Not You, Not Me, But WE.
Pop quiz! Do you watch YouTubers?
- All the time
- All of the above
It’s quite difficult to find someone who doesn’t watch YouTube videos these days, especially in 2015, a year filled with electronics usage. I mean, who hasn’t heard of Pewdiepie, Smosh, or Ryan Higa? Launched in 2005, YouTube has now become an entertainment base where viewers can watch their favorite videos, as well as YouTubers. More than one billion users, all with various tastes in videos from beauty to politics, are now the celebrities of our generation.
You may think YouTubers simply create videos and upload them on the website. That speculation, is actually true. According to YouTube’s own statistics, 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Viewers then watch those videos, producing billions of views each day. It’s really not an exaggeration when we say that teenagers of our time is more influenced by YouTubers rather than Hollywood celebrities, which is backed up by a survey done by Jeetendr Sehdev, a celebrity brand strategist of Variety. The survey asked teenagers living in the United Stages, ages thirteen to eighteen, to score ten Hollywood stars and ten YouTube stars with the most subscribers in terms of their intelligence and reliability. The results showed an outstanding victory of YouTubers, who scored higher than Hollywood actors and actresses. It seems as though teenagers think of YouTubers as more relatable, because afterall, they’re normal human beings like us talking to a camera.
However, YouTube stars are no longer staying on their designated platform. Many of them are stepping up their games, doing things other than filming a simple video and uploading them on the website. Take Wong Fu Productions, for example. The trio, consisting of Wesley Chan, Ted Fu, and Philip Wang, used to release short films they filmed on to their YouTube channel, currently, with over two million subscribers. However, they have now taken a break from uploading skits because they are now in the midst of producing their first feature film, focusing on two couples and their relationships. Wong Fu Productions received $358,308 USD as funding, donated by their fans, for their very first movie. With the excitement and generosities of their fans, Wong Fu Productions are getting maximum support for the success of their project.
Speaking of generous fans, Tyler Oakley is also a YouTuber, now with 6.6 million subscribers, who started out as a freshman at Michigan State University uploading while at school. Although he does upload videos on YouTube, it’s hard to call him just a YouTuber. He has also broadened his horizons, mainly towards the LGBTQ community. As an openly gay person, Tyler Oakley fully supports The Trevor Project, which is an organization that helps prevents suicide in the LGBTQ community. He has co-hosted TrevorLIVE as a reporter on the charity’s red carpet event, and also appeared as an interview on the Kids Choice Awards, allowing him to speak to many celebrities. As a keen supporter, he has also raised a total of one million dollars for the Trevor Project over the course of three years, including this year. This has also been thanks to not only his continuous support but also his extremely large fan base. Tyler Oakley, who began as a college student who filmed himself in his dorm room, has now become an internet sensation, who continues to step forward.
Television appearances of YouTubers is no longer rare, because the demand for them is so high. The show, Dancing with the Stars also featured a YouTuber, Bethany Mota. Bethany Mota began uploading videos in 2009, which consisted of mainly fashion, makeup, and hair tutorials. She has, also, acquired a huge fan base, consisting of 8.4 million subscribers, as of March 2015. Over the course of five years, she has climbed up so high, she was named one of “The 25 Most Influential Teens of 2014” by Time Magazine. It’s quite expected, for she has not only appeared on Dancing with the Stars, but also launched her own clothing line at Aéropostale, appeared on Project Runway as a guest judge, and even released her first single, “Need You Right Now”. Again, she owes all of her success to her viewers, her fans. She has, and will continue on expanding her circle of influence.
YouTubers, considered more relatable than Hollywood celebrities, are now celebrities themselves. It’s great that those who we support are becoming more noticed. However, not all fans are satisfied by the effects that this phenomenon brings. As Emily Kim (‘17), a sophomore who often watches YouTube says,
“I feel like YouTube is becoming TV because YouTubers because they’re gaining more fans so they’re becoming the celebrities themselves…YouTube has advanced too far, and it doesn’t feel like old school YouTube at all. It’s like a new form of media. Like come on, Tyler Oakley? He’s a total celebrity now. They just act like normal people like us. To be honest, this isn’t good”.
YouTubers are now publishing their books, opening up their fashion line, and hosting their own TV shows. Everybody is increasing fields where they can succeed and be active in. Of course, YouTubers who have not yet had their “debut” or are still considered minor are still fully dependent on YouTube for their career to grow.
Those up and coming YouTubers such as Will Darbyshire and Connor Manning are simply not yet given the chance to diversify their perspectives. Whereas mainstream YouTubers are noticed by large companies, and offered numerous opportunities to expand their horizon. However, they do not earn or gain this only on their own. They always have their fan base supporting them in starting something new.
As Ara Cho (‘15), a huge fan of YouTube besties AmazingPhil and Danisnotonfire, describes,
“WHERE DO I START I’VE BEEN WATCHING THEM SINCE 2010 AND IT GIVES ME SO MANY FEELS TO WATCH THEM GROW BY THE DAY UGH I CAN’T”.
Dan and Phil are also one of the many YouTubers who took their career to a next level, for they recently announced their very own book is soon to be published. It is, of course, an honor for fans to see their favorite YouTube personas doing something they love, and fans fully support them. However, it is also inevitable for them to keep a distance from the platform they started on, because they are becoming more busy. The whole reason as to why teenagers prefer YouTubers over celebrities, the feeling of them being more “close”, is starting to get lost. The most important thing is for YouTubers to continue on appreciating their channel as well as their subscribers, for their fans are the main force supporting them.
– Leona Maruyama (’17)
Captions: Faith Choi (’16)