YouTube Culture

Merry Monday!

Alright, so everybody’s been going crazy the past couple of months. By everybody, I mean YouTubers. And what they’ve been going crazy over is the seemingly recent acknowledgement of the of fame and stardom within the  YouTube community and the consequences that follow. Let me break this down.

It all started with SprinkleOfGlitter, aka Louise Watson, who posted a video appropriately entitled “YouTube Culture” in May.

 

Screenshot 2014-07-07 00.43.53

 

This video sparked a YouTube revolution. Okay, maybe not a revolution (yet), but it definitely got a great deal of people that use the platform to voice their opinions on the topic. From the people in comment sections, to smaller YouTubers, even to the major YouTube celebrities like PewDiePie.

 

Screenshot 2014-07-07 00.54.46

 

What Louise was saying was that after experiencing her subscribers scream at her and go crazy at YouTube conventions and meet-ups, she was overwhelmed. She says that it has come to a point where her own fans scare her. She thinks that there needs to be a better way for famous content creators to interact with their fans in a more stable environment. What’s more important is that she believes that she doesn’t deserve the praise and idolisation from her subscribers. She used idol and role model” as the key word. Louise thinks, and I agree with her, that to idolise someone one needs to acknowledge that person’s life story. She fears that they might not realise that the person they see onscreen is only the version of herself she wants to put out there. In other words, often viewers fall in love with the person that the content creator has decided to portray, not the actual content creator. So when one says Louise is their idol, they really mean Sprinkleofglitter is their idol.

Personally, I agree with every single word she said. I left a lot out, so you really should check out the full video to get the full idea, it’s refreshingly honest.

What struck me the most was the part where she talked about how she found it weird that there were barriers between her and her viewers at this convention. Also, when she heard that a girl queued for 7 hours just to see her, she felt like crying. This was what got me thinking, for the first time, about the authenticity of the “dialogue” atmosphere the YouTube claims to uphold, contrasting to the “monologue” ideology of mainstream media.

Until recently, we’d all accepted the idea that mainstream media, mainly TV, is not a platform where creator and consumer can interact. Because, really, no matter how much I love Amy Poehler I know that there’s zero chance we’ll ever meet. However, I sincerely and shamelessly believe that I will meet Trisha Paytas, The Third Pew and Brandon Berg and that we’ll be the best of friends. Seriously. But the point is, I soon realised, after watching all of Tyler Oakley‘s VidCon vlogs, that YouTube culture really isn’t that different to Hollywood culture.

 

Notice the screaming fans screaming for Tyler's attention. Also BODYGUARDS!

Notice the screaming fans screaming for Tyler’s attention. Also BODYGUARDS!

Granted, Tyler Oakley has over 4 million of subscribers, so fame is inevitable. However, the power that be have constructed an environment where the subscribers are treated as fans and YouTubers who happen to have lots of subscribers are treated as celebrities. Just like the mainstream entertainment industry. Bodyguards, flashing cameras, fangirls begging for the famous person’s attention, signed posters and red carpets.

People aren’t equal within the YouTube community. I’m not sure if they ever were; I got into YouTube relatively recently so I wasn’t there to witness the early days of YouTube but I see where it is today and I’m afraid to say, it looks a lot like the mainstream entertainment industry. There are spaces on YouTube where there is plenty of dialogue. Sadly, this usually only occurs when the YouTuber has below half a million subscribers, maybe even less. It seems that when the subscriber count goes up, comments and tweets stop getting replies.

Louise is really on to something, and I love it. She’s one of the few top YouTubers that seem to care about the divide between viewer and content creator. I respect that. She’s not the only one. Here’s a non-extensive list of other YouTubers that feel the same way (my favourite is TheThirdPew’s, just sayin’).

Don’t worry, I added links so just click on their names to go straight to their “YouTube Culture” videos. I know people of the Interwebs are lazy, I got you.

1. TheThirdPew

2. PewDiePie

3. Mickeleh

4. ChewingSand

5. Vicky (from The Hopeful Family)

 

What’s your take on all this? Comment!

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ARE TROYE SIVAN & CASPAR LEE ‘REAL’ SOUTH AFRICAN YOUTUBERS?

Good Day People of the Interwebs,

Do you consider Troye Sivan and Caspar Lee genuine South African YouTubers?

