Long before Simu Liu brought kung fu to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ryan Higa taught the entire internet “How to be Ninja” from his own living room back in 2008.
In a new TikTok trend, users are paying homage to the Asian American YouTubers who once dominated the video sharing platform at a time when Asian representation was even more seldom seen in mainstream media than it is now.
“The YouTubers who raised us” is what many TikTok users are calling these OG creators in their posts over the trending song “Nice Guys”. YouTubers Ryan Higa, Chester See and Kevin Wu, known for their comedic sketches from the late 2000s and early 2010s, released the song together in 2011 as a parody video.
High schooler and YouTube vlogger Skunky posted a video to TikTok last week sharing that Ryan Higa was the very first YouTuber he watched as a child and inspired him to eventually start his own journey on YouTube.
Another YouTuber, DavidParody, has also made a TikTok video under the same audio track, captioned, “One of the best parts about being a YouTuber is getting to meet the people you watched and collaborating with them.” A photo montage ensues, showing him posed alongside several well-known Asian American YouTubers, including Tim Chantarangsu (formerly known as Tim DeLaGhetto of MTV’s “WildNOut”), JustKiddingNews, Guava Juice and Philip Wang of Wongfu Productions.
Other videos created by everyday TikTok users using the nostalgic song show how much of an impact these early creators had on the greater Asian American community.
“There are two types of Asian guys, one was raised by Ryan Higa and the other was raised by Tim DeLaGhetto,” one user writes in his video. Another claims that Ryan Higa “walked so Keshi could run,” in reference to the way both have helped shape a generation of Asian men at one point or another. Viewers of each of these videos have flocked to the comments to chime in with more iconic YouTubers who pioneered other segments of the platform, such as beauty content creators Michelle Phan and Bubzbeauty.
Variations of the trend expressing the same sentiment appear to resurface every now and then after another TikTok video of the OG creators goes viral, triggering fond memories for many Asian Americans of what representation meant to them while growing up.