What’s the Deal With Unboxing Videos? | Idea Channel | PBS Digital Studios


Here’s an idea: Unboxing Videos make objects more
sensual… Not that kind of sensual though. Ok so the new thing is coming out, the new
video game thing, or apple thing, or phone… thing And days or weeks before, or maybe even on
the eve of the release, a lucky few in possession of said Coveted Thing record and upload …
an UNBOXING VIDEO. Y’know: someone. An object. The object’s in
the box. The someone takes the object out of the box On video. VIOLA! UNBOXING VIDEO. Unboxing vids are kind of like the ballpark
frank of internet videos: they exist most naturally in a very specific context. Outside of which they’re not widely known
or well regarded, but inside of which they are a STAPLE. Unboxing videos are POPULAR,
but never go VIRAL. They are EXPECTED but not really NEEDED. Like death, taxes and I guess at this particular
point in history Justin Beiber getting arrested, you can COUNT ON THEM. Also Justin,
what are you doing? The unboxing video provides a very strange…
service. Because it’s not normally during the UNBOXING vid that we’re getting
our first look at whatever the thing is. Be it an ipad, xbone, ps or phone — we’ve
normally seen the Thing a thousand times on billboards and commercials and banners
and here’s the thing look at the thing it’s EVERYWHERE! And while the marketing video does show us what these things LOOK LIKE, weirdly it’s the unboxing that shows us what they ARE. The unbox shows us A real person with A
real object. And though, yes, it is another piece of media like the marketing
materials are… It depicts the thing, ostensibly NOT photoshopped,
not massaged, unfooled-around-with, in all of its glorious vestments. The unboxing video is the process of presenting
the object of desire in a state of undress. To describe, the unboxing video as partially erotic
wouldn’t be entirely inaccurate, I don’t think. While there are some companies who in their advertising
make the connection between eroticized human body and their product
more explicit than others– our current, particularly commercialized
epoch tends to turn MANY or most products into objects of desire. In the undressing of the object what is being
removed is just as much its its garb as it is its HYPE
or lofty productized image. And sometimes if the object itself is not eroticized then
the act of acquiring it IS. And on a related but unrelated note, I also think of
this as accounting for the existence of certain kinds of ASMR videos, too. But that’s…
another conversation for later. It could also be about the REALNESS of those objects. Beyond on a small scale communicating our distrust of
advertising and marketing images… the unbox does show us THE real object, and
not just in the moment it is revealed… but in all the pageantry that is
required to do so. You know, like digging through all the plastic
bits and bags and stuff. Or maybe not REAL but SENSUAL. Philosopher
Graham Harman talks about a distinction between “real” and “sensual” objects-and-qualities.
Realness, he says, cannot be experienced. And sensuality can ONLY be experienced. Most
things which must or do exist in the world as a singular object– this horse, my pickup truck, our calzone,
Seemingly all Around Nice Guy Dave Coulier– are REAL objects with SENSUAL qualities. Meaning, if I
were to just disappear, my truck would still be a truck. To others, it would still be a specific truck. Realness here doesn’t mean what it normally
does; REALNESS here is a kind of … reference You can THINK about REAL objects but you can
never have ANY experience of them – like TRUCKNESS helps you understand what a truck is, but
doesn’t reference one, specific truck. There ARE, in addition, the reverse: Sensual
Objects with Real Qualities. e.g. minotaurs, flying cars, perfectly toroidal
pizza, North Korean Dictator Dave Coulier and snow which falls up. These things can be EXPERIENCED but only by
virtue of qualities which are assembled intellectually. They depend upon our presence. If we
disappear, MINOTAURS disappear. My truck, however, would remain. So then maybe it’s that the unboxing video defeats
some of the REALNESS of the marketing material which are full of emphemerality and non-sensical
ad speak and makes the consumer object more SENSUAL–more open to our experiences,
or at the very least imparts more SENSUAL QUALITIES where it previously was
mainly an idea. And though it is ANOTHER image or set
of images, the context is completely different from the billboard or the product launch at
CES or whatever. The unboxing is usually a citizen consumer,
an informal setting, and a singular object– not like in most advertising, an ideal of the object. Of course, there is a necessary precondition
to this whole arrangement and that is an infatuation with the thing to begin with. The unboxing video, except for its bizzare
pageantry, might not be a draw for someone who is otherwise uninterested in next gen gaming
consoles, phones, or whatever… this… is. To be concerned with the appearance and packaging
