by Miriam Ronzoni on August 19, 2022

I discovered “Breadtube” relatively recently (I know, pathetic…) and I am completely hooked. Breadtube is a Youtube genre consisting in publishing long, complex video essays of left-leaning content, often aimed at debunking right-wing conspiracies or conservative arguments. The term is used to refer both to the genre itself and to the loose group of content creators in this genre.

Breadtube video essays are almost always fairly long and complex, requiring a good attention span and the willingness to follow the content creator along in what is usually a tricky, multi-stepped argument. Several “Breadtubers” have an academic background – e.g. in philosophy, history, or economics – and are not shy to use it. Indeed, one might say that what they are doing is reinventing the genre of the academic argument and giving it a new shape.

Breadtube video essays are also – often, at least – visually very elaborate, although this is not considered a necessary element of the genre. The primary example is Contrapoints, who often impersonates different, extravagantly dressed and behaved, characters and structures her argument around a narrative that has them as protagonists. Often this takes the form of a debate between different positions, accompanied by exuberant aesthetics, music, and bits and pieces of more theatrical performance – a revisited French salon, or Socratic dialogue, of sorts. Other “breadtubers” who used to create more classical video essays (i.e. videos which consisted in talking to the camera lecture-style, at most showing some images, videos, and graphs) have recently largely followed Contrapoints’ style (see e.g. Philosophy Tube, or Mia Mulder).

The point of this post is really just to flag Breadtube to readers who haven’t yet been exposed to this genre, because it is really pretty great. I had discovered Anita Sarkeesian’s Feminist Frequency before (I used to start my third year module on feminism by showing her brilliant video on Lego), and in a way she can be considered a Breadtube predecessor. Yet, there is something unique about the artistic quality and the effort put in curating the formal and aesthetic aspects of the best Breadtube videos, as well as their use of wit and irony to make an argument. Some content is a little naïve, but most is absolutely brilliant. I now assign Contrapoints’s video responding to gender critical feminism as one of the core readings in my course, and I have uploaded both her and Philosophy Tube’s video essays on beauty as recommended material for my week on gendered standards of appearance. More recently, Contrapoints has even moved beyond the genre of the video essay narrowly conceived: her last few videos are no longer “debates with frocks,” but proper stories with a philosophical morale (Voltaire comes to mind).

You might think this is all very well, but ultimately just more content for the usual lefty, intellectual, edgy bubble. Yet Contrapoints has a reasonably impressive (and apparently not merely anecdotal) record in “deradicalising” young right wingers. It is worth asking whether these are new forms of political, ad broadly speaking “public intellectual,” communication with broader potential than even many of its regular consumers might dare imagining. I will certainly keep an eye on them.





Bethany 08.19.22 at 10:56 pm

I think this is absolutely great that you’ve discovered these YouTubers! And it’s really great that you’re using Anita Sarkeesian’s videos in your class. I’m a 50-something trans woman who came out a few years ago so I found it interesting that you highlighted Contrapoints, Philosophy Tube and Mia Mulder, all of whom are trans women. Contrapoints is my queen and Philosophy Tube has taught me so much philosophy. Mia Mulder is a rising star and has made some excellent videos lately. I was going to tease you about this (“breadtube” is soo 2019) but I’m very happy that you like them and are sharing them with your followers! I also highly recommend Big Joel, Hbomberguy and Lindsey Ellis.


Miriam Ronzoni 08.20.22 at 5:40 am

Has anything happened after 2019? ;)
Seriously though, I thought it might be worth sharing because I suspect there might be several CTers and CT readers in my same situation (I did watch Contrapoints’ video Gender Critical when it was first published, but I would say I only discovered the genre properly half a year ago).
So, what are the reasons why Breadtube is no longer used as a term?
I guess an interest I have is whether there is some even broader potential for this political and intellectual forms of communication, have you got any thoughts on this?


nastywoman 08.20.22 at 6:05 am

‘have you got any thoughts on this?’


Robert 08.20.22 at 11:13 am

Do you know what a twitch streamer is? I am not sure I do, but I stumbled on some interesting debates last year. I do the link from my name may be atypical, but it certainly was talked about.


