The YouTube Gazette

news, web-TV reviews, opinion and journalistically questionable content

Posts tagged online video

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Streamy Awards: Much Better than Last Time

image

^ Ashley Clements and George Takei

It would be safe to say that the Streamy’s have a bit of a rocky history; they’ve only been around since 2009 but have managed to rack up more than their fair share of controversy and negative press since then.

In 2010 tubefilter CEO Brady Brim-Deforest was forced to apologize after numerous technical problems and a seemingly never ending stream of vulgar jokes, cursing and more than partial nudity ran through the course of the show.

IAWTV

And although the awards are billed as an annual event, there wasn’t actually a show last year, or the year before.

This was because IAWTV (The International Academy  of Web Television) split from tubefilter after the 2010 show and went on to form it’s own awards show (shockingly called the IAWTV awards) that celebrated its second show this January.

So this year the Streamy’s had everything to prove, and by teaming up with Dick Clark Productions (the company behind the Golden Globes) they obviously intended to get it right this time.

And did they?

Sort of, no-one ran across the stage naked, at least, and the show went off as planned.

Everyone who went seems to have had a good time and commentary has been generally positive; particularly singled out was stand up comedian Chris Hardwick’s presentation of the awards.

Faux Mainstream

image

^ Vanilla Ice, rapper and (I’m not even joking) home improvement extraordinaire

However, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t some criticism too.

The main issue seems to be that the show was seen as trying to be something it wasn’t by inviting a host of Hollywood and pop culture types.

Particularly cited were performances by rappers Vanilla Ice and Soulja Boy, some felt that the performances alone were fine but wondered what they had to do with online video "as an awards show that’s about the online community it would be great to see some promotion of smaller artists".

Hank Green, creator of the undisputed king of online video based events that is VidCon, stepped in to give his opinion of the night:

"To me it didn’t feel like online video…it still felt like online video trying to imitate Hollywood…which we’ve done for too long already"

Whether this was down to the influence of Dick Clark Productions or perhaps an attempt to out-glitz the IAWTV awards is a matter of speculation but it’s definitely something they might want to work on if they want to hold on to their core audience.

You know, the people who actually watch online video.

Filed under streamy awards ashley clements lizzie bennet diaries hank green vidcon online video youtube IAWTV awards IAWTV

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Sam Pepper Entry In £10,000 ChannelFlip Contest Causes Controversy

The contest -which Pepper is currently winning- is sponsored by computer giant Dell and the prize consists of £10,000, professional coaching by David Mitchell and the opportunity to star in their own online comedy show (presumably featured on ChannelFlip itself).

The range of entrants includes individual comedians as well as small groups doing impressions, skits and routines.

It’s ostensibly aimed at up and coming underground comedians who want a leg up into the mainstream.

Forgot to Tell the Joke

Whether that category includes ex big brother contestant Pepper is debatable, especially considering his somewhat unclear prior affiliations with ChannelFlip.

However, it’s the nature of his entry itself that’s really got people riled up.

"Hi guys, just wanted to quickly enter this competition cause I’m a comedian and [I] just wanna tell you a joke"

Roughly twenty seconds of silence then passes before a caption pops up saying ”sorry guys I forgot to tell the joke” Pepper then goes on to say

so if you could just vote for me that would be really good thanks guys”

Bus Tour

This isn’t the first time Pepper has been criticised for the way he utilises his fan base.

In June of this year he started a campaign to buy a coach and tour the U.K at a hefty £50,000 price tag. Funded, of course, by donations from his subscribers who in return would be permitted to enter the bus and party with him and other YouTubers.

The project soon fell flat after only a small percentage of the target was met and the video promoting it was privated by Pepper.

Vote Based Competitions

It isn’t just Pepper who’s come up for criticism.

Traditionally competitions like these can expect the winner to be the person with the best entry.

They make the assumption that nearly everyone coming to the website arrives relatively unbiased and without having yet decided who they’re voting for or that they’ll at least take a look at the other entries.

This logic kind of goes out the window when dealing with people who already have a built in fanbase and who don’t need to carve one out through the competition itself.

The implication is that if competitions want to claim that they’re rewarding the best entry rather than the one with the largest fanbase behind it -regardless of objective merit- then impartial judges rather than a system of open voting is the way to go.

