'How to Eat Sausage': the Youtube Tutorial You Didn't See Coming
Featureman is an American pensioner making videos of himself cooking and eating simple, slightly depressing foods. And the internet is loving it.
As a dedicated Youtube addict, I'd like to think I've got my ear to the ground on the latest trends. My finger to the pulse of popularity. But only recently did I discover the Youtube phenomenon of Featureman. Featureman – real name Tom Willet – is an elderly man from the US who has been making videos on Youtube since the very beginning of the site. He first made videos of stock market tutorials and fun piano songs, but recently has turned his hand to recipe tutorials and food reviews.
Someone ought to tell this guy about Foodtribe: he's doing side to side comparisons of vegan and regular burgers; reviews of classic canned goods; and tutorials of everything and anything. He has reviewed most of the big fast food restaurants' burgers, a variety of tinned meats, ready mix macaroni cheese, and lots more besides.
The titles of the tutorials are amusing: how to eat rice, how to eat cornflakes, and how to eat sausage, for example. But it's clear that this is not accidental. Nonetheless, there's some witty commenters who seem pretty certain they're the first to notice the absurdity of a cornflakes tutorial. One writes, sarcastically:
'This tutorial could not have come at a better time! I just recently procured a box of Corn Flakes but was perplexed on how to use the product.'
It's worth noting that he usually spruces things up in the tutorials, so they really are worth a watch. Admittedly the results aren't always enormously appealing:
But nonetheless, he has a devoted, and decidedly large fanbase: over 200,000 subscribers! And comment sections filled with messages of adoration; people find his videos meditative, calming and binge-worthy.
I think what is appealing is the insight into the life of an ageing individual. In many ways Featureman represents a marginalised group, and he bears this representational role well. He shares with the camera and with the world the joys of his lifestyle, but the shortcomings come across too. By this I refer to videos like Eating a Watermelon with my Clone and Thanksgiving Dinner for One or Two. Both seem poignant and a touch sad, and demonstrate that while the food is the main topic of the videos, the appeal is, perhaps, in the human story.