My When it comes to analytical opinion pieces, the well-spoken, knowledgeable, and charismatic Evan Puschak presents a channel that is second-to-none: Nerdwriter1.
YouTube is saturated with videos of all varieties from fail compilations to giggling babies, from movie trailers to cooking tutorials, from weekly vlogs to extreme stunts, and much more. The sheer number of videos on YouTube means that, naturally, a large quantity of it is crap. While much of it may be entertaining, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the viewer is gaining any sort of meaningful experience by watching it. That isn’t to say that entertaining videos of people falling off of skateboards are bad, but just that relatively little time and thought were put in to creating the end product.
Many YouTube videos can be ‘good’. ‘Good’ can mean different things to different people. ‘Good’ could mean high-quality picture and sound. ‘Good’ can also mean funny or entertaining. ‘Good’ can mean well-researched or thought-provoking. When a channel has all of these things, though, it is elevated above the rest. That’s exactly what Evan Pushcak’s Nerdwriter channel is.
Essentially, what Puschak does on his channel is create well-researched, well-written, and engaging video essays that aim to get the viewer thinking a little more deeply about various aspects of life. These videos deconstruct and analyze everything from economic theories to movie violence and soundtracks to the works of influential artists, poets, writers, and directors. What Puschak is most skilled at, in my opinion, is bringing to light and breaking down aspects of life and art that may otherwise go unnoticed.
I was introduced to the Nerdwriter channel through his segment titled “Understanding Art,” a series of videos wherein works of art such as paintings, songs, or movies are deconstructed and analyzed thematically, technically, psychologically, emotionally, morally, or philosophically. The first in this series that I had the pleasure of watching was about a favourite movie of mine, Children of Men. The video highlighted the important details that are in the background of the film, occurring simultaneously and in conversation with, the rest of the story. I remember being quite amazed that I could have seen the movie a number of times and paid such little attention to something that, after watching Puschak’s video, I came to see as a significant part of the movie. From there, I began watching more Nerdwriter videos and came to see just how much I had been missing from my YouTubing experience.
While many of the ideas that Puschak puts forward are neither entirely ground-breaking nor the first of their kind, one can plainly see that meticulous research goes in to each topic he attempts to tackle in his weekly videos. The result of Puschak’s painstaking researching and writing process is a polished video that flows elegantly from one point to another, interweaving various ideas and themes under an overarching argument that comes, within 5 to 10 minutes, to a satisfying and thought-provoking conclusion.
Because this blog focuses on movies and TV shows I’ll use the example of his video ‘Game of Thrones: Why Dragons Halt Progress’. Essentially what this video argues is that dragons in Westeros, the kingdom where Game of Thrones takes place, halts societal evolution. Puschak proves this by looking at medieval societies over the course of history and how they evolved over time. Traditionally, the economic structure of medieval society was based on feudalism, a mode of government that obligated knights to fight for a lord in times of need in exchange for a fief or unit of land. The best way to attack a castle then was to try to lure the lord out of his fortifications to fight by pillaging and destroying the surrounding lands thus destroying the castle’s small economy and shaming the nobility within.
This method of sieging castles changed with two important inventions, continues Puschak: the cannon and gunpowder. These new innovations allowed besiegers to simply destroy castle walls and lay waste to the castle and its inhabitants. Lords within castles, therefore, had to begin to meet attacking armies on the battlefield. With the armies now meeting outside the castle walls to fight, the battle would favour the side that had the larger army. Puschak goes on to say that building a larger army meant having more money, which meant better tax collecting, which meant having a stronger centralized government. These centralized governments eventually evolved into the modern nation states we see today. This evolution never occurred in Westeros, a kingdom seemingly stuck in a perpetual state of medievalism. Why, asks Puschak does this happen? Well, because of dragons.
Dragons are not easily obtained or defeated in Westeros, therefore, in order to be successful, lords had to pledge allegiance to those who had the dragons. This largely did away with the need for maintaining big armies. With no incentive for large armies, there was no incentive for implementing better tax collection, and no need for stronger centralized governments. Thus, Puschak concludes, the economics in Westeros never pushes the society to its next phase, meaning that societal evolution is not inevitable and is primarily driven by human action.
As a Game of Thrones fan, I can honestly say that the idea of dragons halting societal evolution in Westeros never really occurred to me. That, in essence, is what Nerdwriter does so well on his channel. He discusses and analyzes events, problems, themes, and works of art that, while seemingly inconsequential, are proven to be important.
From Puschak himself, the purpose of Nerdwriter is to ‘cultivate worldview’. I would say in his own sphere of influence, that’s exactly what he’s doing. The vast array of issues and ideas that Puschak takes on presents a well-rounded and diverse web of ideas. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the stance that Puschak takes in his videos, the content that he creates promotes reading between the lines, introspection, and scepticism, qualities that are increasingly more important in today’s world.
Check out the Nerdwriter channel here.