Anthony Fantano? More like Micthony Droptano.
Anthony “Melon” Fantano – the man behind YouTube’s biggest music review channel, The Needle Drop (TND) – came under some serious heat recently. Last week, a hit-piece published by Fader gained massive traction by accusing him of having severely racist, sexist, generally bigoted and gross alt-right undertones in his work and videos, and through extension, in his actual character.
Now, where did this raging online fire originate? Well, sites like the aforementioned Fader lit said fire by taking a couple shakey examples from Fantano’s main work, but mainly the content of his secondary – and this is the key point to remember here, folks – ironic shitposting YouTube channel, That Is The Plan. (Read the original Fader article that started all of this, “The Needle Drop pioneered music review vlogs. His lesser-known channel pandered to the alt-right“, over here).
See, on The Needle Drop, the 32-year-old critic and self-proclaimed “internet’s busiest music nerd” cuts the shit and any sense of irony; honestly discussing his thoughts on new albums, singles, videos, EP’s, mixtapes, as well as other music related news. Fantano drily, unpretentiously but honestly covers any and all genres and artists, doling out his praises, critiques and general thoughts to his now 1.1 million strong subscriber base. And he’s been doing so ever since 2009. Whereas That Is The Plan (TITP), which actually predates TND by being started in 2007, displays more of Fantano’s Reddit and 4Chan sense of memey humour. What with the content being these reactionary, satirical, yet arguably dumb and edgy videos discussing and reviewing memes, normies, politics, other YouTubers, fake internet beef, and so on.
Simply put, it’s a shitposting joke channel that’s not meant to be taken at face value. Yet it was one that Fader and other sites like The AV Club grabbed as “damming”, concrete evidence that this American vlogger is supposedly a problematic Internet personality. One who is apparently a villainous, bigoted edge lord who panders to alt-right audiences with TITP and who now must be crucified because of it.
Fuck me backwards, writing that last part made me chuckle due to how wrong it all is. It really does seem like the sites covering Fantano’s “alt-right “pandering” haven’t actually watched a lot of his videos – both the music reviews and the genuinely political videos and streams he’s done. Not in full, anyway. On top of all that, there are the many left-leaning, anti-conservative tweets he’s made over the years but that’s none of my business.
Let me just say this for the record: yes, Fantano isn’t perfect and some of the humour on that channel, while never vile, was still low-brow and largely unfunny at times. Yet he’s definitely not some PewDiePie-like ignoramus, nor is he even close to being a Paul Joseph Watson mouthpiece, an Alex Jones shill, a Trump supporter (he’s labelled Trump as a “scumbag”) nor is he even remotely a Richard Spencer-like figure. Not even fucking close!
So, after a couple days of waiting to see what would come from Mr Needle Drop following these accusations, a video entitled “The Fader Response” (found below) went live over this past weekend. Over the course of the 20-minute clip, Fantano lays down some real mic-drop moments; addressing each and every critique the Fader’s pot-stirring article had with him, whilst also stating his own opinions and original intent with TITP, his use of memes, his comedy, and the many grievances that have been levelled at him. It’s a pretty top-notch response, honestly, and he also remains the bigger man overall.
I’m sure some of you may have picked up on it by now, but I’m going to offer full disclosure here anyway: I really enjoy Fantano’s videos, especially the “NOT GOOD” series. I’ve even liked the reviews where I’ve strongly disagreed with his thoughts and final scores on certain releases that I’ve instead enjoyed, but I don’t get upset because I am not a petulant child. So yes, I openly admit that there’s bias on my end towards Fantano, as well as my position in support of him regarding this Fader incident and the other major sites and publications that copied each other’s coverage as they spread this controversy around.
Enough about me for now, watch Fantano’s mic-dropping response, to those all reek of jealousy at a far more prominent music media figure, below.
Get fucking wrecked, Fader.
Going deeper, over Twitter last week, the U.S. vlogger announced that he was removing That Is The Plan, which he has done so and is now just reuploading the older (and better) op-eds like “Don’t Pay To Play” over on his personal channel. The main reason Melon axed his original TITP channel, as he states in the above video, is that he could no longer monetize the channel due to YouTube’s recent “Adpocalpyse” and their new guidelines of no longer allowing content creators to profit off “not family suitable”, unfriendly, crude, or overly explicit or adult content, of any nature.
Now, you might think “AHAH! Music websites took aim at this guy’s dumb humour and edgy second channel and now he’s trying to cover his tracks and like a coward and passing it off that he won’t make any money!”. Yet those people would be wrong. As even someone who is very PC like Jim “Thank God For Me” Sterling, one of the best video game critics and industry-covering voices on YouTube currently, has had his own channel royally fucked with by YouTube’s recent policy changes; a topic he detailed in his most recent video. Not only that, but some LGBTI+ YouTubers have had issues with their own videos being restricted by ads because their video titles merely contain words like “trans” or “transgender”. (Goddamnit YouTube, sort ya fucking shit out!)
So no, this isn’t simply old mate Melon covering his ass – it’s him dropping a channel that is now no longer worth the time or effort, which is understandable. Besides, according to Fantano himself from the above clip, he only made around $2K U.S. off of the channel, which is rather small change to the numbers one can confidently assume he rakes in from TND.
