The Sensational Pink Spidergirl: How a Hero You Never Heard of Became One of YouTube’s Biggest Stars
Until last week, I had never heard of Pink Spidergirl. You probably haven't heard about her either. She's not starring in any comics, animated shows or movies. She's not even actually part of Marvel's Spider-Verse, which is a vast and seemingly never-ending source of strange Spider-Man iterations.
No, Pink Spidergirl is one of the biggest heroes on YouTube. In fact, she's so popular, there are a number of different channels that use the character, and more than a million videos starring the Pink Spidergirl across YouTube's endless array of ridiculous videos. The videos are strange, fascinating, and incorporate a bewildering amount of licensed characters to tell stories that often make no sense. So how exactly did Pink Spidergirl become such a sensation?
First, you have to look up Pink Spider girl videos on YouTube so you have a frame of reference. Don't forget to come back though. Once you fall down the weird, wild hole of YouTube superhero videos, you might forget to come back up for air. I know that's exactly what happened to me this past weekend after stumbling upon the trend. Seriously; it was hard for me to stop watching these videos, even though some were 30-40 minutes long.
The adventures of Pink Spidergirl and her amazing(-ly not copyright-infringing) friends are just that hypnotizing. I mean, how can videos like "Pink Spidergirl vs T-Rex Easter Eggs Frozen Elsa & Anna vs Joker Superhero in Real Life Kids Movie" or "Is Frozen Elsa Kissing Captain America? w/ Spiderman Pink Spidergirl Disney Princess Rapunzel Ariel" not entice you into watching versus paying attention to literally anything else happening in the real world?
Ordinarily in my YouTube travels, I would never have seen videos like this crop up anywhere in my suggested feeds. These Pink Spidergirl vids are clearly targeted squarely at children, and since I don't have or interact with kids on a regular basis, I've been missing out on one of the universe's great creations. It wasn't until I read the Kotaku article on Grand Theft Auto V videos being used as kids' programming (Spider-Man and Lightning McQueen are best bros in this alternate universe) that Pink Spidergirl became a blip on my radar. Now any time I look at a video on YouTube, I see the familiar bright yellow thumbnails that are a signature of the Pink Spidergirl brand calling to me out of the corner of my eye.
Unfortunately for you, after clicking on any of those videos above, the same fate will befall your YouTube pages... at least for the short term. Sorry not sorry.
Now you may be thinking to yourself, "Yeah, but so what? There are thousands of videos with people pretending to be heroes on the YouTube already." And to that point, I agree. There are a lot of superhero videos on network that make use of actual characters, however shoddy the costuming may be. Pink Spidergirl is a wholly original creation on YouTube that's grown from nothing into a star that shines as bright as Frozen's Elsa or even actual Spiderman's own (obviously not the real Spider-Man, but the guy who dropped the hyphen to make searching for him online easier).
Pink Spidergirl hasn't even existed for a full year yet, but the copious amount of videos starring her in some way, shape or form don't really reflect that newness. In fact, that newness is partially why she's become such a phenomenon. Near as I can tell, Pink Spidergirl first appeared on Dec. 22, 2015, on the Heroes IRL channel. The video "Spiderman vs Pink Spidergirl in Real Life! Pie Face Superhero Having Fun Movie!" wasn't the first from the Canadian channel to have superheroes in it, but it is the first instance I can find where Spidergirl reared her head. What honor was she bestowed with in her debut? Baking cookies and playing a game of Pie Face, the innocuous Russian roulette of whipped cream, with Spiderman.
Just after the new year began, Pink Spidergirl appeared again on Heroes IRL to help Spiderman fight the Joker in "Spiderman vs Pink Spidergirl vs Joker in Real Life! Spidergirl Hypnotized! Superhero Movie." The following March, Pink Spidergirl was showing up everywhere, and not just on Heroes IRL's videos. Perhaps due to the fact that the Pie Face video had racked up approximately 29 million views in just three months. It currently has 42.2 million views. In case you were wondering, the Wonder Woman Comic-Con trailer has just 26.3 million views, the original Frozen movie teaser has 37.3 million, and even Deadpool's red band trailer has just 41.7 million views. And Heroes IRL's Pink Spidergirl video isn't even the most popular one; it's likely just the first (YouTube's search engine had a lot of trouble defining the history of the million-plus Pink Spidergirl videos).
Now whether or not Pink Spidergirl being used across a variety of channels bothers its creators is irrelevant as they don't particularly have any claim to the character anyway. I mean, let's be real here; YouTube's copyright enforcement has been questionable to say the least, and that so many channels are profiting off the use of licensed characters with little issue seems inconsistent with how the rules are applied in other areas of the network. But that also prevents anyone from truly staking claim to Pink Spidergirl, meaning anyone with that costume can just go ahead and do whatever they want with her in a video with no visible repercussion.
