In-Depth: Does YouTube Value Drama More Than Talent?
1 April 2016, 16:19
Is YouTube even about creativity any more?
This week, YouTube veteran Jon Cozart released a hilarious, star-studded music video entitled 'YouTube Culture: A Song' in which he compared the current state of YouTube to a dangerous cult. It's 100% worth a watch, take a gander:
Coincidentally, Jack Douglass (who features in Cozart's video), also recently released a video similar in tone. It's called 'DRAMA is more popular CONTENT' and it's about ... well, what do you think?
The message of these videos is clear - as funny as these songs are, these guys aren't happy with YouTube in its current state. It's a message that has been shared by many people recently (including me), but is it really valid?
Do These Problems Really Exist
Some of Jon and Jack's complaints are undoubtedly true - for example, it has long been true that YouTube is heavily weighted towards white males. This is partly due to the audience simply choosing to watch these people and partly due to YouTube being (until very recently) pretty useless at promoting diversity on the site. There have been creators of all kinds on the site since day 1, but those who fall outside of the 'beautiful YouTube boy' category have often found themselves with limited support.
Similarly, I think it's safe to say that we can all agree that 'drama' has been taking way too much prominence over actual content on YouTube lately. From Sam Pepper to Nicole Arbour, the YouTube community is growing weary of people being #dramatic instead of, you know, interesting or talented.
Other Problems Are More Grey
Cozart also makes references in his song to other YouTube 'scandals'. For example his line about a YouTuber book 'that I didn't write' is a clear swipe at the controversy that surrounded the supposed ghost-writing of both Zoe Sugg's book 'Girl Online'. We have given an opinion on this, but of course its ultimately up to you to decide if its a problem. Certainly it taps into a wider discussion about whether the merch that YouTubers are offering to their fans to buy is actually worth buying. This in turn becomes a wider conversation about whether YouTubers are now focussed too much on money over creating cool stuff. Certainly Cozart and the gang seem to have a negative view of merchandise, meet and greets, books and all the other delightful capitalist pursuits that have become controversial for YouTubers lately.
But Maybe All Is Not Lost
Okay, YouTube has it's fair share of problems - of course it does, and sure it's great that these guys are highlighting these problems. But with videos like Jon's, it can be easy to fall into a pit of 'everything is doomed' pessimism that YouTube doesn't really deserve. The magic of YouTube is its openness - anyone (with internet access and a camera) can be a YouTube and (on paper anyway) anyone can be a successful YouTuber. While we should definitely highlight and lovingly mock problems we perceive on the platform ultimately the best way to overcome those problems is to take your own advice and just make some content. A beautiful, creative video is a much more powerful remedy to YouTube's obsession with repetitive challenge videos, overpriced merch and 'drama' than a video complaining that there isn't enough creativity. It all comes down to the ultimate message of YouTube: just make stuff you love.
But hey, maybe I'm a huge idiot and I have no idea what the h*ck I'm talking about. Either way, we want to know what you think. Do you think that Jon and Jack's complaints are fair? Do you think that drama and repitition is now more common on YouTube than creativity? What would you do to solve things? Let us know in the comments below, on facebook or on twitter.
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