It’s Troye on the left and Caspar on the right. This was the thumbnail for Caspar’s video “Exclusive Interview With Troye Sivan”

 

Today I was exploring the small but talented world of South African YouTubers and found a video by the amazing Michael Cost entitled ‘What South African Movies Taught Me‘ and he said something that really struck a chord with me. After he mentioned all he learnt from Spud was that “if you starred in Spud, you will become a famous YouTuber”, he said something I’d been too afraid to voice myself, which is that he thinks Troye Sivan and Caspar Lee aren’t reeeally South African YouTubers because:

a) Caspar was actually born in England and moved to South Africa when he was young, and

b) although Troye was born in Johannesburg, he moved to Australia when he was young and has lived there ever since

And, to be honest, I kind of agree with him. But not for those reasons.

Okay, I see the disappointed judgement on your face. Let me make my points clear before we start throwing stones. Firstly, I don’t think that you have to be born in a place to call it home, so Caspar, you’re as South African as I am. I don’t dispute that fact. And Troye, well I don’t actually know what your family’s reasoning was for moving to Australia but whether you have or haven’t abandoned your South Africanness has nothing to do with me.

HOWEVER, the way I see other South African YouTubers is not how I see Caspar and Troye. For me, it’s not so much that I don’t think Caspar and Troye aren’t South African, that I have no right to decide, but for me it’s more of the essence of a hardcore South African YouTuber that I think they don’t have.  You know what I mean?

 

Here're just a FEW awesome South African YouTubers. From top left corner to the bottom right corner it goes: Michael Cost, Kharla Williams, Nerdzsquared, Prev Reddy, Rohil Aniruth, Tenn iBair, Liesl Prinsloo, Mark Fitzgibbon and ME! (^_^)

Here’re just a FEW awesome South African YouTubers. From top left corner to the bottom right corner it goes: Michael Cost, Kharla Williams, Nerdzsquared, Prev Reddy, Rohil Aniruth, Tenn iBair, Liesl Prinsloo, Mark Fitzgibbon and ME! (^_^)

 

Most South African YouTubers that I stalk (did I say stalk? I meant subscribe to) and love watching don’t really have über HD cameras, don’t hang out and travel with mega famous YouTubers like Tyler Oakley and Zoella, don’t get over a million views for a video and definitely don’t have a million subscribers. Heck, I’m pretty sure we get excited when we see we’d gotten a hundred views on a video and gained two subscribers.

But this is what I love about the South African YouTube community. We are growing together, experiencing the struggle of slow internet and powering through Eskom but are still making videos, not because we’ve got a billion subscribers, but because we have twelve and we love entertaining those twelve. Well, that’s why I’m doing it anyway.

So, no hate to Caspar and Troye (Troye was actually previously one of my “YouTuber of the Week” click the link to find out why!). I actually enjoy their videos. I’m simply saying they just don’t have the je ne sais quoi that I find in other South African YouTubers. Hey, it’s neither a good nor a bad thing: they’re just different.

Having said that, please check out all the South African YouTubers I’ve included in the collage I made, they’re top notch, I promise.

Here’s a list, in order of appearance:

1) Michael Cost

2) Kharla Williams

3) Nerdzsquared 

4) Preven Reddy 

5) Rohil Aniruth

6) Tenn iBair

7) Liesl Prinsloo

8) Mark Fitzgibbon

9) Gugu Béla

As usual, comment below! I’m dying to know what you think about this.

South Africans Can’t Vine? Can’t YouTube Either?

Happy Tuesday

I have recently discovered something ghastly. South Africans don’t think South Africans are funny enough for ‘American’ social media platforms. To be more specific, a few people I’ve spoken to genuinely think that South Africans should stay away form Vine and YouTube because “we’re just not funny.”  I don’t know. I think we’re not giving ourselves enough credit. And yes, before you chew me up and spit me out because I am grossly generalising: I know. I did not conduct a survey for everyone between the ages of 16 and 25 throughout the country to come to my conclusion. I have merely observed that among my own social circles, a shocking amount of people feel this way.

