A first year English department student.
Recording personal lives and uploading it to the video-sharing and streaming website Youtube, many content creators (or vloggers, as many would label) such as; Logan Paul, Shane Dawson, and many others rose to fame with this idea content called ‘Vlogs’. Vlog (or vlogging) derived from the English word combination of ‘video’ and ‘blog’ and the coined term became popular in 2005, during Youtube’s early days from becoming the most popular video sharing and streaming website (Maslanka, 2017). Vloggers are making a living by exposing their daily routines in their video blogs, some went even further to expose every bit of their lives down to their private and family matters. As vlogging becoming even more popular, this begs the question; is it okay for people to film or record anything they want? If not, what would be the consequences? As entertaining vlogging might be for the viewers, there are still limits as to how much one can create for the public as they may lead to unforeseen, controversial situations.
A vlog basically means a retelling of the content creator’s daily lives, where viewers can watch their favorite content creators going through their days (Maslanka, 2017). Vlogging is relatively family-friendly for the most part, viewers are just watching their favorite YouTubers doing mundane things just like normal people do. This raises the question as to; what makes vlogging so interesting? Turns out the reasons are quite simple. These vlogging channels are doing things that normal people do, which makes them ‘relatable’ for the viewers. Unlike traditional celebrities, these vloggers are showing their normal lives as ‘normal people’. Traditional celebrities gained their popularity through traditional channels, like; attending radio or TV shows, doing magazine photoshoots, and so much more. At most, fans can look into the shallow waters of their favorite celebrities’ lives through social media and their works (movies, music, etcetera) (A., 2020). On the other hand, Youtubers utilizes the platform to their advantage: by creating a bond with their audience. They are easy to reach out to, with Youtube providing comment sections as a way for the creators and their viewers to connect (and also social media like Twitter and Instagram). Vlogs are also quite low-maintenance, vloggers just need to have a basic understanding of video editing, a camera (or a phone), and an interesting personality to keep the viewers entertained. These reasons quite justify why vlogging content is quite addictive to some, but what happens when these vloggers cross the line?
One such case of a vlogger crossing the line is Logan Paul. Logan Paul is a Youtube vlogging channel with over twenty-three million followers (as of 2021). He does some questionable pranks at most, doing extreme stunts to gain ‘clout’ that are successfully directed towards his young audience who prefers exciting content like his, which garnered him fame and wealth in his twenties. Sadly and understandably though, one scandal caused him to lose the support he amassed over the years. That incident is known as the ‘Japan Suicide Video’, where Logan Paul visited the renowned Aokigahara Forest in Japan (BBC, 2018), infamously known for being the place where suicidal people take their own lives. He, along with his friends, visited the forest for a ‘haunting experience’, to which he came face to face with an actual dead body. The video got him on Youtube’s trending page, that was until many people voiced their complaints and criticized over how unsuitable the video was (especially for his younger audience) and also his misconducts towards the victim’s body (walking close to the victim’s body, zooming in and cracking improper jokes, all recorded and published to Youtube) (BBC, 2018). This caused heavy backlash for Logan Paul which prompted him to take down the video and voiced his apologies over the whole mess he caused. He also had to face his consequences; he was taken down from the Google Preferred Program (a Youtube program that allows advertisers to place their ads on popular videos, usually the ad revenue is higher than normal ads).
Another case would be the popular vlogging-slash-documentary style channel by the name of Shane Dawson. Occasionally dubbed as the ‘King of Youtube’, Dawson had amassed over twenty million subscribers on Youtube. He was known for his long documentary-style vlogs and many believed him to be unproblematic. Following the feud scandal he had with his former YouTuber friends, many discovered Dawson’s problematic character as they dug up his past videos. His misconducts resurfaced on the internet, one instance is his racist remarks and minstrel shows. Old videos of Dawson were uncovered, showing Dawson using racial slurs and dressing up in a stereotypical black fashion (body painted in black paint and dressing up as both stereotypical black woman and man ‘fashion’) (Madani, 2020). His actions greatly contributed to the normalization of racism towards the black community, which caused outrage from the obvious black community and many netizens who are in support of equality and those who are against segregation. Shane Dawson had to face the consequences as Youtube demonetized (creators losing the ability to earn revenue from advertisements) his account and he had to disappear from the public eye to reflect on his past actions (Madani, 2020).
As a final point, it is important for future, aspiring vloggers to plan out their vlogs carefully. As entertaining vlogging might be, vloggers have to realize the severity of their misconducts as it might lead them to face heavy consequences. Vlogging content should be exciting and enjoyable to keep the viewers entertained, but vlogs should still be well within the boundaries of ‘family-friendly’ whilst still staying true and relatable for the audience and to the vloggers themselves. Vlogs can still be enjoyable without excessive stunts or pranks, that is if the vlogger knows how to direct their vlog entertainingly. Vlogs can also be educational or motivational, although the direction of where the vlogs are headed solely depends on the creator. But to make it simple; the most important is that vloggers should know when to stop vlogging before it comes to biting them back in the end.
A., Will. (2020). 7 Reasons Why Vlogging Is So Popular. Retrieved fromhttps://vloggerpro.com/why-vlogging-is-so-popular/#:~:text=is%20the%20key-,1.,lives%20with%20the%20entire%20internet.
BBC. (2018). YouTube punishes Logan Paul over Japan suicide video. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-42644321
Madani, Doha. (2020). Shane Dawson demonetized on YouTube amid reckoning for racist videos, beauty guru drama. Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/shane-dawson-demonetized-youtube-amid-reckoning-racist-videos-beauty-guru-n1232584
Maslanka, Michelle. (2017). The Vlog Blog: History of Vlogging. Retrieved fromhttps://www.motionsource.com/blog/the-vlog-blog-history-of-vlogging#:~:text=Speaking%20of%20YouTube%2C%20vlogging%20saw,video%20sharing%20site%20to%20date.
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