Hell, you don't even need the actual costume if you've got some pink Play-Doh lying around. The channel Toys and Funny Kids Surprise Eggs, which does actual toy videos alongside its superhero content, has live-action and stop-motion videos featuring all your favorites like the Heath Ledger Joker, Doc McStuffins, Spiderman, Pink Spidergirl, Spiderbaby and more doing things like going to the beach and playing Pokemon Go. Also pooping out poop emojis because that's just a thing now apparently?
Even disregarding the toilet humor, these Play-Doh stop-motion videos are incredible. It's almost a shame to see these talents wasted in an unappreciated pocket of YouTube, but they also pull in millions of views so who am I to argue? These creations have actual jokes and plots that stretch beyond what many of the live-action competition provides, too. Seriously, there are only so many times you can see Pink Spidergirl and Elsa get tricked by the Joker and they're then somehow able to turn the tides on him before it grows stale. At least as an adult. Kids are just gobbling these videos up --- but I'm getting ahead of myself. The Play-Doh videos are cute and clever, and show some tremendous skill. They've even proven so popular on their own that an entire sub-genre of Pink Spidergirl/superhero stop-motion videos has been born from their success.
Again though, this is one of those areas of the internet that's still a bit like the Wild West. Anyone can do anything anyone else is already doing and reap the benefits of views, clicks and monetary compensation from ad revenue since no single channel can lay claim to having created said content. But you better believe the same Pink Spidergirl costume, the same over-sized Joker mask, the same Elsa wig and dress, the same royalty-free music and sound effects (and so on), will appear in all of them. That's just how this corner of YouTube has found a way to thrive, and with hundreds of millions of views between them all, what reason would any single maker in this area have to alter the path set by someone else?
You can see this pattern of copycat behavior all the way down to the thumbnails for the videos themselves. They almost all have a bright yellow background, and similar topics from different channels use imagery that could easily be swapped around with little effort to deliver the same content. There are so many thumbnails of Spiderman, Pink Spidergirl and more with needles aimed at their butts, or of Spidergirl with a baby floating nearby (still attached by umbilical cord), you might think you're just seeing repeats. Having watched far too many of them, I can assure you they are all different videos even though they're all focused on the same topics.
I've reached out to a number of these channels (the ones that have contact emails at least) to find out how and why they've honed in on Pink Spidergirl since she's not a known quantity. I get making the videos starring Elsa or Spiderman, or literally any other character that has a proven track record. To this point, none have offered any insight. Perhaps they don't actually need to though. Pink Spidergirl's popularity might be nothing more than a fluke that every one of these channels capitalized on thanks to their commitment to kids' programming.
As pointed out in the video above from VanDeGraph, kids' videos earn some absurd views on YouTube. If you watched any of the Pink Spidergirl videos, you may have noticed the comment sections were often filled with the very same gibberish text described above, and that most coherent comments came from channels with Pink Spidergirl videos of their own. I can't say for certain how accurate the claims are of random tapping on the screen leading to more views on these kinds of videos, but that all the thumbnails feature the characters kids love and watch with bright colors, I believe they're enticed to click on them. Even though VanDeGraph is talking about toy videos for the most part here, you can see all the boxes being ticked for Pink Spidergirl and her friends.
Reusing the same characters and content, along with similar thumbnails and search-friendly titles, helped game YouTube's algorithm. That's helped to catapult not just Pink Spidergirl, but all of these videos into the stratosphere. Unless you're sharing a YouTube account or smart device with a child, it's likely you've never seen these characters crop up in your suggested videos because the algorithm defining your choices has spun different selections. It certainly would explain how a character nobody can truly claim to have created became a hallmark of YouTube's superhero landscape.
These ideas diminish Pink Spidergirl's starpower a bit in an adult's eyes, but the kids watching her adventures today certainly won't care that the legion of content creators "homaging" one another's works are gaming the system. Curiously, Pink Spidergirl doesn't exist anywhere outside of YouTube. Other characters in these videos exist in various media, and can be found in the real world when these children grow up. Despite her popularity in the digital realm, her fans won't have anything to look towards when they move beyond their current means. When they're old enough, will these kids look back at Pink Spidergirl the way we look back at early internet pop culture now? Maybe it doesn't matter since some of her individual videos have already wracked up as many views as a Taylor Swift single.
Whatever happens to Pink Spidergirl in the future, her success now is still a fascinating anomaly.