‘Fame’. A term inextricably linked with YouTube and their high profile creators. And yet, take these digital media icons away from their stomping grounds and suddenly a big question mark is raised about whether these individuals are truly ‘famous’.
This puzzling question seemed to be on everybody’s lips last night when one of YouTube’s most loved beauty gurus, Louise Pentland (a.k.a Sprinkle of Glitter) went on BBC’s Celebrity Mastermind.
We absolutely adored the episode and were seriously impressed with her Harry Potter knowledge. We didn’t even care that she came in 4th place, it’s the taking part and representing charity that counts!
However, Twitter felt very differently. Below are a selection of tweets from the evening, and it’s clear which side of fame fence these viewers fell on.
People don’t really keep their opinions to themselves, huh? And whilst we absolutely adored Louise, her slaying of the Harry Potter round and her giggles at the squeaky chair, three very clear questions were raised about her appearance and the concept of ‘fame’.
1 – Money.
One of the most prominent topics of conversation when it comes to YouTubers is money – how much they earn, get sponsored for and get paid for advertising. It’s a subject that YouTubers themselves seem very uncomfortable discussing, as can be seen with Alfie Deyes’ reaction to the Louise/Mastermind episode…
By focusing on the amount of pennies one has in their bank account, the general public seem to be sending a very clear message about what it means to be famous – the person in question must be ludicrously rich.
The fact that Mastermind host John Humphries asked Louise how much money she earns not only undermines her status as a celebrity, but also highlights to a national audience that the only reason she must be on the show is because she is stinky rich. Her fans did not react too kindly to this.
Obviously, this is idiotic. Popularity and fame come down to an individuals charisma and unique selling point in a digital market so over-saturated with personalities that it’s fundamental to stand out.
Sure, the money may follow on afterwards, but we hope that the very first time Louise, Alfie, Zoe or even PewDiePie switched on their video cameras they were not thinking about money. That has never been what YouTube was about.
2 – The Nature of Fame.
As of 2016, there is no singular place in the world to create fame. Back in the day, when only the movie or music industry existed, people rose to stardom dizzyingly fast because there was no other competition. The Internet changed this.
We’ve seen MySpace celebrities, viral videos gone wild and even memes completely transform the lives of ordinary people, so it was inevitable that YouTube creators would eventually be dubbed ‘celebrities’ in their own right.
With millions of adoring viewers across multiple social media platforms, the reach and success of YouTube Royalty is staggering – and yet this seems to be completely alien to anybody outside the YouTube environment.
Louise’s appearance on Celebrity Mastermind only solidified this idea, with people sharing their opinions on whether some ‘beauty person from YouTube’ could and should be labelled as a celebrity.
Unfortunately, even though YouTuber’s are making Forbes’ ’30 Under 30′ list as trend-setters and game-changers, a large percentage of the global population still just sees them as ‘video idiots’.
This opinion will gradually change over time as YouTubers increasingly merge with mainstream media further, but at the time of posting, we were deeply upset to see so many people question Louise and her legitimacy as a celebrity.
3 – Audience Size.
We’re not even sure why the size of somebody’s following should define their level of fame, but apparently it was a big issue on Twitter last night. In fact, even some supporters of Louise started to use her subscriber count to bash back the haters and make their cases clear.
Unfortunately, this argument can go both ways. While us lot all sat in Unicorns HQ and you lovely people *still* reading this far into this article all know that YouTubers are celebrities, some people struggle with it.
Either because they don’t see YouTube as anything other than a ‘video site’ or because they choose to be totally detached from the Internet, someones audience size really doesn’t mean much aside from how many people are keen to see more of their work. Simple, really.
For example, the 2015 final of Strictly Come Dancing was viewed by 12 million people. PewDiePie has 41 million subscribers. Does this mean that Felix is more famous that Strictly? Definitely not. Not even close.
However, the fact that YouTubers have a viewership into the millions is certainly a fact that small-minded people need to be made aware of. These ‘video idiots’ aren’t just in the right place at the right time, they work hard for their fame and whilst they might not be considered famous by yourself, they certainly mean a lot to millions of other people.
At the end of the day, Louise was incredible on Mastermind last night and her brilliance will never be underestimated. However, it is important to look at the questions that YouTubers raise by appearing in the mainstream media.
If you have any thoughts, please feel free to contact us in the comments below, on Facebook or on Twitter!