of a product one must think of appearance and packaging as things worthy
of concern. And even a lot of us who are invested in
product lines, technology, and product design have no problem waiting for The Thing Itself
to be properly released. Before digging through all the
stuff with our own hands. Perhaps it’s that the unboxing video is a kind
of “leak”, a production still or trailer for the Object fandom. It shows some, but doesn’t ruin the personal
and complete experience of, the real thing. It is a hint, a teaser. It sexes up the thing, in a novel way, without
spoiling its entirety. Unless…you buy things just to unbox them. And here we are back at
ASMR again! What do you guys think? Why do people
make and watch unboxing videos? Let us know in the comments and the best
and worst thing about subscribing to Idea Channel is that it comes with no packaging. To thine own selfie be true. Let’s see what
you had to say about selfies as speech acts. gennyloves points out some feminist
arguments for the attitude to that people have towards selfies and talks about
how maybe this is troubling to some people because women,
in turning the camera on themselves, are sort of taking agency over their objectification which is,
I think, really interesting. Some people also sent me some links to
some things that were written in Jezebel, xojane a couple other places. We’ll put some links in the description. I think this is, I think this
is a really interesting reading on selfies. Iman Behzadian says that the selfie is an annoying
thing because it causes you to compare your life to that of the selfie-taker and I wonder if
people who have this attitude which is one that I saw a couple times if they feel this way about all forms of art: painting and music and photography because
I would say that that is true in almost all creative endeavors. I don’t know.
What do you guys think about this, this attitude? Yayitsscarlett kind of gets to the heart of
the matter and says that people don’t like selfies because it is an example of how
self-obsessed we have all become to which I would say I’m pretty sure we’ve always been self-obsessed
and this goes back I think to my argument that
you can really dislike the people who take selfies for all different
kinds of reasons, but the selfie itself: totally innocent. Standing by it. Selfie, innocent. Matt Crowell
and getdownliberty wrote really insightful comments about
the selfie being a thing for the picture taker and that the audience than
having to reorient themselves in a confusing way towards that, so we’ll just put links to
these comments in the description. They’re super-good. Olaseni, for the record that is
exactly what I meant I did mean that. Natchy describes the most common criticism leveled against selfies and selfie-takers and then clues us into a piece of Brazilian slang for
describing what a person is when they are
criticizing someone for seemingly no reason. I might start using this if it’s not also secretly a very dirty word.
To Harry D, I want to just make this incredibly clear: Not a fan of Sherry Turkle. Was being very
sarcastic, maybe we’ll put up big sarcasm lights the next time, because I should
be very clear about that. Not a fan. When I said favorite person, I
meant the opposite of that. Cat MacEachern talks about selfies as a kind
of method of self-care which is really really interesting and then also says that some of the hate could come
from the fact that selfies are thought of by many people as
being a domain of young girls and that there is not a great
general cultural attitude towards young women, so yeah. Erin Merriman Zenor writes a comment
which, after reading, you can never again complain about the
utility of selfless. You’re done. Your argument is now invalid.
Giascle makes a really great comment about the utility of certain bits of social media
and make me think of this attitude that I see a lot of which is people feeling like they
are owed something by the folks that they follow on social
media and that the selfie is one very particular and egregious
transgression of some kind of contract that they’ve signed into, so yeah, it’s a very complex attitude about
what kinds of media you willingly subject yourself to, and who has the, who has the responsibility. Your bi-monthly
reminder that there is no such thing as over thinking and anything made by a person
is important and interesting is brought to you by someone called thedaygamers. Thank you, thedaygamers, I disagree. This week’s episode was brought to you by
the hard work of these sensual objects. if you haven’t seen it already I guest starred
on Mashable’s 5 Facts with Matt and Annie. It’s an episode about the iPhone. It was
super-fun. We’ll put a link to that in the description and you should definitely
watch it. We have a facebook, an IRC and a subreddit and the Tweet of the Week
comes from Nick McLaughlin who points us towards a linguistic analysis of Doge. Yes, that’s right. Doge And for our record change this week we
replace John Vanderslice with Tomita playing Holst’s The Planets. Goodbye John Vanderslice, welcome Tomita

