Singapore—Internet success is a peculiar thing. Some find it through following tried and tested formulas. Others find it by forging a different way.
YouTuber Sneaky Sushii is definitely in the second camp, and by calling out those who have taken the “sex sells” and other formulaic routes, he’s managed to find a loyal following, and with his commentary on Singaporean pop culture, may even prove to have longer staying power than popular YouTubers who have more followers than he does.
Not a lot is known about Sneaky Sushii, who only gives his first name, ‘Jay’ in a recent profile in the South China Morning Post (SCMP). An online bio says he went to Ngee Ann Polytechnic for pre-university studies, graduating with a diploma in Film, Sound & Video from the School of Film & Media Studies. Around 2014, he went to Nanyang Technological University to study filmmaking at the School of Arts, Design, and Media, but left after a year and a half, explaining in one of his videos that he “didn’t see the value in taking four years and spending so much money to get a degree in something that I can basically learn from YouTube.”
He was first thrust into the public eye in July of last year, when, in his first YouTube video, he took on popular Singaporean celebrities on the platform, including JianHao Tan, Wah!Banana and Night Owl Cinematics (NOC).
The title of his debut video, “How Not To Be A Singaporean YouTuber,” should have been a dead giveaway as to what was coming.
He parodied the formulaic approach some YouTubers have, saying, “Find a semi-hot influencer, gather the ‘t**** committee’ and put them in all of your thumbnails. That’s like 90 per cent of the job done.”
And while the video was taken down from YouTube for copyright issues, it can still be seen on Facebook here. The snark lives on. But it is snark with substance, granted, as he calls out overtly sexual content, among other tired tropes, and points out that there is something lacking in the content of Singaporean YouTubers. Creativity? Maybe. Or innovation. But then he also took the time in within the video, which is under five minutes long, to feature award-winning, if little-seen, Singaporean films, such as Iloilo and To Singapore with love.
And it’s not as though dragging local YouTubers is his whole schtick, because he ends his first video with a surprisingly hopeful note, highlighting the content in such channels as The BenZi Project and Our Father’s Story.
“I talk about things I find interesting,” as Jay says on the About page of his Facebook account.
As for his detractors, SCMP quotes him as saying, “I’m here to create dope-a** satirical videos – and if you don’t know the meaning of the word, you’re probably not my target demographic.”
What Jay also does is provide a commentary on Singapore itself.
He told SCMP, “A lot of content creators tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to making content. I think it’s just a cultural thing. In Singapore, we’re not encouraged to take the road less travelled – most people see making YouTube videos as a hobby that will never amount to anything.
But the result of that is a lack of new YouTubers to add to the vibrancy of our local scene – and the ones who try just end up making the same boring content, because it’s tried and tested. Or they join the bigger channels as talent.
Singapore is a weird country. We’re a highly Westernised country, but with deep traditional values – some might say it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what the ‘Singaporean identity’ is.” —/TISG