Marie, a slender woman wearing white lingerie and glitter-encrusted nails, gets into her bath with a bottle of Moët and calls for her servant Antoine. When the door opens, it’s not Antoine, but another woman in a lab coat and a purple wig. “The Doctor,” as the visitor is known, has come to force Marie to watch an educational video about climate change. The pair argue, insult one another, and eventually encounter a personification of the sea, who’s played as a raunchy cross between Ursula from The Little Mermaid and the child-devouring Cronus of Greek myth.
This is, essentially, the plot of “The Apocalypse,” the latest video from ContraPoints. Created and hosted by Natalie Wynn, the political YouTube channel began as a cult hit and now boasts nearly 400,000 subscribers, having recently garnered attention from mainstream outlets such as The New Yorker and The Economist, and from the podcast Chapo Trap House. The videos are impressively produced: Wynn uses lush sets, moody lighting, and original music by the composer Zoë Blade to forge a distinctive aesthetic that can be described as a kind of high-concept burlesque, drenched in neon. The most spectacular attraction, though, is Wynn herself. While her primary persona is the eponymous Contra, she also plays a cast of visually and ideologically distinct characters. Viewers might see Wynn as a supercilious women’s studies professor insulting Wynn as a transgender cat-girl. Or a submissive Wynn explaining the political theory of hypothetical consent while being whipped by a dominant Wynn. Or a fascist Wynn dog-whistling to an online audience while winning a debate against an academic-historian Wynn on a libertarian talk show—hosted by Wynn. The videos are consistently smart, surreal, and fun to watch.