Over the past 2 or 3 years we’ve watched various YouTube “celebrities” go from controversy to controversy with impunity and without remorse for their actions beyond an insincere “I’m sorry I got caught” apology that is designed to deflect blame from themselves.YouTubers seemingly think that they can do whatever they like in the name of making money. There have been a number of avenues that have already been exploited on a global scale; from TMartin and ProSyndicate exploiting their community and their position of power by advertising a gambling website that they “had just found” but did in fact own. Pewdiepie and various others being rightfully held to account for making racist, sexist or downright offensive “jokes” to cyber bullying, cases of public nudity and of course sex acts on camera.
It’s a Wild West and they are the sheriffs, outlaws and citizens! They believe that they make the rules, push the boundaries and these people truly believe that they shouldn’t be held to account for what they say or how they behave. They must genuinely think they are untouchable – God forbid that anyone challenge them on this stance; because they will band together to attack a common foe.
Recently multiple foes have emerged and are challenging YouTubers on a number of levels – the mainstream media and advertisers. Now, in the eyes of these internet personalities, it is all out war and they are holding nothing back in their scathing attacks on the media and Wall Street Journal (WSJ) in particular. On several occasions H3H3, Scarce and Drama Alert have led their fans to the twitter accounts of journalists by momentarily flashing a screenshot of their accounts during their videos. Of course they’d deny this, but that’s exactly what they do. It’s childish, it’s borderline incitement and it is God damn irresponsible!
Since the WSJ ran with the story about Pewdiepie and Fiverr they have become public enemy number one on YouTube; they further stoked this fire with their coverage of JonTron’s undefendable racism and most recently by highlighting the issues with YouTube advertising and hate speech. These actions (journalism) has seen many of the big YouTubers digging the trenches and fostering an environment of ‘us vs them’. They have created a siege mentality that runs through the website, portraying themselves as the victims of the huge corporate news machine that is attempting to steam roll them because they feel threatened by the power of these ‘influencers’ who sit at the forefront of the “new media”.
I’ve seen the demonization of the “mainstream media” and the creation of the new term “the old media” – these are interchangeable terms that are also synonyms for ‘untrustworthy’. While I’m not against teaching children to be critical and to question what they read, watch or hear – this is a lesson that must be applied across all media without exception – it is here that these YouTubers fall flat. They expect and encourage their audiences to blindly believe their every word. When someone speaks out/highlights issues/challenges their positions they respond through ridicule, deletion/disabling of videos and/or comments or through “it was a joke bro” – these people do NOT want to be held up to the same standards, they claim, to hold others to.
If these people truly wanted “integrity” they would hold themselves up for scrunity and judgement. If this is something they truly want then ProSyndicate would not be able commit fraud on a global level and be able to dodge punishment by remaining silent; Pewdiepie would not be able to make irresponsible jokes and cower behind feeble excuses such as “context” or “they’re out to get me”. And these are just major incidents; there have been countless other times YouTubers have been paid to give a product a good review and they have failed to disclose that it was paid advertisement! It’s absurd that these people are, in any way, being held up as the bastions of integrity and fair play; many of them are deceitful liars who move from scandal to scandal with nary a slap on the wrist and it makes me sick to the stomach.
Literal millionaires are being made on the back of shifty deals, half-truths and the exploitation of normal, hardworking people.
This month the WSJ, reportedly, alerted major advertisers that their brands were being shown on YouTube videos that were racist, full of hate speech or sexist – this resulted in huge companies withdrawing their advertisements and costing YouTubers a fortune in ad revenue. As a result of this I’ve watched countless different YouTubers (as well as thousands of others) attempt to discredit the WSJ and many other “old media” outlets on the basis of integrity and hypocrisy.
If this ‘war’ is not about integrity then what is it about?
Well if you couldn’t work it out by now it’s about money, power and influence.
Mainstream Media has had a monopoly on these three things for over a century and suddenly; with the explosion of YouTube’s popularity, that monopoly is suddenly under threat.
YouTubers on the other hand have become much more influential than the “old media” (PDP has more subscribers than the entirety of the UK printed media does) as well as have had a taste of monetary success and they want more; they are not willing to lose even a percentage to anyone else. Success on YouTube is measured in two things, subscriber count and money – there is nothing else to consider.
By alerting advertisers to how their brands are being associated with these Youtubers and their questionable messages, the WSJ has made itself some very powerful enemies who will stop at nothing to destroy it.
Whether or not they will succeed is impossible to predict. While YouTube certainly has the audience, the “old media” have all the connections and power – it’ll come down to whose will is stronger or who is willing to stoop to the lowest level…
…if history is anything to go by – I reckon that’ll be the YouTubers…
Whats your take on the whole situation?
Are YouTubers really looking for journalistic integrity, or are they after the money and power?
Tell me your thoughts in the comments/facebook/twitter.