I have to disagree with the claim that South Africans as a whole aren’t funny. I mean not everyone is funny. But what does it mean to be funny? Humour is very subjective, no matter where you are from. Some people think Jim Carrey is funny while others would love to hit him over the head with a frying pan. Some people just don’t think he’s funny. Same goes with people on YouTube or Vine. The problem I faced when trying to argue against people that were telling me that South Africans can’t Vine is that I didn’t actually follow any South African Viners at the time. So yeah, I didn’t really have much of a comeback there. However I have quite a few people I admire on YouTube that are, *gasp*, South African!  But, me being the awkward human being that I am, I failed to make any comebacks yet again. Basically I’m a useless human being.

However, I still stand by my statement: South Africans have the potential to be just as funny/creative/influential Viners and YouTubers as Americans. Want examples? After the embarrassing realisation that I didn’t know any South African Viners I did my homework…

 

Follow South African Viners!!

Note: This is a very short list. I am a lazy individual.

1) Bo7bbsie

2) Daniel Rademeyer

3) Tiaan191

4) Chanel

5) DJ Fresh (SA)

Yes, DJ Fresh Vines!

 

Subscribe to South African YouTubers!

1) NerdzSquared

2) Mark Fitzgibbon

3) Preven Reddy

4) Amy Spence

5) Gugu Béla

 

And there are some of the amazing South Africans representing! If you agree with me and believe that we as South Africans aren’t half bad at Vine-ing and YouTube-ing, be sure to check those lists out. If you don’t think South Africans have the ability to take the Vine & YouTube world by storm, check the links out anyway, you might be surprised! I think what makes a YouTuber/Viner successful is when they get support from their fans. Perhaps South African Viners/YouTubers just don’t have a large enough fanbase to make them seem more successful. But you must remember, there isn’t as much access to internet here in South Africa as there is in America. This is not an excuse for people who do have access to write off any South African YouTubers/Viners, but it is something to consider in terms of views, revines, likes etc.

Just give South African Viners and YouTubers a chance before you declare every one of them unentertaining!

 

NerdzSquared

Here’s NerdzSquared!

 

Mark Fitzgibbon errbody!

Mark Fitzgibbon errbody!

Oh, before I forget. You may have noticed my name in the list of YouTubers. Yes, that was a little conceited of me. No, I don’t regret it.

🙂 Support fellow South Africans!

Coconut Culture

Here’s to anyone who’s ever been called a Coconut, Peppermint Pattie, Oreo, Klondike Bar, or what have you. Apparently one must be either candy, a delicious cookie, or a fruit…or whatever coconuts are.

This is a discussion on the Coconut Culture present in our society, and here’s what those that have been labelled as such have to say about it…

Cookies & Coconuts

A tall, ten year old snot-nosed girl with frizzy relaxed hair yells at a short five year old snot-nosed girl with dreadlocks, “Wena you’re such a coconut!” To which the dreadlocked girl replied with frustrated passive-aggressiveness, “Coconut? That’s a fruit!”

That little social interaction was between an old friend and I in a rural town called Bothaville in the Free State, circa 2001. I was the short one with dreadlocks. The reason my friend accused me of being what I believed at the time was a fruit (which is actually a seed) was because when I spoke Sotho it sounded weird. The problem was that my tongue wanted to say Sotho phrases in English. The intonations were off and I emphasised the wring syllables. You see, up until that point I had been living in Maryland, Virginia where there weren’t a lot of Sotho-speaking children I could play with (I doubt that there are today).

The video I am blogging about this week is one that resonates completely with this topic. It is a slam poetry session by one of the poetry channels I have subscribed to: Button Poetry. The video is entitled “Tucker Bryant – ‘Oreo’ (CUPSI 2014)”. The poem itself speaks to my heart. It is a strong reaction to the slap on the faces of many non-white people who have ever been called either “Oreo, Klondike, York bar and Peppermint Patties”.

Bryant addresses the stereotypes of "Oreos"

Bryant addresses the stereotypes of “Oreos”

Tucker Bryant starts off the poem by reciting an anecdote about his candy-eating habits as a child. This then brings him to eating his first Oreo. He then started “swallowing them whole, while the other kids would twist them apart, licking off the cream while discarding of the brown shells. Stacy said the white part just tastes better”. This is also a metaphor for the way he perceives the mind-set of Stacy (who would later on call him an Oreo); ignorant and prejudiced towards a certain colour. Bryant also addresses the way in which she told him he was an Oreo. She said it as if it were a compliment. As if he would be crazy to be offended at being called an Oreo. That being an Oreo would be the closest he would come to “touching white privilege”.