Regardless of who actually wins it seems clear that those who organise competitions like these will need to start factoring competitors who already have large audiences into their calculations.

Filed under sam pepper channelflip david mitchell comedyspots online video youtube comedy dell ray roberts

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Vlogging and Driving: An Accident Waiting to Happen?

Sometimes it takes a while for the law to catch up with advances in technology and the the changes in culture that accompany those advances.

Especially if those changes only apply to a small percentage of the population.

Like, you know, YouTubers.

Vlogging and driving is something that’s been briefly and occasionally talked about for a couple of years now on road trip videos and in comment sections.

Daily Vloggers

Most of the people who do vlog and drive -at least on a regular basis- are within the spectrum of daily vloggers or people who have a daily vlogger channel in addition to a main channel.

Viewers are often taken along for the ride instead of the vlogger sitting down at the end of the day and recounting their experience. It’s seen as a more interesting way to present the story, saves time and is an aide to those with poor memory for detail.

Texting

If there’s one thing that vlogging and driving is even remotely comparable to it’s driving while texting. Both text based communication and easily portable digital recording devices saw their advent at around the same time.

"I think it’s just as bad as texting, texting has caused many accidents and you see the commercials. I see people, you know they’re driving in their car, holding their camera in their hand over here and I mean they’re looking back at it driving and you’re not focused on the road. what’s going on?"

It’s been argued that if using a recording device while driving were as prevalent as sending a text while driving that it would also be banned.

Speculating about it doesn’t really help anyone.

For now at least it’s legal, although anyone using their phone as a camera shouldn’t be too surprised if they get pulled over and the cop isn’t in the mood to learn about new media.

Some YouTuber’s who vlog and drive have adopted dashboard and windshield mounts which much like hands free kits allow the driver to keep both hands on the wheel at all times.

Again, though, a lot still depends on the individual. Someone who constantly glances at the camera is going to be paying less attention than someone who keeps their attention on the road and simply speaks as they drive.

Doing that kind of raises the question of why you’re bothering to do it in the first place. It would seem that producing a video like that would be pretty unentertaining.

Attention 

What’s really the issue here is the amount attention that it takes away from the road, something that’s generally unclear and depends on the person doing it.

The driver must both remain focused on the road while engaging their audience. Even if it’s just telling people what you had for breakfast that seems like a bit of a stretch; let alone doing something that requires a large amount of thought.

Anything that takes the drivers attention away from the road is surely a risk. Whether that’s informing your subscribers about a give away or changing the station on your car radio.

Regardless of that risk it seems that vlogging and driving is unlikely to become a legal concern unless it becomes far more widespread or a high profile accident sparks a public outcry.

In the absence of hard data that proves once and for all how dangerous it is, if at all, the debate will continue.

Filed under vlogging youtube driving online video youtube community

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Community Collectively Mourns Loss of Musician Nathan Wills

^ Photo credit meetinglife.com

On Friday the 27th of July musician and producer Nathan Wills committed suicide; among other things he provided instrumental and electronic backing music for YouTubers like Katers17 and SMPfilms.

That day he recorded his last piece of video content and sent out a whole host of messages to his friends. Many of them just saying hello.

Regardless of his motivations for what he did what has really come out of this is a sense of communal mourning and loss.

Tributes

A wide variety of YouTubers have paid tribute to him in video form since his death was announced. From those who were close friends with him to those who simply enjoyed his music and videos.

"To everyone else that’s watching this, Nathan Wills was a very kind person and if you can just send some love. We made videos together and a lot of you have heard his music in my videos so you know him." - Katers17

"Nathan Wills became like a brother to me over the years. He helped me through some of the hardest parts of my life and I was there for a lot of his hard times." - Cory Williams

"Nathan Wills was the person that always would cheer everyone up, he was always the most delightful charming peron that you could ever meet. He was always so friendly and I met him at the first yotube gathering that i ever went to and he made me feel like I was welcome" - Aly 

King of the Web

One of those friends, Sarah Parker, has taken that one step further by asking for support in King of the Webs Battle Royal Competition on his birthday  in an effort to raise money for Wills’ family.

