ContraPoints

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Natalie Wynn
ContraPoints
Natalie as she appears on her YouTube and Twitter profile pictures
Personal information
Born (1988-10-21) October 21, 1988 (age 32)
Arlington County, Virginia, United States
Education
ResidenceBaltimore, Maryland, U.S.
OccupationYouTube personality
YouTube information
Channel
Years active2008–present
Subscribers1.11 million
Total views48 million
YouTube Silver Play Button 2.svg 100,000 subscribers 2018
YouTube Gold Play Button 2.svg 1,000,000 subscribers 2020

Updated: November 19, 2020

Natalie Wynn (born October 21, 1988) is an American YouTuber whose videos explore politics, gender, ethics, race, and philosophy on her channel ContraPoints. Wynn provides counterarguments to right-wing political argumentation, performed as various characters, often engaged in debate. Her videos have received positive critical response and have been praised for their intricately designed sets and costumes and their darkly humorous tone.

Early life[edit]

Wynn was born on October 21, 1988, in Arlington, Virginia,[1] and raised in the same state.[2] Wynn's parents are a psychology professor and a doctor.[3] After studying piano at Berklee College of Music,[4] 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.[2][3][5][6] Wynn left Northwestern, saying it had become "boring to the point of existential despair",[2] and moved to Baltimore, Maryland,[2] where she now lives.

Wynn has written fiction, taught piano, and worked as a paralegal and copywriter.[7]

YouTube career[edit]

Wynn started publishing YouTube videos in 2008, initially regarding religion and atheism. 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.[2][5][8][9] Early ContraPoints videos also covered subjects such as race, racism, and online radicalisation.[2] 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.[5][10][11]

Wynn's videos often have a combative but humorous tone, containing dark and surreal humor, sarcasm and sexual themes.[5] Wynn often illustrates concepts by playing different characters who engage in debate.[12] The videos have been noted for showcasing Wynn's production choices such as complicated lighting, elaborate costumes, and aesthetics.[13] She takes aesthetic cues from drag performance, saying in a 2019 interview that if conservatives were going to call her a drag queen anyway, she decided to "be the most extravagant drag queen on YouTube."[14] In a 2018 interview for The Verge, Katherine Cross notes a significant difference between Wynn and how she presents on YouTube, explaining that the YouTube channel portrays an image of being "blithe, aloof, decadent and disdainful", while personally Wynn "can be earnest—and she cares deeply, almost too much."[15]

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.

— Natalie Wynn[16]

The video channel is financed through the crowdfunding platform Patreon, where ContraPoints has been among the top 20 creators on the site.[17]

In February 2020, Wynn set all her videos from before August 2017—when she began her gender transition—to private saying that they "no longer represent the person I've become".[18] She posted transcripts of the majority of these videos on her website.[19]

Reception[edit]

Wynn's videos have been praised for their clarity, nuance, and attention-grabbing sense of humor.[2][12] Jake Hall, writing for Vice, called Wynn "one of the most incisive and compelling video essayists on YouTube".[2] In an article contrasting her personal sincerity and her ironic sense of humor, The Verge describes her as the "Oscar Wilde of YouTube."[15] 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."[5] Nathan 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."[12]

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.[12][13][20] Wynn's 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.[11] Journalist Liza Featherstone recommends the channel as well, saying that Wynn 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.[21]

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."[22] 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."[20] Polygon named her video on incels one of the ten best video essays of the year 2018.[6] In May 2019, she topped the Dazed 100 list, which ranks people who "dared to give culture a shot in the arm."[23]

In September 2019, Wynn described on Twitter feelings of awkwardness when asked in some contexts to describe her preferred gender pronouns.[24] The tweets were criticized as dismissive of non-binary people who use pronouns other than "he/him" and "she/her".[25] 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".[24] Following negative reaction, Wynn deactivated her Twitter account for a week, then posted an apology.[25]

In October 2019, Wynn's video "Opulence" featured a quote from John Waters read by transsexual pornographic actor Buck Angel,[26] whose views on transgender people have attracted criticism, including by some who see Angel's views as being transmedicalist.[25][26] Wynn was criticised for featuring Angel, including by journalist Ana Valens. In addition to criticism, Wynn and YouTubers associated with her were widely harassed.[25][26] 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.[27]

The ContraPoints channel was nominated for Best Commentary at the 10th Annual Streamy Awards.[28]

Personal life[edit]

Wynn is a trans woman, a matter that features heavily in her videos, and began her gender transition in 2017.[5] Wynn previously identified as genderqueer.[29] She is a feminist and a socialist.[12][15][22][30] As of 2017, she resides in Baltimore, Maryland.[5] In 2020, Wynn came out as a lesbian in her video "Shame".[31]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Giving Body Category Work Results Ref.
2020 Streamy Award Best Commentary Contrapoints Pending [28]
WOWIE Awards Outstanding YouTube Pending [32]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ @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.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Hall, Jake (April 9, 2019). "ContraPoints Is the Opposite of the Internet". Vice UK. Archived from the original on June 2, 2019. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ "ContraPoints Talks Twitter, TERFs, and Tasting the 'Ideal Beer'". ContraPoints Talks Twitter, TERFs, and Tasting the 'Ideal Beer'.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ 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."
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ a b c 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.
  16. ^ Lawson, Richard. ""At What Point Is 3 Million Gonna Be Success?": The Ever-Evolving, Often Perilous Business of Being a YouTube Star". Vanity Fair. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ "Archived Transcript of "TERFs"". ContraPoints. Archived from the original on April 28, 2020. Retrieved May 29, 2020.
  19. ^ "Archived Transcripts". ContraPoints. Archived from the original on May 22, 2020. Retrieved May 29, 2020.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ a b 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.
  23. ^ Bulut, Selim (2019). "ContraPoints". Dazed. Archived from the original on May 1, 2019. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ 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.
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ a b "10th Annual Nominees". streamys.org. Retrieved October 21, 2020.
  29. ^ 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.
  30. ^ Miller, Hallie. "This Baltimore YouTube star wants to change minds about transgender issues, one absurd costume at a time". The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on November 5, 2019. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  31. ^ Wynn, Natalie (February 15, 2020), Shame, archived from the original on February 16, 2020, retrieved February 16, 2020 – via YouTube
  32. ^ Niemetz, Spencer (November 9, 2020). "World of Wonder's 2020 WOWIE Awards: Cast Your Votes Now!". Worldofwonder.net. Archived from the original on November 9, 2020. Retrieved November 10, 2020.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]