I’m sure most of us are ‘Fan girls/boys’ of something. I love The Courteeners, have met the band and travelled to a couple of different countries to see them. The difference between a fan and a super fan? I won’t tell someone to kill themselves because they said Liam Fray is a bit arrogant. I wrote a post about YouTubers a few months back and a Jim Chapman super fan (amongst others) told me I should die as I was evil – when in fact I didn’t say anything remotely evil.
As technology moves along, so does the media in which we are exposed to. I am a huge fan of Zac Efron, who I saw through films, again I wouldn’t judge anyone who thinks he’s ugly (well wouldn’t go as far as to wish you dead anyway…) so why is it that as we are introduced to new media, the intensity of fans increases?
Social Media is the culprit, gone are the days you’d buy your favourite magazine and watch the news to catch a glimpse into the life of your favourite celebrity. Now you just take a scroll down your timeline and consume whatever is being shared. Whether thats a tweet, a photo or a video. YouTube has been prominent for years now but it’s only recently that stars of this media have emerged. Of course there are gamer YouTubers with massive followings, but I’m talking about the Zoella’s and Tanya Burr’s of this online world. Only it’s not just online anymore is it? Our guilty pleasure of watching Zoe show us what she bought last week, and seeing how Tanya perfects her smokey eye isn’t just confined to the internet. They’re releasing beauty and make-up lines, books and touring Britain charging teens crazy amounts of money for a small chat and a photo.
This is great right? The people teenagers (and children as young as 8) are relating to online are taking a leap out of their computers into a pot of cash. Oh, I mean a leap to meet the millions of subscribers who adore them. Now, I’m not bitter in any way, I think it’s great that people are making money from YouTube, of course they are hugely influential figures with a market thats hard to target hanging off their every word.
But is it real? Millions of young people are being consumed by the videos, tweets, Facebook posts and pictures these YouTubers are publishing, scrapping for any piece of information possible in order to know EVERYTHING about their idol. I know a lot of kids loved Hannah Montana, but at least they knew that WASNT REAL. YouTubers are real? Yes, they are real people like you and me, yes they are sharing their lives online, but are they? What these people share online is constructed, of course it is, it HAS to be. It’s constructed reality, and although it may seem real, it isn’t. Tanya Burr doesn’t have that annoying voice on and act like a 5 year old ALL THE TIME, her life isn’t a bed of roses as it appears in the majority of her videos. Yet because of this seeming ‘real’ teenagers are hanging onto this thinking it is, and in turn wanting that life – a life that IS NOT REAL and not achievable, setting them up for failure. Nobody has the perfect life and the pictures Zoella uploads onto Instagram are like anyone else, a product of about 200 others pictures looking for the perfect one to share.
Last time I commented on YouTubers someone told me they are keeping young people of the streets. Personally, I think that is a load of crap, but I can see their point. Yes, watching Zoella and the rest of the Gleam crew on YouTube may make someone think twice about going out with their friends to the park, but is that actually a good thing? ‘They are up to no good though’ – not necessarily and I think that in a society that is becoming more and more reliant on technology, children NEED to go outdoors and socialise. Social media ISNT social.
Whilst these YouTube Super Fans are hanging off every word of their ‘idols’, they’re creating fan accounts and spamming them. I don’t have an issue with this, yes it’s a little weird but it’s harmless. It’s the other side of these fandom’s that is sickening. If you go on Twitter and slate a YouTube ‘star’ using one of their hashtags you are ASKING to be abused. You don’t even need to slate them, simply state an opinion and the hate comes. I’ve been called all sorts and told to kill myself by children who are probably around 13. Great, you are keeping these kids of the street, but in turn they are bullying others online – saying disgusting things.
I’m aware that they’ve helped a lot of teens. Zoe talking openly about her anxiety will have helped a lot of teens who are feeling the same. They’re relatable characters, just like me and you, right? But are they? Is your friend paid to tell you this Simple moisturiser is AMAZING? No, so why are teens finding they can still relate to these people who are simply Marketing tools? Thankfully regulations have been brought in to ensure YouTubers disclose any sponsored content, AT LAST, as a lot of them didn’t bother. But even so, a lot of their viewers aren’t even aware that they are sponsored to say certain things, they don’t have the knowledge to make decisions based on how they should de code the messages they hear/see on screen. Their viewers aren’t equipped to make these decisions and that is sad. Yes, it’s like TV but we all know when we see Nicole Scherzinger screaming as if she’s having an orgasm on the Muller advert, she isn’t doing it just because she likes the yoghurt. I don’t think young people are equipped with the knowledge to distinguish when they’re being advertised to, and it’s a scary thought.
Yes, it’s the world of Marketing (in which I am employed in), but am I the only one who thinks that even this is too far?
*I just want to make it clear that I am in NO WAY saying they shouldn’t take the opportunities presented to them. I just think the regulations in place aren’t great, their audience are young and quite frankly so immersed in their ‘perfect lives’ it scares me. Also, I’m not jealous. I couldn’t think of anything worse than having thousands of children screaming my name, regardless of how much money Gleam wanted to throw at me.