Why ‘Cobra Kai’ makes a YouTube subscription worth it
If you have an internet connection, you’ll be well aware that Cobra Kai has brought The Karate Kid universe back in a dramedy series and is currently streaming on YouTube Red. It can’t be overstated how much of an impact the original film had on kids of a certain age. Actually you could easily overstate it, but let’s just say the mid-80s was a sweetass time to own a dojo. Senseis all over the world were makin’ it rain!
Cobra Kai re-enters the universe through the now down-and-out Johnny Lawrence. Johnny is that asshole bully from the original film, played once again by William Zabka. Was he so bad, though? (No.) Cobra Kai shows him in a light that brings to mind the perspective presented in J. Matthew Turner’s viral YouTube video The Karate Kid: Daniel is the REAL Bully. Turner’s hilarious and surprisingly cogent defence of Johnny as the original film’s true hero popped up on the Facebook feeds of millions of 80s kids a few years ago.
Conversely, the video’s presentation of Daniel is one of a nasty little turd who must be stopped at all costs. Of course, this is all exaggerated for shits and giggles, but the video makes some undeniable points that are summarized by Johnny Lawrence himself in a single scene in episode eight of Cobra Kai. Daniel sucker punched him and drenched him with a hose months after their beef was seemingly put to bed. He started it, basically.
Whether or not the creators of Cobra Kai were directly influenced by Turner’s video, they’re mining a similar angle. Turner’s video went viral because it was funny to examine something very familiar from a different perspective. We began to understand Johnny and realize that Daniel-san might have been a bit of a dick sometimes.
Cobra Kai gets much of its juice from this same shift away from Daniel’s point of view to something more balanced. The past can be unpredictable. Speaking of unpredictable, who would have thought that The Karate Kid could be the thing that encourages you to pay for YouTube? Everything changes.