Personally, while I’m not happy to see this recent controversy come about, I am glad that Fantano has dropped TITP. As for me, I just didn’t find it at all funny or that engaging. I mean, this remaining unlisted video called “You Laugh, You Lose BLOOD! (Spongebob Edition)” as one particular example isn’t all that funny and is pretty cringy overall. However, I’d argue that “The Normie Rant‘” is one of the rare genuinely enjoyable clips one could have found on that now-terminated channel. But hey, that’s just me and me not having grown up on Reddit and 4Chan pre-current social media/2007. Which is what Fantano did, hence the dude’s deep love of memes.
I’m also glad because it means that Fantano can ditch this memey shitposting that hasn’t done him any favours (the promoters for The Needle Drop’s upcoming anniversary shows in the U.S. cancelled said shows amid these events, as Noisey reports) and because now the critic can invest more time and deeper focus into TND. Hopefully, all resulting in far greater content for what is already a great, pioneering YouTube channel.
The other big gripe that those articles had was Fantano having a proper edge lord like Sam Hyde (known for his kitsch memes and work on the short-lived Adult Swim sketch series, Million Dollar Extreme), to appear on episode #33 of TND’s podcast back in January 2016. Other than it ultimately being a very awkward interview, it just wasn’t the best idea in the world. Especially with Hyde disgustingly describing how he’d (KEY PHRASE) physically defend himself from Lena Dunham if she tried to “come at me”, saying:
“I’ll be nailing her, I’ll be punching her in the back of the neck, I’ll be boxing her eyes in. I’ll break both her orbital bones. I’m gonna destroy Lena Dunham so badly that the people that come to clean her up, they’re gonna be puking when they see what I did to her. I want them to know how I feel about her, so I’m gonna fuck her up so bad that they’re gonna puke when they see her bruised mangled body.”
[Note: Dunham and Hyde have some real beef with each other. Basically, to frame their rivalry in video game terms, one’s Liquid Snake, the other’s Solid Snake. And for those who don’t get that particular reference, just know that they simply hate each other’s guts.]
Some people will label Hyde’s comments as either being absurdist humour or as “satire”. I’d just call them shitty, personally. And while Fantano addresses this moment in the clip – which Fader used as a “smoking gun” argument against him even though Hyde’s other BS went down a few months after this episode aired – I do think that Melon should’ve challenged Hyde further on such comments, and held firmer ground than saying “You know a lot of people will hear this?”. Likewise, back in 2015 on episode #26 of his podcast, Fantano hosted YouTuber, political commentator (ha, he fuckin’ wishes) and “anti-SJW” Sargon of Akkad, real name Carl Benjamin. If you want to get a quick but thorough grasp on Akkad’s sheer logical idiocy, the downright terrific HBomberguy shows the real contention and fallacy of Akkad’s online work and beliefs with this killer video as well as this great piece.
Now, having either of those dudes on one’s own podcast is all fine on paper. As having an actual discussion with differing people and their different beliefs is how you can maybe change minds, understand someone’s belief system better, get wider context, or just come to realise how much you really despise them. But it’s hard telling that to people who will, at the very mention of Benjamin’s online moniker or Hyde’s name, reject any and all content that’s associated with the two. Even if the said host of that content (Anthony Fantano) is nowhere near as extreme as Hyde and nowhere near as stupid as Benjamin.
To help wrap up, a few other points.
One matter that hasn’t really been addressed in all of is Fantano’s musically inept ‘Cal Chuchesta’ character, seen occasionally on TND. While funny every now and then and while never evil in intent, it may to some out there display a vast racist stereotype… even though the voice Fantano uses for the character is a thick, almost-exaggerated Minnesotan accent, not unlike the ones you’d hear on a season of Fargo). However, good ol’ Cal has been appearing less and less in Fantano’s videos over time since Fantano “killed him off” but then later “revived” him.
Secondly, some have drawn attention to Fantano’s actual audience stats, which he supposedly subconsciously feeds into the very worst of, with his viewership actually being 94% male internationally. (That’s a statistic as recent as November 2016, mind you). This is a figure he mentions to writer Jeremy Gordon in a 2016 SPIN feature. And man, that is a baseless aspect to focus on as a damning negative of Fantano and his work, because you know, he cannot control who out there watches his videos! He’s covered many female, trans and non-cis artists on his channel over the years and while he can try to cater to wider demographics, that’s a rather irrelevant factor I find.
Finally, and to say it again, Fantano’s no glistening angel, but neither am I either. After all, so very few of us actually are. And to play the always-loathed Captain Hindsight, making a “comedic” memey channel, even one that was clearly just the YouTuber creating stupidly ironic, over the top content, didn’t help him in the long run. While this BS will most likely soon be behind him (a controversy which may have actually helped him in terms of public awareness and in gaining larger viewership), I do hope that Fantano gains some wider self-awareness from these events. Thus, in turn, becoming a stronger online personality and a deeper music critic moving forward.
Anyway, getting right back to the actual music, here’s a recent review from Fantano on the new Iglooghost album, ‘Neo Wax Bloom‘. Which is actually a pretty sick electronic album, by the way.
Elsewhere, Fantano posted a really interesting piece last week about how there are less and less negative reviews in music media these days. You can watch that video here. And speaking of negative reviews, I should probably get around to finalising my Sleeping With Sirens and Across The Atlantic album reviews sometime this week…