"However, August 5th would have been his 31st birthday and as a tribute—and to show my support to his family—I would like to gain as many votes as possible on that day. In case I would win the daily prize, I would donate the money to his family"

"The YouTube community was really important to Nathan and I would like to see it come together to bring a final salute to his family"

So far the youth of the format and the people who use it has -with a few notable exceptions- insulated it from the reality of death.

The death of online personalities will inevitably become far more common as YouTube and the community that exists within and around it ages.

What doesn’t have to change however is the way that death is dealt with, with respect, compassion and the celebration of their work.

Especially the ways that that work has affected the people who watched and supported it.

Filed under nathan wills death suicide youtube online video katers17 cory williams smpfilms

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YouTube Partner Rewards Program Meets with Mixed Reception from Creators

^ The gold plated play button, reports of it going *ting* when looked upon are as of yet unconfirmed.

The new rewards system -which attendees of this years VidCon got a sneak peek at- was officially unveiled just over a week ago.

It consists of a gold plated play button for those who have reached at or above a total of 1,000,000 subscribers and the thing is framed in a way reminiscent of gold or platinum records.

There’s good stuff in here for the slightly less mammoth creators too. Those who have reached 100,000 subs get a 500 dollar gift card and a custom DSLR bag.

Awards

It’s actually not unusual for social media personalities and organizations to receive awards based within an online genre or even a single website. 

The Webby Awards are old as balls, rewarding internet peeps and businesses since 1995 and The Streamy Awards go one further.

They focus exclusively on web series; still a pretty small industry despite the large audience growth and acceptance into mainstream culture that it’s made in recent years.

What’s different about these rewards is that they’re given exclusively on the basis of numbers.

  

   

^ Look familiar?

Mixed Reception

The reception among big YouTubers has been largely positive and tends to break up into those who are still a bit too small to qualify for the gold and have a hungry look in their eyes.

"I want one, my house mate Charlie. He’s got a million subscribers. He just sits at his desk just across the room from me with his gold…plate….thing. I do just want to put more effort into my videos and make them more worthwhile" - Alex Day

and those who are grateful for the recognition but have some concerns

"I love it because it feels like a thank you…a thank you to the people who have invariably worked extremely hard to achieve that level of success. And it’s important for YouTube to recognize that those people play a large part in the success of YouTube" 

"The fact is that most of the people doing really interesting things, who have the most potential to grow, to change things, to continue altering the landscape of media, and who I am fascinated by do not have 1,000,000 subscribers" - Hank Green

"I’m flattered, since i am in the 100,000 category - but saddened by all the incredibly talented and hardworking people going un-thanked, the ones who don’t quite have that many subscribers but still make huge contributions to this community daily" - Kristina Horner

They aren’t the only ones to focus on the smaller channels.

Smaller Channels

One thing brought up repeatedly in the comments on the official announcement, on twitter and other sites where the discussion has taken place is that the awards do nothing for smaller partners and creators.

The awards themselves arent the main issue here however. It’s a sense of continued and growing frustration with YouTube -spawning movements like the #SaveYouTube campaign- its policies and the general attitude of the site as a whole.

A lot of the ways in which bigger creators got a leg up in the past simply don’t exist any more or have been redirected towards already popular channels.

Stuff like getting featured on the main page or appearing in the recommended videos section and although the community has gone a long way in picking up the slack there’s always going to be people who slip through the sizeable cracks.

Stabilisation

When taken together with things like the new London Creator Space and programs like YouTube Next Vlogger and NextUp a picture forms of a business trying to consolidate its gains and standardise skills and pathways to success in an industry where technical proficiency can vary from the profound to the mediocre.

It could well be a risky move, there’s a good chance it may simply limit creativity, create a stiff model for how creators should work and interact with their audience that could stunt them in the long term and make the industry even harder to break into.

Then again it might usher in a new generation of ultra-proficient creators while improving the already substantial profiles of the people who did it the old fashioned way.

Damned if I know, feel free to have your say though.

Filed under stealth mountain don't catch no journalists youtube rewards program youtube rewards youtube online video partner program youtube creators gold play button saveyoutube save youtube campaign hank green nerimon alex day kristina horner nextup next up next vlogger london creator space italktosnakes vlogbrothers charlieissocoollike charlie mcdonnel charliemcdonnell

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Mike Lombardo Arrested, Charged and Released Pending Trial

Five months ago YouTube musician Mike Lombardo became the subject of an FBI probe into allegations that he solicited nude video and photographs from underage fans and in turn sent them nude images of himself.

