YOU CAN
from the Milwaukee-based collective V0xP0pul1, this ecco-heavy slushwave captures and cultivates a liminality that feels reflective of the ever-uphill struggle against hopelessness.
Neo Metro City
future funk staple VANTAGE hasn’t released a full-length album since 2018, mostly peppering the last few years with EPs, singles, remixes, and city pop collaborations. for those of you who’ve been waiting, Neo Metro City won’t disappoint. elevating his French-house influenced future funk and featuring appearances from the likes of Macross 82-99, this release is an expansion of his first album, Metro City.
inspired by defunct web browsers and dial-up internet, this self-titled Y2K era cyberpunk vaporwave by midnight surfing (a side project of victory over death) brings a darker spin to the themes often explored in late night lofi and broken transmission—it’s about what happens after dark, but it doesn’t cast a net of numbness in solitude. instead, it brings the after hours alive, evoking hacker tropes of the time and late night gaming sessions. it’s about logging on at 9pm and only stepping away from the computer once the rising sun interrupts your trance, jarring you into asking where the time went.
w e l c o m e h o m e モダンホームアソシエイツ [EP]
utopian virtual has waned in popularity since its inception—a shame since it’s one of the earliest iterations of vaporwave. you would think that a genre rooted in exposing the artificiality of corporate utopia would find some footing during a time so overcome with the evils of capitalist greed. my hope is that perhaps, multi-genre musicians within the vaporwave scene can revitalize it a little. here, Citrus Corp. combines utopian virtual with barber beats and ambient eccojams to build something that sounds like the future of this music.
[𝖱̶𝖤̶𝖣̶∀̶𝖢̶𝖳̶𝖤̶𝖣̶]𝒐𝒏𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒆 𝐕𝐑𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐭 ᴍɪɴɪ ᴍɪx (08.12.23)
if you’ve been here before, you might know that i really enjoy ␡ ␡ ␡ ␡ ␡ ␡ ␡ ␡ ␡ ␡, an enigmatic producer based in Santa Cruz, according to their Bandcamp page. they explicitly have no social media, at least none connected to their music persona, and they release hexd hard trance that frames online experiences as ethereal and angelic, with representations of divinity present in every stroke of HTML and CSS, in the very screws that keep the boards inside your computer strapped down. in the world of ␡ ␡ ␡ ␡ ␡ ␡ ␡ ␡ ␡ ␡, the web is a deity, and to interact with it is an overwhelming spiritual experience akin to witnessing a holy miracle.
␡ ␡ ␡ ␡ ␡ ␡ ␡ ␡ ␡ ␡ has gifted us with three releases this month: one a long mix, one a mini mix, and the third a collection of experiments, flips, and drafts created over the past year.
the death of breadtube
for the uninitiated, breadtube describes a collection of leftist video essayists and streamers who mostly broadcast their content through YouTube and Twitch. the question of who makes up breadtube is loosely defined—it describes a side of the internet more than an organized group. breadtube once reined strong, and its existence contributed to a massive shift in the culture of YouTube as a platform. it’s so notable, it even has its own Wikipedia page. there is so much to be said about breadtube that in this edition of the newsletter, i can barely give you breadtube 101. but i’ll save the BA in Breadtube from the University of the Web for another day.
this week, Keffals uploaded a nine hour long stream to YouTube titled The End of BreadTube. while it sounds like a commentary video, it’s mostly just a rehashing of interpersonal breadtube drama. ironically, it does demonstrate why breadtube is dead. believe it or not, there was a time before infighting between leftist creators and audiences was ruining the space, and when leftist creators actually talked about, well, the left. let’s talk about it.