100 thoughts on “What’s the Deal With Unboxing Videos? | Idea Channel | PBS Digital Studios

  1. Please do ASMR videos! I want to know if you share the wonderful brain tingles.

  2. When I see "Unboxing videos is because I want to know what if it will be worth my money or not. 

  3. As a climber I like to watch videos of people climbing because I can feel a fraction what they're feeling (strain, fear etc.). As a gamer I like to watch people playing for the same reasons. And I like to open a new long waited for product, so I feel a fraction of the excitement watching an unboxing video of something I'd like to buy.
    The fraction's not worth the time lost though, but I thought I'd share a theory you didn't mention.

  4. Because there's nothing more satisfying in life than opening a box of an item you just bought. lol
    It's almost like the videos are for people to vicariously enjoy the fun of opening boxes.

    And did anyone else try to click out of the bottom banner at 1:15? lmao

  5. When someone spends 100+ extra dollars just for the "privilege" of being one of the first to get some hot new item, you can be damned sure their fragile ego is going to need some public affirmation.  Hence, unboxing videos.

  6. Unless its something like Collectible Card Game packs, where you don't know whats in the box, then I don't get, or enjoy these kinds of videos at all.

  7. I usually use unboxings as a means of getting information about the contents of the package. Personally I just like knowing what I'm going to get too, so I know what to expect. Will I have to go out and buy something in order to use this or does it come with the things I need. Usually the videos I watch include a little first view review as well, which is always nice 😀

  8. It may sound strange but I can't wait for the iPhone 6 unboxing video's though I probably will have unboxed it myself before seeing the video's. Makes me think of doing my own…

  9. It's the same question I have with Let's Play videos why people like them, I personal dislike them I can't stand the player talking nonsense while playing.

  10. unboxing videos.. is good for people who have a sort of addiction type feelings or obsession about particular items.. For instance if you bought something that is going to take a while to receive.. you may have a sort of itching or impatience in side of you.. making you wish your item was here now.. So you watch the unboxing videos to sort of appease  your brain …  some people have brains that obsess over things.. and it sort of has a calming effect.. or maybe to some it makes things worse..  It goes along with excitement.. Another reason why a person may watch unboxing videos is perhaps they would like to see what the item looks like in a real person's home… because often times the advertised image or videos of particular items are not really exactly the same as what one would actually receive.. often times companies advertising images are of the prototype and not the actual finished product.. The unboxing videos might give a person a better idea as to what all the item includes and what they would expect to see when they receive their copy of the product.. that's just my thoughts..

  11. I really needed to watch this to understand the fad. Even though I've done some unboxing vids, and watched a bunch it still perplexes me. I think no matter how you slice it, unboxing vids are still silly. 

  12. Ouch!  These vids should be a staple for another YouTube channel: Rob Dykes "Why Would You Put That On The Internet?".

  13. I watch unboxing of kpop albums I'm just curious about how they look. Or if I plan on purchasing the album, I'd like to see what it comes with

  14. 5:42 – this looks a lot like Hamilton Morris from Vice, I find that funny.
    I find your use of "sensual" rather confusing. Do you mean like "of the senses"?
    Erin Zenor's comment is sensible and moving, very good point, she might have actually changed my mind about selfies… all over again.
    Last but not least, another argument in favour of answering comments on old videos is that when you answer the comments on the previous videos you say stuff like "What do you think about that?", seemingly inviting a conversation? But the comments replying to you won't be answered… WHY heardbroken sob :-S?
    And I do realize that with this logic you'd end up talking about the same thread of comment replies week after week after week… meh

  15. i usually buy things 2nd hand and i like unboxings because of that little missing piece of experience with my 2nd hand product. also when selling it serves to know how things were originally packaged in order to preserve some of its perceived value to the customer.

  16. I have been directed here from the not too deep podcast. I don't know why but all I can think about is not the actual content, which for sake of reference was really good, but the fact he used the word reference as a verb. Grammatically it really bugs me, primarily because it has adopted use as a colloquial term just because it is used so much. I'm weird.

  17. I might just be weird but I occasionally go on Amazon or eBay and search for things I don't really want because the idea of having enough money to buy stuff and the potential oppurtunity to buy stufff pleases me as much as a new object itself.

  18. Unboxing is the equivalent of opening a present that's sat under a Christmas tree.  People are conditioned to seeing packages and wondering what's inside. Sometimes the package and the anticipation of opening is more interesting than the actual product.  The surprise one gets after opening a package and seeing the product is like an orgasm.