Bryant expresses heated emotion as he talks about the issues with being called an Oreo. His opinions seem to be that; firstly, it is offensive to call someone an Oreo, Peppermint Patty or any interchangeable term. Secondly, he feels as if Oreos are tamed/watered-down black people that are “easier to swallow” for white people. He used the metaphor of someone loving caffeine but needing to add creamers and sweeteners to their coffee because they can’t stand the bitterness of the “blackness [that] the binds to [their] tongue”. Thirdly, Bryant believes that he shouldn’t have to “leap out of [his] own ancestry”. He believes that acceptance should not involve looking for oneself in others. In other words, personality is not necessarily liked to skin colour. Now. I can relate to this poem on many levels. However, there are other levels to which I cannot.

First and foremost, we need to translate the term “Oreo” into the South African equivalent: Coconut. Typically, coconuts are determined according to hobbies, preferred music genre, their English accent and how many African languages they can speak fluently. For example, I myself prefer listening to Indie and Folk music to House or Kwaito. My love for water is ridiculous, seeing as I have partaken in numerous galas throughout my high and middle school careers and have always begged my mother to get a house with a swimming pool my entire childhood. Not to mention, I have a certified scuba diving license. These are all the signs that you are a coconut, according to the general consensus of the people of South Africa.

Much like Bryant, I am fed up with the fuss over Coconuts. I believe it is simple: people are brought up in different environments and thus have adopted various cultures over time. Being the daughter of a diplomat, I grew up in three different countries. As a child I never had the chance to recognise the difference between black, white, brown, and yellow. I guess I had too many sleepovers with girls of Arab, English, Pakistani and Indian ethnicity to acquire the mind-set that would help me place labels and racial boundaries on the things I found fun, such as music or hobbies. I was immersed in too many cultures and spoke too much English. I did not eat enough Kotas, the taxis I rode in were not Quantums and my Egyptian next-door neighbour did not speak my mother tongue.

I had to get accustomed to different languages, and here are some of them: Arabic, French, Spanish, my mother tongue Sesotho and of course English.

I had to get accustomed to different languages, and here are some of them: Arabic, French, Spanish, my mother tongue Sesotho and of course English.

Whenever I visited home—South Africa—I was confronted by fellow black people using Coconut to accuse me of abandoning my roots. The age ranged form elders and aunties to my peers. More often than not, these individuals did not hesitate to point fingers and slap labels on my face, not knowing I did understand them whispering in Sesotho, that I did know how to play Dikete and that I did know how to cook pap.

Therefore the prejudice and judgements towards individuals labelled as Coconuts is unjustifiable. From my experience it is usually other black people labelling black people, which differs from Bryant’s experiences. However, the lesson that must be learnt is the same: people need to accept people for who they are. And this is presented in my own project entitled Coconut Culture which directly confronts assumptions made about those labelled as so-called coconuts.

I would therefore like to acknowledge Button Poetry for their video of “Oreo” by Tucker Bryant this week because it helped to make my stance on the Coconut issue clear. Indeed, South Africa; a country that runs on a highly liberal national constitution, and calls itself the Rainbow Nation, still has a lot of learning to do when it comes to social awareness.

Be sure to check out Button Poetry on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/ButtonPoetry. They are a channel based in Minnesota dedicated to the distribution of live performance poetry.

Also, please check out Coconut Culture, I promise you will learn something worthwhile.

As always, stay fresh.

YouTube: Old Media Vs. New Media

I would like to bring your attention to something I stumbled upon on YouTube the other day that really got me thinking. In fact I would say it sparked a powerful bout of defensiveness for the realm of YouTube. I had never known I harboured so many sentimental values for the space and its members. For the first time in my life I felt as if I were part of a brotherhood, camaraderie, a revolution, if you may. Allow me to elaborate.

The video that got me all riled up was an interview of one of the most popular (and one of my personal favourites) YouTubers at the moment: Jenna Marbles (her real name is Jenna Mourey, Marbles is what she named her Chihuahua) conducted on Good Morning America. Jenna Marbles posts weekly videos on YouTube that are mostly comments on mundane day-to-day activities, parodies of celebrities and she plays on the dominant discourses and asocial constructs in society.