from approximately 2015 to 2017, YouTube was in its edgelord era. LeafyIsHere, iDubbbz, and FilthyFrank1 sat among the biggest names on the platform during a time when offensive humor and anti-sjw sentiment dominated web culture. this was the peak of weeaboo cringe compilations and an environment where a 12-year-old girl raised on 4chan and espousing extreme far-right takes could amass nearly a million followers. you might remember a lot of cultural conversation about YouTube’s role in right-wing radicalization from around that time—the alt-right pipeline theory was developed during and largely because of this era of YouTube, with the platform’s algorithm supporting a system where users watching iDubbbz, through YouTube’s recommendations, could soon find themselves watching Nick Fuentes without knowing how they got there. this moment was also marked by interpersonal drama between “edgy” creators and encouraged by drama creators like Keemstar.
creators now associated with breadtube largely began uploading and streaming as a result of this phenomenon, many of whom used a specific strategy to hijack the algorithm. by discussing topics right-wing creators focused on, they ensured their videos would also appear in recommendations alongside them, and their popularity, alongside external pressure, forced many of the policy changed that resulted in Leafy’s ban from the platform as well as the suspension of prominent far-right pundits.
ContraPoints, Lindsay Ellis, Philosophy Tube, and hbomerguy quickly became associated with breadtube, and the designation often extends to streamers like Vaush and Hasan Piker. breadtube is a category largely invented by the audiences of these creators, and many have disavowed the label. of course, these weren’t the first left-leaning content creators to build audiences—Kat Blaque has been on YouTube since at least 2005, and the Gamergate campaign that preceded the edgey era of YouTube began as targeted harassment against media critic Anita Sarkeesian, who started uploading videos to YouTube in 2009. and i would be remiss if i neglected to include the influence of The Young Turks, which found a home online as early as 2005, but blew up around 2008, when Ana Kasparian joined as a co-host. even many of the “new” leftist creators aren’t that new—Lindsay Ellis created with Channel Awesome as the Nostalgia Chick, for example, and ContraPoints originally started uploading to YouTube in 2008 during the atheist and skeptic era, before she launched the ContraPoints channel in 2016.
leftist content creators, ContraPoints particularly, began attracting attention for videos with creative and aesthetic sensibilities as much as for videos featuring leftist analysis and criticism. thus, breadtube was born.
the first wave of breadtube is dead. it’s undeniable. a combination of conflicts between creators and audiences, scandals that in hindsight were rooted in the draconian enforcement of impossible standards of ideological purity, and personal circumstances, many of these creators have abandoned YouTube entirely. hbomberguy, Kat Blaque, and Philosophy Tube are some of the only originals who still upload regularly. Lindsay Ellis shifted entirely to uploading on the subscription-only platform Nebula, and ContraPoints mostly only does Patreon these days, not to mention the smaller creators who cropped up around the scene and stopped uploading when the space seemed to die. even breadtube adjacent creators like Jenny Nicholson and Sarah Z upload infrequently and have mostly abandoned YouTube for other platforms.
the cancellation of Lindsay Ellis was specifically dramatic and far-reaching; breadtube never felt the same afterwards, perhaps because creators realized how vulnerable they were to the whims of their audiences. there is a new crop of thoughtful video essayists emerging, people like Lily Alexandre and Mia Mulder, for example, and the influence of debate bro streamers has started to wain, so maybe there is some hope. but even so, content that can be described as breadtube has either veered academic, stale, and so inaccessible that you already need a solid foundation in theory to understand, or so basic and safe that it echos the tone of pop feminism in the 2010s. and somehow, everyone is still arguing. the Keffals video outlines a piece of drama that involves at least ten different actors.2 after watching half the stream, i still don’t know what anyone was angry about. ultimately, leftist video creators and streamers aren’t in it for the ideas anymore. it’s about engagement and notoriety. i can’t force myself to choke down another ethanisonline video. i just can’t.
FilthyFrank was always more satirical than the others, and has Joji often treats his YouTube persona like it never existed. even iDubbbz has since denounced a lot of his old content.
if you’re curious about some of the current big names in breadtube, you can check out who breadtuber F.D Signifier is following on Twitter or who opposite breadtuber Keffals is following on Twitter.