Whether it wants to be or not, YouTube is a guardian of internet history, with countless classic videos sitting in its archives. That makes it jarring when the company acts like what it is: a multinational corporation with no real understanding of this value. Case in point, this week YouTube removed the original upload of the “Ah fuck, I can’t believe you’ve done this” meme, rejecting an appeal from its creator (and the guy who can’t believe this was done) and claiming that the clip violates the company’s “violent or graphic content policy.”
In the words of Paul Weedon himself, star of and uploader of the original video: Ah, fuck.
Weedon tweeted out the news of the takedown and his unsuccessful appeal, noting that the video had been on YouTube for 14 years, and racked up 12 million views in that time with “no issues whatsoever.” The clip itself is a classic: low-res, contextless, and instantly funny. And, of course, countless re-uploads of the clip still exist (alongside the other, legitimately horrible content that YouTube is happy to leave up).
The video has been remixed and re-memed in countless ways since it first went viral in the mid-2010s, and Weedon himself has an interesting relationship with the content. In an article for Vice published earlier this year, he describes how the clip came out of he and his friends filming each other doing “stunts” in the vein of Jackass, and how he sold the original rights for the clip to the now-defunct Break.com and isn’t sure who even owns the IP now.
“At the time, going viral wasn’t really comparable to any other experience and it certainly wasn’t something I could discuss in solidarity with my friends,” writes Weedon. “All of a sudden you’re everywhere and it’s out of your control. You either try to fight it and get destroyed, or embrace it and try to cash in. After yanking down several other videos on my YouTube channel, I opted for the latter.”
To add insult to injury, Weedon is currently in the process of making a documentary about the meme, so this takedown at least adds a little twist to the proceedings. We’ve contacted both Weedon and YouTube about the news, and hope the company sees sense and restores the original.