Her videos include How To Trick People Into Thinking You’re Good Looking, Pumpkin Carving With Miley Cyrus and How Guys Take A Shower. Jenna Marbles is an extremely successful YouTuber and content creator; she has “more Facebook fans than Jennifer Lawrence, more Twitter followers than Fox News and more Instagram followers than Oprah”.

I was minding my own merry business, binge-watching Jenna Marbles’ videos when something caught my eye. I looked at the side bar and I noticed a video entitled Jenna Marbles Interview – Queen of YouTube Reaches Billionth Click… posted by DAILY BEAST last year. I clicked on the video and was delighted to discover her on Good Morning America; traditional mainstream media, which I, up until that point, thought every YouTuber dreamt of doing. My glee was short-lived. The clip consisted of the interviewer—Celia Vega—patronising Jenna by asking condescending questions such as “do you think you deserve to have as many fans as you do?”. Jenna was also described as “the most famous person you never heard of” …according to who? Her 13 million subscribers would beg to differ. Good Morning America proceeded to turn the interview into a game of “how many times did Jenna say the word ‘ridiculous’?” when Cecilia Vega made a jibe on how often Jenna used that word in their hour-long interview. This was a clear attempt to ridicule Jenna, and in doing so, making a mockery of the entire YouTube community.

Celia Vega ridicules Jenna Marbles on Good Morning America.

By disrespecting one of the most successful members of what Jenna (and the general youth) refers to as the “new media”, old media is looking down upon them. This makes sense, because members of old media in America, such as Good Morning America, CNN, Fox News are struggling to grasp the youth’s attention as younger people are moving away from watching TV and buying newspapers.

Fewer and fewer people are interested in buying newspapers and listening to radio news as sources. Online sources are quickly becoming mainstream.

This interview brought many Jenna Marbles’ fans as well as supporters of new media together in the reaction to this instance. Many were offended (and rightly so). There were a few video responses, and one that stuck out for me was one by Ana Kasparian entitled Jenna Marbles vs. GMA. Ana Kasparian has a history in both television and the YouTube workplace Kasparian seems to agree with me and the rest of the community of YouTube (at least the fans of Jenna Marbles), and goes into detail about how most news stations are not as free to cover the stories they want to cover, they are restricted to present themselves in a certain way, and the bear the weight of higher powers (such as advertisers) on their shoulders.This is why they might behave coldly towards YouTubers or media groups based online because those groups are much more liberated in that they have the freedom to cover the stories they want to. They can conduct themselves the way feel (using swear words and racy skits) without worrying about their bosses terminating them. Ultimately, social media moguls and YouTubers have complete control over their content. Sadly, this is something the employees of mainstream media will never have, at least not in the near future. What is worse is that stunts like these will deter young people from fully embracing old media.

A valuable thing to note about the culture of YouTube is that there are a multitude of niches that are relevant to certain demographics. The founders of YouTube, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, created a platform that opened many doors for everyone who has a decent internet connection, a computer and a camera.

Classic Jenna Marbles.

One must acknowledge that we are living in changing times and that techniques that used to work for the media are becoming out dated. This is not to say that YouTube will one day rule the entire sphere of mainstream media, but it is simply a suggestion that the old media make room for newer forms of media to thrive.

As always, stay fresh.

Solange vs. Jay-Z! Wait…Beyoncé Was There?

Happy Thursday!

This blog needs no introduction nor does it need an explanation. There’s elevator video footage TMZ posted on YouTube where Solange beats Jay-Z up.

Yeah, Jay, we know it hurt.

Now most people watched that video and started talking about how crazy Solange is and wondering what Jay-Z said to her to make her go that crazy. For me, what was going through my mind was very different so I’ve compiled a short list of things I was thinking while Solange beat Jay-Z up.

1) Is the elevator going up or down?
2) How many floors does that building have, this video goes on forEVER?
3) Is that big guy holding Solange back a bodyguard?
4) If he is, who’s bodyguard is he?
5) I mean, are they all sharing one bodyguard?
6) If they are, what’s up with that?
7) Also, is Beyoncé choosing to ignore the situation because she’s above it or had the Illuminati spirits taken over momentarily?

I hope some of you shared these thoughts, although I strongly doubt it. Also, for future reference, don’t beat up somebody in an elevator thinking it’s private. Evidently, it’s not.

As always, stay fresh.