By Alexandra Milman
From Quetzalcoatl to Thor, creating love stories to creating languages, Frankenstein to Dante’s Inferno, and Hatshepsut to the Punic Wars, Overly Sarcastic Productions is a YouTube channel that is informative, funny, and of course, sarcastic. Overly Sarcastic Productions gives writing advice, discusses common allusions and analyzes tropes and myths used in literature to educate their viewers. The purpose of this YouTube channel is to expose viewers to classic literature and help them become better writers. The creators,known as Red and Blue, use colorful imagery and sarcastic speech bubbles as backgrounds to their voice-overs. Red and Blue hand-draw each frame in their videos, often making fun of themselves and the topics they are reviewing. Overly Sarcastic Productions is a good supplement for English and History class for those who are enthusiastic students looking for an edge.
Overly Sarcastic Productions uses myths to convey their lessons since books and movies oftentimes rely upon these stories to advance the their ideas. Throughout time, some of the finest writers such as Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf, and JK Rowling, have woven mythology into their stories to advance the plot. Red also covers tropes, themes, storylines and characters derived from mythology in order to discuss them in their literary context. For example, when Red analyzed Norse Poetic Eddas, she often referred to the The Lord of the Rings series as JRR Tolkien used many characters, themes, and storylines from these poems.
Red often covers lessons the myths portray. These lessons range from respecting the Gods worshiped in a particular region to moral lessons that can still be applied to society today. For example, in the Greek myth, Atlanta, Red discussed how Atlanta is the only character in Ancient Greek mythology that countered female stereotypes and archetypes, describing her as “total badassery.”
Being familiar with mythology also aids in learning history because myths give modern people insight into the turbulent times of the ancient world. Additionally, myths conveyed how ancient people viewed their world and how much control they felt they had over their lives. Red’s analysis of myths can enhance school history lessons because they depict what ancient life was like. One example comes from Sumer, modern day Iraq, which often involves stories about Gods punishing the Sumerians, most likely because of the unpredictability of the Tigris and Euphrates floods that the Sumerians heavily relied upon. The Sumerians believed that a bad flood meant that bad people were being punished by the Gods. Red’s writing advice differs from high school teachers because Overly Sarcastic Productions only covers creative writing whereas traditional education covers all disciplines of writing. Red has made videos about Mary Sues, damsels, characters who save the world, romantic subplots, the power of friendship, and many more. You will never hear Red say a word about essay outlines, but you will always see cartoons providing examples of pitfalls writers commonly fall into. Overly Sarcastic Productions is a great outlet for students interested in creative writing who want to expand their minds.
For the English nerds, Overly Sarcastic Productions is the only YouTube channel (at least that I have found) that covers classic literature and is both well produced and entertaining. Red has reviewed multiple classic pieces of literature, including but not limited to Frankenstein, Dante’s Inferno and Dracula. Although these videos are relatively quick summaries of dense literature, they give viewers a good overview of the plot, important symbolism, themes, and literary devices. Classics make people well rounded and well educated in the culture and wisdom of older generations. Allusions to classics can be seen in recent and vintage literature and movies. Learning about classics also enables people to recognize “recycled stories:” when old stories are remodeled to be more current. Movies based on the 1818 book Frankenstein have been remade many times between 1910 and 2005. These movie adaptations are all very different and extremely revealing of how “culture changes over the years,” a common phrase used on the channel.
The second creator, Blue, reviews undercovered or misunderstood historical events. These events often take place in the years BCE. A few of the many topics Blue reviewed are the Lost Pharaoh Hatshepsut, the Punic Wars, the rise of Islam, and multiple videos regarding Julius Caesar and the wars following his assassination. These events are not usually covered in History class and are often incredibly interesting and important. For instance, the Pharaoh Hatshepsut cleverly imposed her will on all of the Ancient Egyptians’ culture because she was a female Pharaoh, and according to Ancient Egyptian law and religion, Pharaohs can only be the son of Ra, the sun god.
Overly Sarcastic Productions became a YouTube channel in 2012; their first video was a summary of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. According to their website, their main goal is to show how “learning isn’t scary.” Currently, they have a whopping 374,000 subscribers, which is not the most popular channel, but it is hard to compete with channels whose sole purpose is to make genitalia jokes. They also have a collective 49,121,439 views with their most viewed video being “Amaterasu and the Cave.” Most of the comments are positive with viewer Ronnie Mirano saying, “Gold, just absolute gold.” Most of the videos have thousands of likes with their most recent video, “Legends Summarized: Arthur’s Knights” having 9.1K likes and only 24 dislikes. Overly Sarcastic Productions’ main goal is to educate people about literature and history in a fun and sarcastic way. Red is a lover of books and Blue is a lover of history; however, they both love to show how even the most trivial pieces of information are incredibly important. Each frame is hand drawn, colorful and well-executed. After each video, Blue and Red attach extra information in writing for the viewer if they would like to read it. Although most of their videos are 15-20 minutes long, they are well worth the time commitment. Without fail, each of Red and Blue’s videos are engaging, compelling, entertaining, and definitely worth a Google.