I didn’t see the announcement right away. I heard about it from a youtuber I’ve never heard of and raced to my own Twitter to confirm. The news still has me a little shaken in the way that only a parasocial relationship can. Lindsay Ellis has quit making videos and has quit social media entirely. While at first I was shocked as this felt sudden, after her Mask Off video and her canceling over a pretty non-problematic opinion; I can honestly say I’m not surprised. I wanted to quit after my pretty mild canceling and I’ve always said if this is mild, I can’t even fathom what it’s really like and the truth is: because of Lindsay Ellis and Natalie Wynn, I can and it’s terrifying.
But while I could lament and grieve for an entire post, I want to spend this time thanking Lindsay Ellis. So let’s get into that.
I knew Lindsay first as the Nostalgia Chick under the now very Channel Awesome umbrella. She was snarky and sullen and a critic: like me. And at that time I meant the old school critic where basically you just hated everything but with “reasons”. I love that she readily called out the sexism in media and I thought she was a great foil to the Nostalgia Critic whomst I did at one time unfortunately find funny.
It took me a while to come around to some of her solo content under her name: Lindsay Ellis. They were mostly think pieces but at the time shorter and more about comparing different versions of the same character in various mediums. I thought they were mostly funny but nothing that really sold me on her brand. That would change when Lindsay started making video essays and goddammit did I find my bread and butter with that. Lindsay was biting and intelligent and used sources and resources that seemed only rivaled by her friend Contrapoints, another video essayist and thinker I admire greatly. At the height of “Breadtube” greatness between Philosophy Tube, Folding Ideas, Contrapoints, Hbomberguy, T1J and Lindsay Ellis were staples in my media diet. If you listen to my literature podcast, you know just how many times I reference Lindsay in conversation because I think she’s just that brilliant. She has changed my mind on media I love for good and bad. I never thought of RENT as that harmful until her video eviscerating it made me see just how damaging it was. I didn’t see much value in some Disney movies until Lindsay explained what their value and legacy was. I admired Lindsay and when I started making video essays, I tried (and let’s be real, mostly failed) to be like her and try to bring the same level of thought and care to my work.
Then the drama happened. Lindsay had been no stranger to criticism before. She had some hot hot takes back in the day trying to fit in with the boys, which is something I can very much relate to. And it seems like her tweet about Raya and the Last Dragon just stirred all of that up. She had faced criticism before but not like this and this seemed to be the instance that broke the camel’s back. I’m not here to say that her choice to leave isn’t valid; hell, if I faced criticism like she did, I would have quit forever ago. I remember messaging someone about her now infamous Mask Off video and with it’s large runtime I knew this was going to be a lot. I remember commenting that I wasn’t fond of her tone during the video at first like she owed me a damn thing and it took me thinking critically and realizing that an internet celebrity owes me nothing to make me realize that her anger in that video is so valid and earned and it wasn’t my place to comment on her anger and scathing tone.
She continued to produce videos for a little while and I had simply adjusted to her extended production schedule. She is an author, too. I was understanding. Perhaps that was why it was a shock that she said she was done and so a part of my media diet faded.
I want to take this time to thank Lindsay even though I know she’ll never see this and likely she won’t care. But I wanted to put my sincere gratitude somewhere. I had to put these feelings somewhere. I don’t feel like I’m losing a friend. Lindsay’s brand was always very…aware of parasocial bonding and I never felt some false closeness to her. She is unapproachable and that always made me respect her. She wasn’t my gal pal or my friend, she was a creator and someone I deeply respected and still do.
So goodbye, Lindsay. I hope you find peace and success in whatever you continue to do.