That probe has now come to a head with Lombardo being arrested on July 20th and charged with four counts relating to producing and receiving child pornography as well as coercing a person under the age of eighteen to engage in sexually explicit activity.

He was held for five days before being released under the conditions that he not use the internet, surrender his passport to the court, submit to a psychiatric evaluation, be electronically monitored, stick to a strict evening curfew and not have any contact with anyone under the age of eighteen.

December Raid

All of this began at the end of 2011 after 19 year old Deanna Archetto informed the FBI that a 15 year old fan had arranged with Lombardo to meet for a “sex liason” on new years eve.

Archetto was herself informed by a 17 year old girl referred to in the FBI affidavit as “Victim 2” who herself engaged in “sexually explicit discussions” with Lombardo.

An examination of the 15 year olds cell phone lead to the discovery of “multiple nude images of Lombardo” and “multiple explicit text messages”.

Using this to gain a search warrant the FBI conducted a raid on Lombardo’s apartment on December 30th and the subsequent search revealed video of a 14 year old girl masturbating “fully nude on a bed with her legs spread apart” on his laptop and video of a 16 year old masturbating on his cell phone.

Since then nothing has been seen or heard from Lombardo and he has not spoken out about what happened on any of his social networking accounts.

Jail Time

Should Lombardo be convicted the total amount of jail time he could face is hard to predict with the minimum sentence for each of the charges meaning anywhere from 5 to 15 years in prison (60 in total).

Ultimately a lot will depend on how he pleads and with many of the facts unknown any speculation is just that.

Community Reaction

An air of resignation and muted shock has pervaded the community reaction with many stating that this latest development had been expected for a long time and was “the natural conclusion” to the investigation.

In a tumblr post Vlogger thatzak said that

"What I can’t get over about all this is how much power someone with a mildly sizable audience can have and it’s really fucking frightening"

A lot of posts centered around the victims and it was stressed that people not forget them or allow them to be blamed for the actions of their alleged abuser. 

Leakynews editor and leakycon founder Melissa Anelli placed particular emphasis on that last bit

"There will be a lot said about this in the next few days. I want to say this. Blame these girls just once, even a little, and it’s probably best you (in this order) look up the definition of informed consent, unfollow me, and stop thinking about ever saying words to me"

Predictably, it happened anyway.

Regardless of how the trial plays out, with the extent of the evidence against him made public it would seem that his career in creating music for a young audience is dead and buried.

Filed under mike lombardo youtube online video

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VidCon: ‘Women on YouTube’ Panel Highlights Issues Female Creators Continue to Face

^ Left to right Laci Green, Hayley G Hoover, Lex Croucher, Kristina Horner, Rosianna Halse Rojas, Brittani Louise Taylor and Zadi Diaz (photo credit Jim Davidson)

One of the most popular panels and certainly one of the most talked about at this years VidCon was "Women On YouTube".

The high level of anonymity offered by the Internet often leads to problems that either aren’t encountered IRL or are masked by societal pressure. More commonly the second than the first.

It would be nice to think that all of the issues of old media were wiped clean when we entered the bright and shiny new world of online video circa 2006. Sadly the world dosen’t work that way.

Comments

The most visible problem is hateful and misogynistic YouTube comments and a 100% effective way of dealing with them has yet to be found. 

Many people counsel that creators should simply ignore them; others say this simply sweeps the problem under the carpet and normalizes unacceptable opinions and behaviour.

Regardless of the wider social implications it was agreed that YouTube’s current system of dealing with repeat offenders and the people who administer that system are ineffective. 

"I think that they aren’t taking it seriously enough to be frank, it’s a problem that they have a structure in place for but more people need to know how to use that structure and it also needs to be more effective because you know people can delete accounts and create new ones"

"I’m sure they’re all wonderful people but it’s just not working" - Rosianna Rojas

The Women Thing

One of the things pointed out by the panel is that only one out of the top ten most subscribed channels is run by a woman (JennaMarbles).

"So much of YouTube is already run primarily by men, when you look at the top most subscribed channels they are primarily men"

It’s not only how many people are watching that’s an issue though, it’s how they’re watching too.