  19. I personally watch them because when I buy myself something 'special', I'm usually very excited about the process and all the extra stuff you get with it and you didnt expect. It's a special kind of emotional experience for me when I unbox something when it's in its pristine condition, which will fade away after a few days and become just one of the old things in the house and won't have that 'newness' to it. So to make it cheaper without wasting my own money I watch other people waste money on things, and I partially experience the joy of opening something new that has that 'new car smell'. For that reason my best friend gave me a US MRE package for my birthday a few days back, because he knows I like food and small packages for that unboxing experience 🙂

  20. I'll tell you why some people make unboxing videos.  It's a practical way to cover your fanny, and save yourself $$$ and grief.  A few years ago I bought a power drill and when I opened it, the rechargeable battery pack was missing.  I contacted the retailer who told me, "Sorry, bub, I know what you're trying to pull!  You just want an extra battery pack for free!"  There was no way to prove I wasn't lying — so from then on, for me it was VIDEO ALL UNBOXINGS!

  21. I watch them because instruction manuals are a weird combination of text and still pictures, whereas the unboxing video can show how to actually do the thing.  E.g., I watched an unboxing video for my new printer because, without it, I couldn't figure out how to feed it paper.

  22. My issue is basically once there is one unboxing video for a product, there's no need to ever make another one. It's done. It's the same exact experience. There's nothing more to add.

  23. 0:42 YES!  MAINE!  MOXIE!  WOOOOOOoooooOOO <– (from maine, loves moxie)

  24. 6:00 To thine own selfie be true. About comments on previous week's show on selfies.

  25. I watch an un-boxing video typically when it is a limited edition item that I couldn't get my hands on (and, furthermore, doing so would cost way too much).

    If you need a concrete example, look up the Limited Edition of Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;birth1 for Vita.  I want it so badly, but it is so indefinitely out of my grasp.

  26. i watch them bc i want the things and since i can't have my own yet it's a good substitute for the time being…… still though…… i want them so bad……

  27. Jezebel? Isn't that a radical feminist website? I'm pretty sure I've heard of it before. Sounds familiar…

  28. First of all, thanks for your Blogs in general. Very inspiring and well researched. About unboxing videos: Yes, I agree, these Videos make the objects more sensual. On the other hand of course unboxing videos, like every piece of Film exist in the way they are because of the psychology of the director. My Thesis on this is that they are the result of  the lack of "content of interest" in most of the average peoples lifes compared to the platform they are given to distribute it (Social Media, Smartphones etc.). One of the unique selling proposition of social media platforms and smartphones is that we were all artists "in need" of a platform for our content. Of course in reality we were not. But when we bought into it we had to come up with ideas how to fill that gap. This is when people "realised" (not really but sort of) that they could make their CONSUMPTION OF PRODUCTS BECOME CONTENT! Est Viola! Unboxing videos! (aaaaaand fotos of what you order in restaurants… just sayiiiiin….)

  29. watch Mysterious DC Toys Collector ….then you will know why ppl watch unboxing videos
    BASICALLY, pervs

  30. You just spent 6 minutes begging the question. Probably the worst of your videos to watch because it has made me not want to watch anymore of your videos. 

  31. For me, unboxing videos are more like a guide on how to use the product, what it comes with, what parts to put where, and ect.

  32. This one's easy. Everyone likes to brag when they get something new, right? Nobody likes bragging so it's disguised as a public service.

  33. Wow you make soooooo many great vids i dont know Which one
    to watch First 😁

  34. Came here for mildly interesting video
    Revived factual and curious video
    Now I'm mildly disturbed

  35. I watch unboxing videos of like cellphones Im thinking to buy to see what to expect and how they actually look. Also they usually have some of the specifications of the cellphone in the video so its useful. On the other hand me watching unboxing videos of the new nintendo 3ds before it came to america was more of like since is thrilling to open a new thing for the first time it would be for me like a second hand experience of that. Since I wasnt gonna get the new 3ds anytime soon. And againg to see what the box has n how the actual thing looks.

  36. I've watched unboxing videos before to give me more information on certain products… Sometimes it's easier to get the information you need that way

  37. So basically Unboxing vids are to commercials as homemade porn is to Brazzers. Consumer culture is debase and disgusting.

  38. I came to learn about how to present a good unboxing video, and I've left with an entire history of global internet marketing, art, philosophy and well, almost but not quite the actual meaning of life! Great Video!

  39. Hello I have a question. If I was going to record with my iPhone, how can I view the camera without standing up and checking on it every once and awhile? I have an iPad do you think there's a way I could check it from there?

  40. I think unboxing videos are good and bad. I usually watch one video just to see what it looks like (e.g Lootcrate) but things like Kinder egg unboxing (if thats the proper word for them) videos are just odd. "Hey guys,watch a 24 year old man open oval-ish chocolate with little toys inside of them!!! Yay!!" Or "Hey Guys,watch me open this disney themed mega blocks thing!"

