When I was writing Fangirl Correspondent, I did a post about Youtube and the rise of the so-called “Youtube Celebrity”. In that post, I mentioned Becoming Youtube, a 12 part documentary series by Benjamin Cook exploring the world of Youtube and what it takes to be “crazy internet famous”. I can’t even put into words how amazing of a series it’s been so far, so honestly, just go watch it. Its latest episode, just below, had me teary and also cheering at my laptop.
What an episode. So many interesting points. On the one hand, you have people with a platform that would enable them to help those in need and charitable causes by spreading certain messages, that may not necessarily use it for such purposes. On the other hand, you have other people, viewers, who could also help people in need and charitable causes, but would much rather send gifts and the like to their favourite Youtubers.
Ben’s monologue. Ugh, BEN’S MONOLOGUE <3
Jack Howard, one of the Youtubers featured in the series, wrote a blog post regarding the episode of Becoming Youtube, and noted:
“In the episode Ben performs a wonderful monologue addressing his frustrations with YouTube. Yes, it was exaggerated…a bit…but the points were incredibly valid. It is refreshing to see someone openly and fearlessly take that stance. Ben explores the nature of the typical YouTube audience, “most of you would rather send presents to your favourite YouTubers than you would to your own family…you’d sooner ship KickThePj and AmazingPhil.” Ben’s claims sound quite radical but you’re all following aren’t you? You understand the point he’s making? It might have even captivated you. But it appears that viewers are fickle. But where’s the proof?
The next skit features myself. It’s a witty fun little back and forth before the punchline in which Ben and I kiss each other goodbye. As soon as this happens, most viewers forgot what the point was and just saw TWO BOYZ MAKIN OUT OMG OMG IM SCREAMING.
… But what Ben has perfectly accomplished with this episode is a case study of ‘fan girl culture’. It’s depressing how accurate Ben’s accusations were. The response has perfectly mirrored it.
I know this doesn’t apply to all of you, I know a lot of you are smart and I appreciate that. But not all of you are smart. Some of you are fucking goldfish.”
For me, the term “fangirling” is a reference to me getting over-excited about anything at all. Even the “typical” fangirl topics such as boybands or indeed, Youtubers. However, I also “fangirl” over new non-profit causes I’ve discovered, or books that I’ve read or food that I eat. I just tend to have an overly enthusiastic nature.
However, as Ben identified and Jack mentioned, there is a real fangirl culture that is almost the dark side of being an overly enthusiastic fan. It’s the demanding side, it’s the expectant side, it’s the obsessing over the world beyond the content side with things like shipping and all that stuff. Sure enough, upon scrolling through the YT comments on this latest episode, I found a lot of “OMG THEY KISSED” and “I SHIP IT, I TOTALLY SHIP IT” in amongst the hate comments and those that were just genuinely confused. The thing about the internet is that sarcasm and irony don’t tend to translate particularly well, so I can’t tell if the all-caps commentors are trying to be amusing or genuinely just missed the entire point of the episode and are reacting exactly the way Ben said they would.
There’s a fine line between identifying flaws in a culture and offending the people in the culture; sometimes it’s not a fine line and those things go hand in hand. When its the fangirl culture of the internet, and you’re presenting these observations (some may call them attacks, but I personally consider them to be rather impassioned observations) directly to the members of that culture in their own environment (in this case, a Youtube video featuring many people they are familiar with and in many cases quite fond of), that’s when it suddenly becomes something on a much deeper level.
Also, bit of a sidenote, but I was watching Musical Bethan’s latest video and at the time I was watching, the two top comments were just UGH I HATE PEOPLE SOMETIMES. One was the eloquent “Pretty sure you and Dean are bangin’.” (or something along those lines), and then the other was about her breasts. If I’m perfectly honest, Bethan does have lovely breasts, but there is a lot more to her than her boobs or who she may or may not be engaging in sexual relations with. Also, the latter is definitely none of anyone’s business, so yeah. What happened to the days where people commented with thoughtful, insightful things? Are those days gone forever?
Sorry for the long post, but Becoming Youtube is honestly one of my favourite things to exist on the internet, mostly because it’s made me reconsider my favourite things on the internet, if that makes sense. It’s made me angry and sad and happy all at once. If that makes me a fangirl full of emotions then I guess I am a fangirl full of emotions. I may as well embrace it. Also, the song at the end of the episode is lovely.
Have a nice day! x