Life&Style Writer, Molly Brooker-Corcoran discusses the rise of mainstream celebrities using YouTube as a way to benefit their careers
Youtube is a phenomenon which has dramatically increased in popularity over the last decade and begun to challenge traditional media as an outlet for our entertainment needs. As a career, it has become a highly competitive and lucrative market; with stars such as Zoella, Jeffree Star, and Pewdiepie building entire brands and earning thousands from advertising deals and collaborations on their channels. It is unsurprising that celebrities have started to join the hype and launch their own channels.
On the 29th of November, Naomi Campbell became the latest celebrity to join the cohort. In the opening 10 seconds of her first video Naomi faces the camera and yells ‘Am I crazy? I’m opening my life to YouTube.’ In many ways she is; though YouTube may seem like a hobby compared to the giants of TV and Film industries it has proved to be a tiresome and demanding endeavour. According to a Guardian article published in August last year, many YouTubers are feeling burnt out due to the pressures of the job, and the high demands for videos from their viewers.
Celebrities however, do not share these anxieties. Whilst professional YouTubers are forced to push out videos in order to sustain their career and livelihood, established celebrities are able to use it as purely another outlet for the social media presence. Without the time pressures and reliance on ad revenue, celebrity YouTube accounts are more intimate and entertaining than much of the content produced on the site. And their accounts are extremely successful; Will Smith has over 4.3 million subscribers on his channel, Dwayne Johnson has 3.1 million, and actresses Shay Mitchell and Madelaine Petsch both have 3.4 million subscribers each.
But why are we so interested in watching celebrities on YouTube? If there are so many YouTubers working hard to create content, why do we continue to gravitate towards celebrities?
One reason that YouTube in general is so popular, comes down to the idea of time constraints. We are living in an increasingly busy and frantic society, and as a result we do not always have time to ingest a full television show or film. YouTube presents an alternative entertainment which fits in with our busy schedules. Videos are relatively short and snappy, and so they allow our brain to have a break from work and relax, but not for too long. Though people may not stick to watching one video and then returning to their work; the premise of a shorter and quicker form of entertainment is always more appealing. There is something satisfying about watching a narrative play out in 5-8 minutes on YouTube as a form of distraction. Perhaps it is the lack of commitment that YouTube requires; unlike with a TV show you do not need to commit to a whole series as YouTube videos stand alone.
In a society that is dictated by our online presence, YouTube is an ingenious way for celebrities to connect with their fans. Despite various social media outlets, many celebrities still maintain an aura of mystery when it comes to their personal lives. YouTube helps to break down these barriers, without completely destroying them. Obviously the celebrity is still dictating what they are putting out into the world, however YouTube videos are intrinsically more intimate than other forms of social media. For major stars, the only visual content fans can enjoy (outside of their official work as an actor/singer/model/other), comes in the form of interviews or press junkets, YouTube videos presents an alternative option outside of this narrative in which a celebrity’s personality can flourish. Interviews can be overridden by a need to promote a project, whereas on YouTube celebrities can connect more intimately with their audience, relating more to those watching. For example; Will Smith’s vlogs, in which his children and wife star, are extremely popular because fans gain access to a portion of his life that cannot be seen without YouTube.
YouTube allows celebrities to exhibit themselves online in a way that no other social media sites can. These videos create an insight into their lives that is palpable for the audience, as it shows hidden moments and interactions. The same weight cannot be given to pictures on Instagram or tweets. We gravitate towards these videos because we wish to know more intimate details about celebrities, and those that are willing to showcase this are ensured success.