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Youtube: The Underestimated Powerhouse of Entertainment

Natasha Kohli

Natasha Kohli

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The fourth annual Streamy Awards, an award show similar to the Golden Globes in its dress code and atmosphere, but completely different in its focus, centered on still developing, less A-list celebrity-infested forms of media, like Youtube, took place this past Sunday, September 7th, 2014 from 7:30 P.M. to 10:00P.M.

To most of you, this award program probably had no significance or meaning.

However, though they do not have anywhere near the name recognition of movie or TV show stars, unbeknownst to many people, Youtube celebrities, or “Youtubers”, actually do exist. And the Streamy Awards are among the numerous organizations catching on to that fact.

Earlier this year, on August 10th, the Teen Choice Awards took place. This year, several new categories were added to the list of awards, including “Choice Web Star: Female”, “Choice Web Star: Male”, “Choice Web Star: Comedy”, and many more. Over half of the new categories honored Youtubers.

The inclusion of Youtubers in such award shows is an indication of the meteoric rise of the free, easily accessible form of social media. With accounts created by countless people ranging from children to elders worldwide, Youtube has gained a massive group of users and consequently, made a name for itself in the world of entertainment and social media. With the rise in popularity of the website itself, came the rise in popularity of its users. Not a decade after its creation, several Youtubers have hit subscriber counts in the septuple digits, with the current highest subscriber count belonging to Pewdiepie at over thirty million subscribers.

Despite these massive numbers and the website’s widespread use, the concept of a Youtube celebrity is foreign to most people today, including the “original” users of Youtube, that is, people who created accounts back when the website was first developed. This is largely due to the fact that “Youtubing” is considered a hobby, not an actual respectable job.

Youtube is essentially television’s younger, less organized, less cutthroat, less restrictive, more liberal sibling. At its core, it is basically the same as television; both fields involve a creative person who or group of creative people that works to create a product intended to entertain viewers and, depending on how successful they are, get paid for it. Nonetheless, in no way is Youtube as respected as television. Such a comparison would be like comparing television to movies—oh, how Tina Fey and Amy Poehler would appreciate that analogy—, or the winner of a middle school science fair to the winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Oprah, a veteran in the world of television, is a household name, but Nigahiga, a veteran in the world of Youtube, is not.

But fans of Youtube could care less about what the rest of the world thinks, or doesn’t, for that matter, about their beloved Youtubers. For many frequent viewers of Youtube, the people they subscribe to are role models, and even idols. They take great amounts of offense from any comment of hate directed toward their favorite Youtube stars and go to great lengths to defend them, displaying uncannily strong loyalty to people they have never met in person.

Why do many fans get so attached to the Youtubers they subscribe to? The answer to this question is what has made Youtube become so successful. The answer to this question is direct communication between stars and their fans.

Youtubers can read the comments left by their viewers. They can respond to them by using them and taking them into account by granting requests or taking suggestions. Youtubers and their viewers can directly communicate with each other, thereby forming a personal relationship. Through such communication, viewers connect to the person they watch. They not only create content the entirety of their viewers can relate to, but take the time and effort to keep each of them hooked by interacting with some individually. Similar to an actual relationship, through each interaction with each viewer, Youtubers slowly develop a bond with them, gaining their respect, admiration, trust, and loyalty. The relationship between Youtubers and viewer has become so powerful and influential, as their viewers look them upon with such respect and adoration, that companies are now partnering with Youtubers to advertise their products.

Such powerful personal bonds are something the people of television cannot produce. Their relationship with their viewers is surface level, nothing more than a feeble bond that stems from the viewer’s desire to be entertained for a brief hour or so.

In this sense, Youtubers are more powerful than movie or TV show stars can ever be. To users of Youtube, this is old news. The rest of the world is just starting to catch on.

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