If I ever get a hold of a time machine, the first thing I’m going to do…or more like near the top of my list of “’Things To Do’(if I get a hold of a time machine)” is go back to 2007. I will find and slap that me who thought that the democratization of The Internets was going to be a great thing. Then tell 2007 Me to start a YouTube channel. It doesn’t have to be of any quality, just know that in a decade I will be able to make a living off it.
I would return to present day and make thrones of all the YouTube cash!
I didn’t start treating YouTube like an entertainment vehicle until very recently. I started in earnest back in 2014, in the wake of #gamergate, when this seemed to be one of the few outlets where you could find any real information on the topic. Sure, you could read what had floated up to the mainstream: a bunch of sad, lonely, neck bearded goony men were harassing women, or you could browse a few YouTube videos that broke down the real reasons, and perhaps a little guiding light as to what to do next.
As it is well known, #gamergate became a punch line and shorthand in the games press, and “we” all moved on.
The YouTubers I started following changed course or discovered, as I had, that there was a lot more going on outside of the games realm when it came to social justice. To say nothing of how the games press was failing to do its job, it then proffered the notion that the mainstream press itself wasn’t doing anything either! Instead of investigating something like a #gamergate, the mainstream press looked to the games press and just copy/pasted their words and moved on.
With The Internets being a content machine that constantly needs to be fed, of course these YouTubers I was following weren’t going to cut it. Doubly, you can only listen to the same rhetoric of “Look at these silly SJWs” before you move on. Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop the YouTuber. No, unlike other media, internet based entertainers aren’t given the heave-ho when their numbers start lagging. Sure, there is less ad revenue, should they choose to partake, and that may lead them to find greener pastures. However, for a LOT of them, it’s a hobby or a side project. For a few, it’s a living that they procure from crowd funding, which is where the current problem is bubbling up.
There was time, not so long ago, and maybe it is still true, that not every single person gets to follow their dreams. The world couldn’t handle so many ballerinas! But now that modern society has allowed adolescence to extend in to the late 20’s…we’re seeing a lot of people still out there trying to hash a dream out of being a YouTube star!
In my “research” for this article, I’ve just been scrapping the bottom or YouTube and iTunes trying to find hidden nuggets and gems of entertainment. Like a lot of you, I’ve become tired of the same grip of people sitting around “ranting” or “critiquing” the content of others. The “Hot Take” culture fits certain things well: sports, news, and entertainment. However, “Hot Takes” do not work so well for video games and fellow YouTubers. I’m sure some of the internet drama that crops up on YouTube rings that lizard brain bell need for “entertainment”, but it is not nearly as compelling as a finely crafted and edited reality show. That these internets beefs can stretch on for years is amazing to behold.
However, my problem doesn’t really lie in that. It’s the dreamers that need to get a job and stop clogging YouTube with their bullshit that have my ire.
It’s times like the news of PewDiePie being “literally a Nazi” that the dark underside of YouTube rears up. That so many “content creators” suddenly felt compelled to lodge a PiewDiePie in to their video titles and deliver their staid “Hot Take” on it. Just how many of those are actually a unique take on the subject? Very few, sadly.
YouTube fosters a cult of personality complex in people that really shouldn’t be anywhere near it. People that actively proclaim to have social anxiety and other mental health issues somehow find comfort in participating in a digital striptease for the few voyeurs curious enough to click on a picture and a link. They will then try to leverage a fan base via crowd funding to further some goal that needn’t be bothered with, especially considering how little support they often wind up with.
The cult of personality eventual tickles out those who hide behind “characters”. Oftentimes, I enjoy just a static image and someone just talking over it about a topic I like. In fact, a lot YouTubers do something along those lines, then one day…they hit a threshold or come to some understanding and then *BAM* I click on a video and get to watch a fat neck beards chins flap around as they stare blankly in to a the camera and do their thing.
Some people just don’t need to be seen!
Better yet…why? Even when a homunculus shrinks themselves down in to a corner of the frame, it’s still ridiculous to watch them bloviate over a static image of their topic. In a video that runs over ten minutes! Boring!
Perhaps treating YouTube like an educational entertainment channel isn’t the best mind set, but more often than not, I’ve found myself pining for the days of yore when we had a few gatekeepers that we trusted and nothing more. Sure, you had that one guy that would be your go-to for whatever they specialized in. For example, I’m the “movie guy” at work and amongst friends. But now every single one of those guys has this compulsion to plaster their nasty asses in front of green screen and jiggle over whether a piece of pop culture is shit or not.
They don’t even have to be subjectively “good” at their “jobs” either! At least in ye olden days there was some level of expertise and knowledge within a critical circle. Thanks to the democratization of The Internets, some fan boy carries just as much “intellectual” heft, and he doesn’t even know what he’s talking about outside whether a movie gave him a chubby or not. Every single bit of his output is a mile wide and an inch deep in terms of critical analysis.
In fact, a lot of depth and nuance is being lost to YouTubers and The Internets collective hyper-attention deficit. This goes further with the thumbs “up” and “down” system of I suppose letting the content producer know how a particular video is doing? YouTube doesn’t seem to care one way or the other, as they can sells ads on every single bit of content on its service, which in turn facilitates people who should have no business doing so making content for “entertainment”.
To be fair, this “entertainment” isn’t being foisted on to me. I am punishing myself by scraping this said barrel and trying to discover the secret sauce as to why someone would go through the hassle of trying to hack it at the business of being a marginal YouTube celebrity. Maybe that’s it, those vaunted fifteen minutes of fame, but on somewhat your “own terms” of not leaving your house.
Perhaps the day will come when equilibrium of sorts will take hold and the vaunted gatekeepers of yore will reappear much like the four horseman of the apocalypse and lay waste to these less than charlatans that disguise themselves as critics. I’m highly doubtful, but doesn’t something have to give a some point?