YouTuber by Zeke Jarvis

And then there was that YouTuber who was supposed to be both a YouTuber and, like, this international criminal mastermind. You know, how their videos were, on the surface, just goofball antics, but the antics were actually filled with coded messages. And not just to one specific gang or set of criminals. Supposedly, the puppet segments were directed to the Yakuza, the “daily sunshine” segments were to the Russian mob, and the songs at the end were to the Latin Kings, and so on. So in the YouTuber’s half-hourish clips they would give all the crime for the week, in code. It seems like they’d have to be pretty big picture ones. Maybe turf wars or the amount of drugs being sold that week. Maybe major murders. The specific details have never been clear to me.

But the weird thing is that this YouTuber had tons and tons of subscribers. And, like, a lot of them seemed to be kids, judging by the comments. So it’s not like the YouTuber was only making money off of the crime stuff. For all we know, these cornball weekly clips were actually making more money from sponsors and stuff than from the criminal messages. It makes you wonder: did they start thinking more about the kids than the crime? You’d think that whatever was making you all the money is what you’d focus on. So maybe there were gangsters and hitmen and drug dealers all over the globe that had to sit through a few extra minutes of actual kids entertainment before they could get their marching orders for the week. Did they think that was funny, or would they be pissed? Could you strike fear into the hearts of gangsters while playing a ukelele?

The even weirder thing is that, if this is all true, then it seems like any YouTuber could have codes in their videos. Maybe every dingbat playing Minecraft is helping to smuggle heroin into the country. Or maybe the makeup tips that you’re getting on TikTok are telling Russian spies who to poison. Who knows what else is going on beneath the surface of those videos. But maybe if having a lot of kid subscribers makes the YouTubers focus on the entertainment, then maybe letting your kids watch these secret criminals is like, rehabilitating them into actual kids entertainers. Isn’t that great?

Zeke Jarvis is a Professor of English at Eureka College. His work has appeared in Moon City Review, Posit, and KNOCK, among other places. His books include, So Anyway…, In A Family Way, The Three of Them, and Antisocial Norms. His website is