"Even the women who are top subscribed people tend to think of them in a different category, Shane Dawson is a big deal but if you’re a make up guru or a beauty person that’s a different thing. That’s the women thing and I think as long as that’s still going on we need stuff like this to talk about [how] women can be comedians they can be writers they can talk about politics”- Hayley G Hoover

Dismissal

Something that was focused on in particular was an attitude of dismissal that women appear to recieve when talking about so called “hard issues” like politics, economics, news e.t.c.

"I think that politics is already something that is controvertial with the guys talking about it but if a woman’s talking about it she’s just a woman, [it’s assumed that] she doesn’t have a devoloped opinion or it’s not worth correcting her in the same way maybe that a news reporter would be corrected. It’s just a woman” - Rosianna Rojas

Stuff like this can be very hard to quantify and often relies on the anecdotal evidence of those who experience it or who take a particular interest in the phenomenon.

The solution is always the same however; the changing of attitudes on a large scale.

YouTube as a Tool

One of the biggest advantages to being a YouTube creator is that the entire site is effectively a platform to do just that.

"I think we really need a shift in how we think about these things. It’s not just about educating and having discussions with the people that i’m talking to on YouTube it’s in the hopes that people in my audience will feel empowered to take that out into their life and then they [others] will feel empowered to take that out into their life and we’ll start this ripple effect where people are being more critical and they’re loving themselves more they can love each other more and we can be a little more thoughtful”- Laci Green

When you take into account that much of the YouTube viewing audience is young this approach holds a lot of promise. Younger people are far more likely to change their opinions and once they have, to espouse those opinions to their peers.

One of the links in this article is booby trapped.

Filed under Laci Green Hayley G Hoover Lex Croucher Kristina Horner Rosianna Halse Rojas Brittani Louise Taylor Zadi Diaz women on youtube VidCon vidcon 2012 sexism misogyny feminism online video youtube gazette

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Gazette TV: ‘Squaresville’ Mid-Season Review

[This is a review of the web series alone and not the additional behind the scenes and Q&A videos that accompany it]

[Minor spoilers for episodes 1-8]

Yet another Kickstarter funded series (it’s quickly becoming the go to source of seed money for show creators with big dreams and empty pockets) Squaresville is a beautifully made exposition on growing up in a small town.

Setting

Probably the largest source of conflict within the narrative of the show is the small town setting and how the characters interact with it and feel about it.

There’s a lot of comparison between those who desperately want to break out of Squaresville so that they can seek adventure and new opportunities outside of the place of their birth and those who are content to stay and remain big fish in a little pond.

Online Audience

^ When you’re dealing with an online audience awesome fan art seems to become almost an inevitability.  

With the advent of the Internet young people no longer have to imagine what life is like outside of their communities; they can interact with people from all over the world whenever they want.

It can be both a blessing and a torment and one of the things it’s led to is an outpouring of wanderlust.

In an interview with Tubefilter show creator Matt Enlow said that 

“I started Squaresville because I wanted to make something that would resonate emotionally with the online audience”

"In an era of disposable entertainment, and distractions, it’s really challenging to make something sincere. The show is a comedy at its core, but the characters are facing universal issues"

Characters

It’s also clear that this show is in it for the long run; a large proportion of its episodes time is given over to simply allowing the audience to get to know the characters.

Zelda (played by The Lizzie Bennet Diaries' Mary Kate Wiles) and Esther (Kylie Sparks) are two teenage girls who've been friends for most of their lives. Their friendship and their friendships with other people are put to the test by the gaps between what each of them wants from life as they grow older.

While Zelda is very adventurous and eager to get out into the world it’s subtly inferred that maybe that isn’t what Esther wants from life.

How this affects their relationship is likely to become one of the driving forces of the show as it develops.

Comedy

The comedy comes from a very deep level within the show and there’s few outright jokes. 

Humorous situations develop naturally within the plot, nothing ever feels like it’s been specifically engineered to make you laugh so there’s never the chance for it to fall flat (writers for The Big Bang Theory take notes).

A lot of it is presented through the filter of being a misfit. When you see the problems of the richer, more popular characters you’re seeing them from the perspective of an outsider and that’s encouraged by the over the top way they’re played.

