YouTubers generation: from web videos to celebrity
In 2005, when YouTube was launched, the premise was that people could upload and share their videos so others can view them for their pleasure. The same idea is still there but while some just enjoy the music videos and the occasional baby animal doing something hilarious, many immerse into the lives of the individuals who are putting their identities to the World Wide Web. From comedians to beauty gurus, from cooking to singing, from nerds to published authors – YouTube has became a generation that is creating a new kind of celebrities called YouTubers.
There are two sides to this story, first is of those in front of the camera, sharing their interests and generously offering to entertain us. They are, or at this point it is better to say they were, just regular people who had an interest towards a certain element of life. For instance, being very into beauty and make-up, Dulce Candy, after finishing her military career, started off with low quality tutorial videos and now her channel has close to 800,000 subscribers and over 160 million views. Many beauty YouTubers follow with having this type of a huge fan base including Pixiwoo, FleurDeForce, MissGlamorazzi, CheckInTheMirror and MacBarbie07, a teenager who in 3 years has gotten over a million subscribers. Their channels are promoting a certain life style, which is strongly related to fashion and make-up but also giving personal advice in addition of sharing their everyday lives on their Vlog channels. Vlogging being video-blogging from getting a Starbucks coffee to choosing a perfect candle for the living room, basically showing the everyday life from a candid point of view that next to Honey Boo Boo seems refreshing.
While the previously described spectrum has vast opportunities to gain sponsors and merchandise, the comedy side of YouTube more or less lives on “thumbs ups” and the number of views. The list of comedy-tubers is endless, from Kingsley, who in two years has managed to get 1.5 million subscribers (just a little over the entire population of my home country Estonia), to Tyler Oakley, who gives advice how to stalk One Direction. But also from Daily Grace, who every week teaches new things to do and sometimes comments on One Direction’s haircuts, to a British guy DanIsNotOnFire, who is so likable that he has a fan base of girls (and boys) from 12 to over 20. And then there is Jenna Marbles, probably the funniest woman on YouTube, who has crossed 5 million subscribers with just 120 videos. Though these YouTubers are not commercializing their lifestyles, the ability to entertain is helping them to lean towards a new career path, may it be in television or on radio. Even if not, YouTube itself has started to create channels that have diverse material that is equivalent to TV-shows, like My Damn Channel to the beauty related ones similar to DailyMixTV.
Keeping in mind that the YouTubers have not only taken over the video site but they are putting themselves out there with Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook, they are creating an identity of an everyday life boy-girl next door with whom the fans need to keep up with. This is the other side of the generation, the ones who are watching the lives of the previously mentioned and more or less making those YouTubers into a new type of celebrities. It is becoming evident that YouTube community is slowly emerging and creating this generation of new type of famous people that feel much more realistic that Hollywood and they celebrate their success with an annual event called VidCon. The first VidCon was held in 2010, started by Hank and John Green from the VlogBrothers, the event is about an entire conference for people who post videos online! In just three years, VidCon has gone from 1,400 attendants to 7,000 and it is very unlikely that the growth of its popularity will decrease in the following years.
This shows, and proves at the same time, that YouTubers are becoming celebrities but all thanks to the equally growing audience which sometimes launches new YouTubers and by that setting off the never ending circle of publishing web videos. The appeal is the way this popularity of this so called generation is created: elements of regular life and the sometimes the illusions of YouTubers as role models of lifestyle are addictive. It is like a combination of a reality show but instead of watching just one, the need to keep in touch with five more is overwhelming. This combined with the factor of YouTubers being like the new obsession, the generation is growing daily by new additions of YouTubers trying to achieve the level of fame set by already so many. One of those examples of a new comer is a writer Benjamin Cook from NineBrasMonkeys who has just uploaded the first episode of Becoming YouTube, a “documentary” with various British YouTubers expressing their fictional and non-fictional opinions about YouTube.
The last example is certainly a solid proof of the YouTubers generation and the overall growing community of that type of web videos that have no limits. Those who upload and get recognition from the viewers are slowly pushed towards a certain kind of fame and an actual career based on YouTube. Those who watch them and give it thumbs up might start making their own videos: the signs are all there, the motivation and the initiative is high, besides, the outcome might not be as bad. What has so far been unmentioned, is the fact that many of the YouTubers themselves, at least the ones more known, have credited YouTube as their source of confidence and self-belief. Of course it helps if you have more than a thousand subscribers but the bottom line being, YouTube is a great platform for those who are not being heard. It takes time and it will certainly have setbacks, but there have been hundreds of examples how a single web video, from Justin Bieber to Talia Joy Castellano, 13 year cancer patient, will change lives and inspire people. From that point of view, the YouTubers generation and its community goes beyond the fame and celebrity it can be described with, and causes bigger and definitely more important impacts not just to those who upload but also for the viewers.
What do you think? Leave a comment.
I like this! Believe we are approaching a new generation in the YouTube community now that the homepage and pretty much the whole design of the site has changed into a more Facebook-like site than the previous video-yourself site.
It is a big new-cooming of marketing and socializing.. I am not very thrilled about the marketing part of it but I guess its normal.
As robert wrote, they are slowly changing how videos are being shown with subscribers seeing finding recommendations and less target on the top youtubers. Back then, the homepage was filled with the top subscribed youtubers. Completely different times right now.
I have noticed this well, YouTube really is a platform for everybody!
This changed a lot, as YouTube seems more focused in promoting more established brands now.
New to the site and just seeing this article, but I think it captures the Youtube phenomenon extremely well. Have you read the book, Youtube: Online Video and Participatory Culture? It is well worth the read and calls attention to a lot of what you discuss.
A great read.
Some recommendations for me here, hooray! I’ve been subscribed to Danisnotonfire (and AmazingPhil, can’t really have one without the other haha) and Vlogbrothers for a fairly long time, I got a Pizza John t-shirt for my birthday this year and I wear it with the utmost pride!
Another of my favourites: wheezywaiter 😀 if you haven’t checked his channel out already I recommend!
An informative and nuanced take on the Youtube generation, great article. I particularly like that you addressed Becoming Youtube, and there’s probably more to say on that, but it’s such an interesting topic that it could make a new article in itself. You covered lots of different YouTubers here and gave a good depth of topic. Nice job!
Interesting to read given the current YouTube climate in 2020.
It is a very bizarre experience to read this ten years after it was published, when YouTube has changed so much and when so many new platforms have emerged and changed the game.