When it comes to celebrity culture in 2017, it’s a very exclusive concept. Celebrities are so far separated from the average person that they seem like gods or two dimensional objects that are simply there for our amusement. It’s odd and somewhat terrifying to imagine that these people, with gorgeous, symmetrical faces that grace the magazines at the checkout of the grocery store, are living, breathing humans with emotions just like ours. This was made incredibly clear when Jimmy Kimmel brought in “ordinary people” to meet the celebrities during the 2017 Oscars. It was a moment that was not at all necessary and just made that distinction between celebrity and human so much more defined. This is when the big question comes in: Is it okay for us to build up celebrities like gods?
The answer to this question is undefined, and happens to be where YouTube comes in. As a platform, it’s very effective. Virtually anybody can upload videos that, with the right amount of exposure, can reach a lot of people. Personally, I think YouTube is a necessary and highly useful platform for everything from learning about mitosis to feminism to two people screaming at a video game. Each of these videos racks up hundreds upon thousands of views, and their influence is known throughout the world, whether we acknowledge it or not.
The answer to this question is undefined, and happens to be where YouTube comes in. As a platform, it’s very effective. Virtually anybody can upload videos that, with the right amount of exposure, can reach a lot of people.
YouTubers are sort of like the “middle man” between celebrity and human. See, celebrities are so far distanced from the average person that their lives aren’t personal to us. We see Instagram pictures that are heavily edited and posed, but there are very few celebrities that we get to see personally. This is precisely the reason that the Kardashians have cultivated this massive following. Keeping Up With the Kardashians differentiates itself from other reality shows by being able to portray this grandiose and extravagant family in an oddly relatable manner. Their show softens their Instagram or Twitter personas and makes them more real to us, which, in turn, causes us to like them more.
YouTubers are a bit like the Kardashians, except their marketing is less designer bags and marble slabs. They market themselves as being real, which, perhaps, makes them all the more appealing. I would describe them as a mixture of celebrity and average person, which makes them so appealing to all of us.
Because we see so much and hear so much from a certain YouTuber’s point of view, we find ourselves listening to them as though they’re close friends instead of these random people online. And, honestly, I respect it. I have so many problems with YouTube, but one of the best things about the platform is the advice and point of view that these people provide. They can be so influential in our lives. For example, can you imagine how many people have come out as to their friends and family because they heard encouraging words online? Or, the amount of people who have taken a risk in their career to do something they love instead of doing something they were forced to do?
Another thing I’ve noticed about YouTube is the idea that success is so different to each person. For some creators, they seem dead set on gaining new subscribers, no matter who they are or where they are from. For others, they are looking for a particular set of subscribers from a certain place or those who have a certain characteristic. For another, YouTube is the stepping stone to another career, like singers. They do YouTube to build up a base, but making videos may not be their final goal.
As I said earlier, I do have my problems with the platform. As big YouTubers have slowly transitioned themselves to mainstream celebrities, will we start building them up like gods? Or, will they always be treated like online stars? Only time can tell.