  41. I don't like unboxing vids, mainly because they are like spoilers since i want to unbox the thing when i buy it myself! Like when i got my first ps2, the unboxing was just a special feeling(until i realized i missed a piece of equipment to connect it to my TV and thus had to go back to the city and buy it -_-) which i think might have been spoiled if i had watched an ps2 unboxing video before.

  42. I'm starting a YouTube channel.
    You like gaming vids? We got em'!
    You like Unboxing vids? We got em'!
    You like Vlogs? We got em'!
    (P.S. I currently have not uploaded any videos yet. I would say wait till December and then subscribe. A lot of unboxing vids will be coming out then.)

  43. 6:50 saying that this generation is more self-obsessed than previous generations is pretty self-obsessed.

  44. Objects in commercials aren't even photoshopped. They are renders of 3D models of that object. So yeah it makes sense hat people want to know how actual product looks like.

  45. I watch unboxing's both to see the actual item from the not so biased perspective of a consumer, and also to put my excitement at bay.

  46. I don't see the point of them. If you want to find out what's in a package you can read about it on some website, why sit through a video where a guy is talking in a monotone voice? Unless it's a grab bag package where the person does not know what's in the package (like a DVD grab bag), I don't see the point of them

  47. I see two main factors that cause us to enjoy unboxing videos so much: mirror neurons, and capitalist society. We love purchasing and opening things (self Christmas!), and we can deeply empathize with others to the point where we can get immediate satisfaction just by watching someone else do something we personally enjoy.

  48. It's interesting to me that this talks about unboxing videos without talking about haul videos, and actually in a way that mostly focuses on the things that are specific to unboxing. I am a watcher of thrift haul videos, rather than unboxing ones, but I'd never really thought of them as being as different as I'm realizing they are. Hauls are more show-and-tell, while unboxings are more about the unwrapping and reaction.

  49. Unboxing videos are just anoying and a waste of my time, which is why I stopped watching them.

  50. how to make unboxing videos like unbox therapy channel plz make a video on this

  51. You make a good point, but I think there's more to this. It could be some strange byproduct of social curiosity. It's not enough to just watch a movie. We want to talk to people about that movie. We want to know what they think. I think that desire for a second opinion is part of why this is a thing.

  52. I watch them as a brief review of what I plan to buy or in the case of UxboxTherapy, cool stuff that I don't plan to buy

  53. can you do something like this for let's play videos? i have my own ideas, but i want to see your take on it

  54. Unboxing videos make people more excited about a product, or allow them to experience a product they cannot afford to buy

  55. To say we've always been self-centred is correct. But if you look at community-based cultures like those in Asia (that includes the Middle East), you might be selfish but you also care about your community. So no, we haven't always been this self-centred to the point that others matter if it helps you matter more (speaking in general here)

  56. Simply, it's one of the best ways to check how the actual thing looks like without all this marketing crap.

  57. I don't get the unboxing thing. Opening a box just doesn't excite me much, but to each his/her own I guess.

  58. Thanks for not taking a massive shot at the genre of unboxing. I use toy unboxings as fun, upbeat background noise while I work (shoutout to pstoyreviews). I am also looking to become a toy designer, so I like to keep up on trends and simply enjoy looking at blind bags, collector's figures, and other items to see how well they are crafted and received by collectors.
    There are plenty more reasons why someone would enjoy them. ASMR, as you said, is a huge draw. The sensory aspect of it is undeniable for many people. Packaging simply sounds good to folks. Seeing new items being unwrapped is a pleasant experience; seeing objects wrapped, almost in the form of gifts, is uplifting and positive. Some items are fun to look at, and it's fun to see how they work. People want to know the quality of the real thing beyond advertisements. People want opinions, they want comparisons, interaction, and mostly, they just want to be informed.
    That said, I don't think anyone needs a specific reason for watching them. They are pretty wholesome entertainment at the very least.

  59. Unboxing videos are for people who can't bring themselves to read the specs.

  60. You are talking a load of rubbish. I avoid unboxing videos I am interested in what the product does with a good review.

  61. My theory is that "unboxing" is not about the product so much as it is about "look at what I got ME" or simply "look at me". It's all about more airtime/face time for egotists.

  62. An incredibly precise pointillistic exploration of a seemingly inert topic, done with much wit and insight. If you like this venture, you should read some novels by Nicholson Baker, especially The Mezzanine (1988).

  63. I don’t know if this will get lost or if anybody cares, but TheDayGamers is me, or rather, was me. 5 years later and I really wish i didn’t make that comment, I have no hate towards selfies. If anything, 2014 me needs to get a life.

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