Bethany 08.20.22 at 2:59 pm

There were a glut of videos a couple years ago discussing Breadtube and the popular Breadtubers but I don’t see it referred to as such these days. I don’t know the origination of the term but you rarely see any Breadtuber refer to themselves as such lately. My guess is the term came from the outside to describe this genre and was accepted by the artists but not fully embraced.
I’m not sure what the potential for this style is but if I were a teacher of an intro to philosophy course, I would use Philosophy Tube as a resource. If someone asked me about crypto or NFTs, I would point them to the Folding Idea’s video, “Line Goes Up”. It’s a long video that does an excellent job of describing crypto and NFTs (and how bad they are).


KT2 08.20.22 at 10:10 pm

I discovered Contrapoints during the Jordan Paterson bubble. And as I have just discovered the term “TERF” I am again dipping into Contrapoints. One of my relations has a friend in mid teens, who is transgender and in NSW Australia. the Education dept has just relaxed bathroom policy. He started using the ‘boys’ toilets. Lasted a week before he was houded out and now uses the disabled toilet. We have a long way to go. This transgender teenager is streets ahead in emotional and cultural intelligence than any teenager I have met.

And sign me up!… “absolutely brilliant. I now assign Contrapoints’s video responding to gender critical feminism as one of the core readings in my course, and I have uploaded both her and Philosophy Tube’s video essays on beauty as recommended material. ‘.

Miriam, will you please link to course notes? I will inform those derided by terf’s in my local cultural desert in mid western NSW (about the same politically & culturally as US mid west).


J-D 08.21.22 at 5:59 am

My guess is the term came from the outside to describe this genre and was accepted by the artists but not fully embraced.

‘Originally the label was imposed on these creators, and while they all identify with it to varying degrees, there remains a vibrant debate as to who is part of the movement.’


Sophie Jane 08.21.22 at 11:05 am

I’d also recommend Abigail Thorn’s Philosophy Tube videos in general, and her post-transition stuff in particular. Not technically part of breadtube, however that’s defined these days, but definitely relevant to your interests:


TM 08.22.22 at 2:08 pm

Contrapoints has an impressive number of subscribers but only one of her videos is less than a year old…


David in Tokyo 08.22.22 at 2:39 pm

Thanks for recommending Abigail Thorn. I especially enjoyed her latest one

since I dabble in photography and jazz and (mostly Japanese) literature.

I find Some More News a tad over the top and long winded, but still useful (e.g. in covering Jordan Peterson as blatant sleaze as opposed to Thorn’s dealing with him as a subtle sleaze.).


nastywoman 08.23.22 at 11:43 am

and furthermore –
it’s not fun if the videos are too easy to understand
if they’re made for HUUUGE audiences –
as the following video –
proves –


oldster 08.23.22 at 9:35 pm

“I now assign Contrapoints’s video responding to gender critical feminism as one of the core readings in my course….”

That seems like a fine idea, since much can be learned about the difference between rhetorical performance and philosophy by watching the video and then reading the transcript.
As performance, it is riveting. As argumentation, when seen in the transcript, it is very, very thin stuff. It offers some prima facie counters to gender critical feminism, but nothing persuasive or insightful. There’s some whatabouting, there’s some special pleading, there’s some arguments from victim-status, and not much more.

I am a fan of Natalie Wynn’s material, having recommended her discussion of “cancel culture” on these very pages. But this video is a lesson in what it looks like when a smart person covers weak arguments with performative flair. Very useful for training philosophers!


Mikhail Shubin 08.26.22 at 10:28 pm

Has anything happened after 2019? ;)

It worth mentioning that some of the most prominent breadtubers were “cancelled”. Lindsay Ellis was a subject of public harassment campaign and left youtube. Natalie Wynn was a subject of public harassment campaign and, well, she stays on youtube but posts much less frequently now.


Mikhail Shubin 08.26.22 at 10:47 pm

I’d also recommend Abigail Thorn’s Philosophy Tube videos in general

I newer got into watching Philosophy Tube. I usually find her videos boring and shallow, it feels like her substance/performance ratio is way too low compared to other breadtubers. There is also some factual criticism of her work, i.e.

Economist criticising Thorn on housing economics

Philosophy professor criticising Thorn on Kant

But… maybe I should try watching her again?

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