When you combine all of this with the clean aesthetic and carefully constructed atmosphere of empty parking lots, tree houses and bedroom floors it makes for an excellent viewing experience that I heartily recommend.

Filed under no seriously big bang theory writers your show is awful and exploitative and you should feel bad about yourselves Squaresville Mary Kate Wiles Kylie Sparks online video web series Matt Enlow youtube youtube gazette gazette tv

124 notes

VidCon: Shane Dawson and Maker Studios’ Kyle Mooney in Alleged Racist and Misogynistic Sets

^ Shane Dawson

Merely hours after a panel about digital diversity and racism on YouTube popular vlogger Shane Dawson and comedian Kyle Mooney (booked by Maker Studios) apparently put a decidedly bum note into what all agree was another three days of IRL online video awesome fun times.

Confusion

What particularly stands out about this incident is the sheer sense of confusion felt by those who were following the event [VidCon] online but who weren’t there themselves.

It was clear that something big and unpleasant had happened but very few people, if any, had any clear idea of what that was.

In the absence of such information they did what humans are unfortunately very good at doing; they took all the information they could gather at that moment and filled in the gaps with whatever seemed the most likely, namely that Dawson was booed off the stage when in fact he wasn’t.

However, there is still a lot of genuine controversy surrounding his set.

Chicken & Ghetto Jokes

Dawson apparently utilised cultural stereotypes typically associated with lower class black people in order to generate laughs. He is said to have gone on to poke fun at child abuse.

Criticism was levied not only at the content of his set but the people it was directed towards. Many felt that it was inappropriate for the younger audience that is present at VidCon.

“He [Dawson] had young girls go onstage and impersonate black women using the words “chicken” and “ghetto.” Multiple times. And made his usual pedophilia jokes. Extremely distasteful, worse than usual, and not appropriate for the audience there.”

In response many people made the point that it simply seemed that he had scaled up what he does in his videos anyway and seemed confused as to why others found it shocking.

Although whether this makes it acceptable behaviour is another matter entirely.

"There has been a big explosion of talk that Shane Dawson was really racist for his show at vidcon today

Is that really surprising when the guy rose to huge success doing that?”

Kyle Mooney

The part that really ignited widespread outrage and repugnance was the set of comedian Kyle Mooney; he allegedly made extremely misogynistic jokes and referred to female genitalia and sexual arousal in a very offensive way.

"The second guest was where the issue lay. I’m not going to go into specifics here, but his content was extremely offensive to anyone even remotely feminist, hugely mysoginistic and utterly indefensible. He was booed off stage, and left behind a shocked and angry crowd."

Others went further and described exactly what the set involved

"The second bit was a “comedian” that did a presentation called hooking up which was just offensive.

I left part way through after they put up the graph of how “wet” all the 300 girls he hooked up with this month got, saying they were all past the “wet and creamy” stage, so I didn’t see all of it. I know it was all a joke but I was creeped out and didn’t want to sit through that”

Again, it’s not just the content that many objected to but the timing and the audience it was performed in front of.

It’s widely accepted that there was a warning that the material was mature and unsuitable for children but that seems a poor defence within the context of VidCon itself; the conference’s image is presented as child and young person friendly.

The sets were also played close together so it’s extremely likely that someone there to see George Watsky or SourceFed would also see everything else that played at the concert.

Community Disgust

A whole host of prominent content creators led an outpouring of disgust on twitter, some of it seems to have been directed towards both Dawson and Mooney / just Mooney while most is aimed at Dawson alone; probably because of his higher profile  within the community.

Response

^ Oh my Mr Dawson *fans self* your ribald humour, pop culture reference and eloquent defence of your content have swayed my heart AND mind.

There has yet to be any kind of response or statement from the social networking accounts of Kyle Mooney and Shane Dawson’s response, well, it…it pretty much speaks for itself.

Or it would if I had enough self control to not caption it in bold.

Regardless of whether this incident blows up or quietly drifts into obscurity it seems inevitable that the Green brothers will be looking a lot more closely at the sets they allow to perform when VidCon swings around next year.

[Disclaimer: I was not at VidCon, this article is based on statements from people who were there and have described the events in detail through their own posts online and those who have submitted their experience in strict confidence and who wish to remain anonymous. 

