Given the time I could probably write a whole essay on this topic but thankfully my essay writing days are well and truly behind me. What I want to talk about today is a topic that there has been a lot of buzz about online recently and it's that of YouTube fan culture and the changes that are happening between creators and viewers as their popularity increases. What started off for most big-name YouTubers as talking to a camera in their bedroom and hoping a couple of people online would like it has now turned in to a world where thousands tune in to their videos every day and consider them the next generation of celebrity.
After attending YouTube conventions PlaylistLive and Itatube earlier this year, Louise of SprinkleofGlitter uploaded a video directly addressing this notion of YouTube fan culture from her point of view and her reaction to being unintentionally idolised by thousands. What she reminds viewers is that YouTubers, and bloggers in general for that matter, only show a small snapshot of their lives and though it may seem like their lives are perfect, chances are they aren't. She also talks about how overwhelming the before mentioned YouTuber conventions can be and the strange feeling of security and barriers being put in place to physically distance the YouTubers from their viewers, something that only people who actually consider themselves celebrities would come to expect.
I'm not 100% sure who got the ball rolling first but the discussion seems to have snowballed online with the likes of Charlie McDonnell and Carrie Fletcher (yes sister of McFly's Tom), as well as a host of others getting involved to talk about the subject. After all, who better to try and get us to grips with what's going on than those that have directly experienced the changes in YouTube culture.
Big name YouTubers like Zoella are so popular online that they can meet excitable screaming fans in the street, and whilst I'm not suggesting that young girls shouldn't be excited, it probably only puts YouTuber's off trying to interact with their fans let alone take part in impromptu meet-ups or gatherings like they were once able to. With her anxiety struggles as well it's no wonder Zoe avoids going to busy places alone.
When the likes of Zoella, Joe Sugg and Alfie Deyes went to see One Direction they were moved by security to different seats because as one of the guards said they 'wouldn't be able to control them'. 'Them' being the fans that had recognised them in the crowd and started screaming, looking pretty close to tears. Whilst this is clearly only relevant to a small percentage of subscribers this reaction does naturally place a bigger divide between the YouTubers and their fans and increases their chances of being considered celebrities.
The fact of the matter is these 'YouTube stars' never dreamed that through uploading videos of them chatting in their bedrooms they would be able to make a living let alone be considered a new generation of celebrity. They are just normal people, and that's why their subscribers enjoying watching them, but the more popular they become the closer to celebrities they become. They will no doubt get judged if they do show signs of living more like celebrities however and less like 'normal' people. A vicious circle.
Truth is that no one, least of all the YouTubers, wants things to feel like an 'us' and 'them' situation between themselves and their viewers, but with their popularity rising how can this be avoided? I'm not entirely sure it can. I think it's just important that viewers remember that even though they may seem like celebrities because you see them online every day, they are still normal people, with flaws, but just have a few more followers.
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