“The most famous people you have never heard of”.
That seems to be the go to sentence for journalists of traditional media to introduce bloggers or YouTubers. And boy, have they been using it. YouTubers seem to be everywhere recently. They are featured in magazines, have their face on billboards, appear on television and publish bestselling books.
The Sunday Times magazine seemed rather reluctant in recognising the success of these internet people, calling vlogging “narcissistic, vain and superficial” and stating that watching their videos is “soul-drainingly boring”. But however inane The Sunday Times may think their products are, they must be doing something right. After all beauty vlogger Zoella does have 6 million subscribers on YouTube, an audience that most TV shows can only dream of.
YouTubers don’t really sing act or dance, so these journalists seem to have a hard time understanding the reason for their fame, but then again what is Kim Kardashian famous for again? Sometimes a captivating personality appears to be enough.
I personally love watching a bit of YouTube every now and then. I watch YouTube for beauty, book and fashion tips. Or sometimes I just want to watch a haul, because I currently don’t have the budget for a shopping spree and want to spend vicariously through others. Watching daily vlogs or videos of people’s everyday life is my reality TV. Except there are a lot less adverts to be watched.
There is one thing that does bug me about these famous YouTubers. They’re just so vanilla. Like vanilla ice cream they are inoffensive and universally likeable. They don’t really seem to have many opinions on things other than their niche, be it makeup or gaming, don’t get drunk (definitely don’t smoke) and don’t swear. Instead they faux swear. Freaking for fucking, oh my gosh for oh my god and shizz for shit.
Of course there is nothing wrong with being a goody two shoes, but you’d think the internet is the place to say exactly what you want to say. I’m sure there are many people posting videos on YouTube doing their thing with the medium, but the YouTubers with the biggest audience generally seem to be of the bubbly Disney-esque type. There are exceptions of course, Jenna Marbles for example has more than 14 million watching her videos and she has no problem saying what she thinks. Every rule has it’s exception.
YouTubers are a marketers dream. The have an enormous fan base that consists mostly of teenagers who trust their favourite YouTube star. The people that aren’t interested in television or newspapers. Want to sell a new mascara? Letting a YouTuber tell their viewers that they’re obsessed with it is probably the most effective strategy. Modern day product placement.
It does make me wonder, is this the reason these YouTubers are so perfectly polished? So they don’t offend their advertisers? Because the teenage audience that would be most shocked by a little controversy is the most valuable audience to sell to companies?
There’s nothing wrong with vanilla, I love a bit of vanilla, but I’d like to see some other flavours amongst popular YouTube content. People who aren’t afraid of showing their whole selves, occasional swearing included. YouTubers who can make pretty lifestyle videos but can also articulate an opinion on current events. Who can tell their advertisers to shove it if they’re not happy with that image. I actually don’t think we’d like these YouTubers any less if they weren’t the perfect role model. On the contrary.
Maybe I’m just watching the wrong channels. If so, please tell me where to find the right ones.