How do far-right youtubers appeal to younger people?

Screen capture from the video of YouTubeur Papacito against which Jean-Luc MÃ © lenchon wishes to file a complaint. – H. Sergeant / 20Minutes

  • This Sunday, June 6, a far-right YouTuber caused controversy by firing live ammunition at a mannequin supposed to embody a voter of France Insoumise.
  • Like him, many ultra-right YouTubers play provocation in increasingly popular videos.
  • Who are these youtubers? Where does their success with the youngest come from?

They nickname themselves Papacito, The Raptor, or Julien Rochedy, and the least of their videos on YouTube happily exceeds 100,000 views. Everyone has their own account on the video platform but their profiles converge: an anti-Republican far-right discourse, an ode to violence, to the national novel and to the big arms, and repeated provocations.

Most recent, this Sunday, June 6, when Papacito published a video entitled “Is leftism bulletproof?” In this one, he fired in caliber 12 on a mannequin presented as a voter of La France Insoumise. “Of course, the point of this video is not to engage you in producing violence. It is purely experimental, ”recalls the YouTuber just before exploding the mannequin’s head.

A video since deleted by YouTube and which provoked the indignation of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, presenting this content as a call for murder. Paroxysm of a rise in power of these YouTubers. “The ultra-right which has always been very marginalized, very divided, finds through social networks the opportunity to come out of its isolation thanks to codes and forms adapted to the new generation”, notes Stéphane Rozès, political scientist and Chairman of Consulting, Analysis and Perspectives (CAP).

Inordinate provocation and controlled ambiguity

The codes, taken up by all these YouTubers, are easily identifiable: ever more provocative content to create a buzz, featurings (videos between several of them) for a more convivial and friendly aspect, an apparent simplicity of format, and of “Humor”. All mixed with ultra-straight speech sauce. “The audience of Papacito or the Raptor is younger than the one who would stay an hour in front of a speech by Marine Le Pen or a plea by Eric Zemmour. It requires less intellectual effort, it is passive consumption, which makes it even more dangerous, ”explains Jean-Yves Camus, a political scientist specializing in the far right.

A rhetoric that is also used to defend easily in the event of an attack, as was the case with Papacito, who hammers the idea that his video was only a little provocative humor but had no serious background. “There is a deliberate ambiguity on the parody side or not of the thing. But if we remove the pseudo-second degree from these videos, all that’s left is violence. We are never safe from a person taking it seriously and taking action, ”says Jean-Yves Camus indignantly. An ambiguity reinforced by the culture of YouTube, which allows the thing to be simply put in a context of general buzz on the platform.

At the border of reality

Beyond the humor, all the content of these videographers swings between reality and fiction. National novel more than mythical, where the historical meeting between Francis I and the King of England Louis VIII is described by Papacito in the form of a wrestling take by the French sovereign on Louis VIII, who would have urinated on it following his defeat (yes yes, you read that sentence correctly), comparison between the history of France and the universe of series like Game Of Thrones, military clothes, multiple references to the medieval universal, costumes and firearms abound in their videos …

“We have more to do with characters than with people. There is a romanticization of France and themselves to make themselves more interesting, more sellable, more charismatic. We have more the impression of watching a series than a political speech, but the ideas permeate ”, supports Jean-Yves Camus. And seduce more, with this ease of writing and this intensity that fiction has in relation to reality. However, in a world in social and economic crisis, these “tales” can be attractive. “Many people are disoriented and need to find in simple speeches, even radical, even conspiratorial, explanations for a reality that escape them or seem too cruel to them,” says Stéphane.

Neovirilism and male love

Last commercial argument, and perhaps one of the most prominent, testosterone. Video “burned”, “real guys”, “alpha males”, we give you all the vocabulary used, but the idea is quite clear. These YouTubers share the same cult of virility and masculinity. “This serves the soup to adolescents and post-adolescents in need of benchmarks and in need of virility. There too, it is more of the incarnation of a character than of reality, but some believe in it, ”says Jean-Yves Camus in despair. For Stéphane Rozès, “this virilist discourse particularly appeals to the working classes. When we do not have academic or professional recognition, we must exist in another register ”.

An explosive mixture that can seem both completely surreal and dangerous. “When we remove unnecessary posturing, historical approximations and facade testosterone, it is still a great intellectual void,” said Jean-Yves Camus. A great void that has accumulated several million views.

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