By Meg Sharma
At the start of 2018, youtubers, especially ‘daily vloggers’ were at the forefront of conversation, in particular self-proclaimed ‘maverick’ Logan Paul. After uploading a video called ‘We Found a Body in the Suicide Forest…’ Paul received extreme backlash from other youtubers and even international news outlets, but little backlash was seen from his fans. This came after his brother, ex-Disney star and ‘daily vlogger’ Jake Paul came into legal trouble with his neighbours earlier in 2017 after making his address public, causing fans to crowd on his street. The brothers are only one example of the many youtubers whose priorities are money and fame, and exploit their fans in the process.
Young teenagers or children having obsessions is normal, however, YouTube as a platform facilitates a creator-fan dynamic that can be taken advantage of. ‘Daily vloggers’ in Logan Paul’s words make a ’15-minute TV show every single day’. The videos show fans what they’re doing in that day, talking to a camera in a way that almost feels face to face. They usually have a name for their fan base, for example Logan and Jake Paul call their fans the ‘Logang’ and ‘Jake Paulers’, making the fans seem like an integral part of the youtuber’s channel and everything they do. This is true to some extent; a youtuber who makes ‘daily vlogging’ their career needs constant support from their fans to make money from their videos. However, this means fans often believe that youtubers care about them to an extent where they feel they are friends with the youtuber, that they can rely on them, and that they need to do everything they can to support them or they risk being a ‘true fan’.
It isn’t uncommon for youtubers to release branded merchandise which is unaffordable for many. This was highlighted in the lead up to Christmas, when Zoella’s ‘12 days of Christmas’ advent calendar was criticised for its £50 price tag which did not match the product. Many pointed out that parents who are in a difficult financial situation would be pressured into buying the calendar for children who do not understand. Jake and Logan Paul are amongst the worst for pushing their own merchandise, even writing songs that can be bought on iTunes with lyrics such as ‘Christmas around corner, get your merch (link in bio)’ and ‘Spend a hundred dollars, free shippin y’all’. They are money hungry, and even make this clear in their videos, by flaunting their earnings and bragging about new Rolexes and cars.
This of course doesn’t apply to all youtubers, but measures can be put in place to help young people make conscious decisions about supporting them. Parents, older siblings, or even teachers need to start having conversations about youtubers and the impacts they have on young people’s lives. After Logan Paul’s video was released, many fans struggled to see what he did wrong and even if they did, their support was relentless. This could easily be prevented by having a conversation about the responsibility of youtubers, the morality of their actions and the position of power they have over their fans. It isn’t an easy conversation to have, but an important one in a world where youtube is so prominent.