I have cross checked and researched all of this as thoroughly as possible. Some of the quotations have been edited for brevity]

Filed under VidCon Shane Dawson main stage racism sexism racial slurs misogyny Kyle Mooney Maker Studios John Green Hank Green Vlogbrothers online video hayley g hoover

80 notes

YouTubers Reject Traditional Media, Sort Of

^ An attractive idea, sure, but will it blend?

Following the recent high profile adaptation of the “Annoying Orange” web series to cartoon network you could be forgiven for thinking that YouTubers were lining up around the block to have their content featured on the screen that -for better or worse- still dominates the worlds consumption of audio-visual media. 

Just this week, however, the people behind two of the most influential YouTube channels Hank and John Green of VlogBrothers and Alex Day of Nerimon have individually spoken out about their reasons for rejecting TV and major record labels respectively.

Creative Freedom

In a tumblr post John Green explained why the Vlogbrothers had never made a television show 

A lot of it boils down to the limited creative freedom offered; often you’re working with other peoples money and unless you have a track record paved with melted down emmy awards they’re going to want a say in how it’s spent.

Despite the fact that they may have next to no knowledge in what does or doesn’t succeed.

"In one conversation with an anonymous cable network, an exec said to us, Crash Course would be PERFECT if you were a little less nuanced and stuck to topics that interest people. Like, you know, Hitler and sex.”

Even the creator of Annoying Orange Dane Boedigheimer has no illusions about the rigidity of the development process in network television

"If we’d taken this to a traditional network we’d still be talking about ‘Who’s gonna play Annoying Orange?’ and ‘How do we make him less annoying?’"

Day in particular has no love for the behemoth of traditional media; his recent crusade against the major labels in the form of chart success has been well publicised.

Community

Another massive factor for YouTubers is the effect any projects might have on their communities of viewers and/or listeners. 

"if we were on TV, I worry we’d lose that sense of connection, which Hank and I have enjoyed so much the last five and a half years. Like, the Sherlock fandom and the Doctor Who fandom are great communities, but they are about Sherlock and Doctor Who. Nerdfighteria isn’t about Hank or me”

The ability of viewers to comment on videos, to read the tweets and tumblr posts of people whose content they enjoy and then be able to respond and have them respond back is something traditional media simply can’t compete with.

Albums Are Dead

Even the formatting of some forms of media are coming under question; In a somewhat less than critical article by Forbes Magazine Day says

"Albums are dead as far as I can tell. The concept of an album seems redundant when you can cherry-pick any individual track you like on iTunes anyway. Putting out singles means each song has its own artwork and its own video; it gets its time to shine"

Singles are certainly a stronger format than albums. In 2011 sales of singles rose for the fourth successive year in the UK 177.9 million copies, versus 86.6 million in 2007.

However, it’s seems unlikely that the desire to blend a group of songs into a creative whole greater than the sum of its parts will ever really go away.

The true fans will always enjoy listening to an album the whole way through, listening out for common themes and tones of emotion and discussing them with others.

Whether they do that on a laptop at 3am while browsing tumblr or listening to a 12” vinyl in a dark and smoky room is kind of superfluous.

 

^ Are big studio albums like Abbey Road a thing of the past?

Risk

There’s also the small matter of YouTubers quite reasonably thinking “well, why should I?”. You don’t find yourself in a phone conversation with a high level exec unless you’ve already gained a large amount of success already.

In a time of increasing competition in an already crowded marketplace dividing your attention and creative energies could be a fatal move. 

There’s always the chance that you could alienate your current subscriber base and gain almost nothing for your efforts.

The Future

So are we going to see YouTubers increasingly collaborating with the giants of traditional media or are they going to stick with what they know?

More of both probably.

Some will decide to steer clear of traditional media and the people who control it regardless of how many lucrative deals are dangled under their collective nose; others will embrace it wholeheartedly.

It’s likely that most however will decide purely on a case by case basis, cherry picking the opportunities that appeal to them.

In that case the gatekeepers of the TV and music industries are going to have to work a lot harder and be a lot more flexible if they want to infuse their industries with the creative energy that abounds on sites like YouTube.

I swear to god if I have to type the words “traditional media” one more time I’m going to hack my hands off with a rusty penknife.

Your Editor

John Mortimer.

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