Jack Black is beating Will Smith at the YouTube game

31 January 2019, 17:45

jack black jablinski will smith
Picture: YouTube
Benedict Townsend

By Benedict Townsend

Two huge celebrities have recently joined YouTube, but only one of them is doing it right

The trend of big celebrities starting their own YouTube channels has only continued recently with both Will Smith and Jack Black joining the site in the last few months.

Previously celebs like Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson and Riverdale star Madelaine Petsch have made a splash on the video site and quickly gained millions of followers and views, making it attractive prospect for established celebs.

But the arrivals of Will Smith and Jack Black into YouTube could not have been more different. While Will Smith has slowly become a figure of derision in the wider YouTube community, Jack Black has been embraced with open arms.

How could this have happened? They are both beloved celebrities, and both generated a lot excitement when they first arrived at YouTube's door with a camera in-hand - and yet, one is winning the game and one is apparently not.

It's all about the approach

The approach these two celebs have taken to their YouTube channel are unwittingly emblematic of the two main wings of YouTube: the slick, shiny and corporate side (home of YouTube Premium and major brands) and the homemade, rough around the edges side (where normal people make their videos).

Will Smith's video are incredibly well-produced; they just look expensive. He travels around doing things like bungee-jumping into the Grand Canyon. The videos are filmed from multiple angles with the finest precision and edited with style and finesse. A lot of the videos are produced in conjunction with YouTube itself, or feature collaborations with some of the site's biggest stars.

Jack Black's videos, by contrast, could not be more lo-fi: he carries a camera around as he goes about his day, and his videos are edited by his young son.

Why does this matter?

Will Smith's video are better produced (and still good! I'm not saying they're not good!) but they lack the DIY appeal that ordinary YouTube videos have. Jack Black's videos, however, because they are literally so homegrown, are much more relatable, they feel warmer and more casual.

Score one for Jablinski.

The pair have also made interesting choices with regard to their approach to the YouTube community. Jack Black took advantage of the fact that he is probably the only person alive aside from PewDiePie who has enough cash lying around to buy Felix's ridiculous chair.

This automatically gave him a few authenticity points with viewers, because he displayed some basic knowledge of YouTube culture.

Will Smith, though, poor Will Smith, made the classic mistake (a mistake only an outsider would make), of appearing in the 2018 YouTube Rewind - presumably thinking this would up his YouTube street cred.

What he failed to understand is that there's nothing YouTube viewers love more than hating on the YouTube Rewind, meaning the Fresh Prince found himself slap bang in the middle of the most disliked YouTube video of all time. Ouch.

Jack Black joined YouTube in 2019, yet is already being more warmly accepted than Will Smith, simply because he's made the effort to integrate a little. Will, meanwhile, has had the Jacksfilms treatment:

So what's your point? What's your damn point?

Look, both of these guys are doing just fine. Both Will and Jack have millions of subscribers and thriving channels - I fully guarantee that they do not care about this article.

But it doesn't hurt to mention - perhaps as a cautionary tale to future celebs who may want to hop on the platform - that if you want to win at YouTube, you need to go for the hearts and minds more than just the hits, and in that regard, Jack Black is killing it.