It’s Time For Traditional Media To Start Respecting YouTubers
2 December 2015, 10:41
They work hard - so don't they deserve respect?
Millions of people love YouTubers. We recently published a list of all the countries that have fewer citizens than PewDiePie has subscribers (see it here). Needless to say, the numbers are insane.
Despite the biggest YouTuber in the world having more followers than large sections of the actual world itself, though, YouTubers weirdly get very little, if any, respect from the mainstream media. An article did the rounds recently in which the author lamented the success of PewDiePie and stated in no uncertain terms that he thinks Felix is bad and actually also very bad. In fact, the headline of said article boldly declared that 'If PewDiePie Is YouTube's Top Talent, We're All Doomed'. Yikes. The approach the author took here is, I feel, ignorant of the state of the world and, factually, just incorrect.
I'm not saying that this journalist is objectively wrong, they are just expressing their freedom to have an opinion - and god knows we respect freedom of speech here in [insert whatever, hopefully democratic, country you live in]. Of course they are allowed to not like YouTubers, but the issue I have is that they are automatically linking taste and respect - and those are two different concepts. It is possible to respect someone's work while at the same time not actually liking what they produce. In the instance of PewDiePie, for example, you may not enjoy what he makes (as that journalist did), but you have to respect that what he does is difficult and respect that he has had phenomenal success. It is usually around this point, though, that people start yelling:
"Yeah But Anyone Can Do That"
Yes, except actually no. It's a common misconception that just because it doesn't necessarily require a lot of money, equipment or training to become a YouTuber, that means that it's super-easy to be successful as one. I mean, if it's so easy to just turn on a camera and make millions of dollars, why don't more people do it? AH WAIT - FRIGGIN' EVERYONE DOES.
There are countless people trying to make their name on YouTube - but how many famous YouTubers can you name off the top of your head? Even a diehard YouTube fan would probably struggle to get past 30. The truth is that being a successful YouTuber takes many things, with the main thing being a whole load of hard work:
Pewdz is obviously kidding here. He's trying to sum up everything that people think (or like to think) makes up the life of a professional YouTuber. It may seem like this dude just plays video games and gets hella pay, but in reality he played video-games for hours a day, every day for years then spent hundreds of hours editing and promoting them. Bear in mind, this isn't just playing video-games either, this is playing them in a way that is entertaining for an external audience. He's not just turning on a game and relaxing, he's 'on' the whole damn time. Let's also not forget that there are an almost limitless number of gaming channels on YouTube, so not only do you have to produce an unbelievable quantity of quality content to be successful, you also need to somehow stand out from a massive, massive crowd. That's not easy - and you know what the absolute hardest part is?
Getting Big Is Only Half The Battle, Anyway
The truth is creating a successful channel really is only half the battle - the main hill to climb is working out how to maintain your channel - something that frequently spells the doom for successful channels. This is particularly deadly for channels that are only coasting on the success of one viral video and don't actually know how to keep their viewers interested over time. You only have to look at some of the giant channels that have risen so high and fallen so far, to see how hard channel maintenance can be:
"But YouTubers Only Make Trash"
It can be understandable that people may look down their noses at the content produced on YouTube, particularly if their only connection with the magical world of video is through traditional news sources. There only tend to be two kinds of stories produced about YouTube: 'look how much money these YouTubers have inexplicably made' and 'this YouTuber has done a terrible, terrible thing.' Yes, YouTubers do make lots of money and people are obsessed with it and yes, some YouTubers are pretty much the worst - but judging an entire website of people based on these few examples? Rookie mistake. YouTubers are capable of making things that are important, like this:
and which make the world better place, like this:
Oh and would you look at that! It's our old pal PewDiePie, raising millions of dollars for charity! You know what? If that is the kind of person we have at the top of YouTube, I wouldn't exactly describe us as 'doomed'.