GoRemy Youtube celebrity Remy Munasifi: “I love the autonomy of YouTube and how closely connected you are to everyone watching”
“I love the autonomy of YouTube and how closely connected you are to everyone watching. I don’t anticipate ever wanting to leave.” Remy Munasifi, creator of the popular GoRemy YouTube channel, has been making videos roughly since YouTube came into existence.
He says it is this sense of connection that is most relevant to his work. “The most positive I think is hearing from parents who say they watch the videos with their kids, or emails from kids saying they watch the videos with their whole family. What could be more flattering than that? It makes you feel blessed but also motivated.”
Munasifi’s videos deal primarily with Arab issues and cultural tropes. Typically, he’ll take a top 40 pop song and parody it with lyrics and a video that play on the stereotyping of Arab people. All of this began in the mid-2000’s, a time when anti-Arab sentiment in the U.S. was at as a high a premium as it is today.
Munasifi’s comedy was a welcome relief to many Arab-Americans, especially of the younger generation, who wanted a chance to celebrate their culture and their lives with humor. “Well you can’t help but notice how many Arabs portrayed in television and movies are terrorists, antagonists, or one-dimensional sheiks.” Said Munasifi. “I don’t think there is a single best way to fight those stereotypes. Personally, I enjoy stereotyping the stereotypes. Magnify any one of those stereotypes and you highlight how silly it is.”
While constantly engaged in satirizing the ridiculous, Munasifi says he still feels connected to his heritage in a serious way: “I do. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a recurring theme in future videos. I always try to be myself and those are my roots. Actually, my most recent video is about baklava and the only reason I started writing it was because I had just gotten my hands on some ridiculously good baklava from Bohsali in Beirut and I was feeling really excited about it.”
For Remy it seems that comedy is not a shield or smokescreen but a legitimate tool, a prop for ideas and ideology. Recently he has begun to make more politically-motivated material for a channel called ReasonTV, and his own videos have frequently crossed the line into the political sphere.
However he has resisted being bogged down as purely political or purely about Arabs or anything remotely single-minded. His material has spanned everything from McDonald’s to Hummus to Taxation and this is how he seems to be most in command of his work, when it’s varied and honest.
When faced with the idea of the future, Munasifi kept it light and simple, “Honestly, I just hope to keep making videos people enjoy. I’ll keep doing that for as long as everyone wants. It has truly been a blessing, and not just because of all the baklava.”
Adrian Tafesh, Arab America Contributing Writer