YOUTUBE CELEBRITIES HAVE NO STAKE IN YOUTUBE

MAIN BLOG POST: WEEK 9 (a)

Burgess and Green argue that: ordinary people who become celebrities through their own creative efforts ‘remain within the system of celebrity native to, and controlled by the mass media’ (Reader, Page 269)

Theresa Senft defines micro-celebrity as personalities on the web that attains popularity through managing their selves on social networking sites, videos and blogs.

Micro-celebrity involves viewing friends or followers as a fan base; acknowledging popularity as a goal; managing the fan base using a variety of affiliative techniques; and constructing an image of self that can be easily consumed by others (Senft: 2008, 25).

Youtube’s version of micro-celebrities like the personalities behind the channels kevjumba, WongFuProductions, communitychannel, and charice are part of discourse of amateur video translating into media fame and success. Their success however does not prove to be substantial till they make the crossover to traditional mass media which validates Burgess and Green’s argument that these micro-celebrities ‘remain within the system of celebrity native to, and controlled by the mass media’ (2009, 23).

Micro-celebrity on Youtube do not reap the profits that the site gains. For example, in 2006, Google bought over Youtube for $1.65 billion (google-buys-youtube-billion) but the micro-celebrities did not get a share of that profit considering that they are the ones that drive traffic, provide the content for the sustenance of the site. They do not have a stake in the medium in which the fame is built on. From here it is evident that Youtube is a platform where personalities use to advertise and manage themselves to the online community but still rely on traditional mass media in achieving real celebrity status in the mass public. They still have to seek the traditional media for a source of income.

The micro-celebrity rely on talent scouts to gain the opportunity of launching themselves to fame into the mass media realm. A famous example is Charice Pempengco, a singer with Youtube video hits of 13 million, who was subsequently featured on Oprah’s Show (Teen-Singing-Sensation) in which she was given the opportunity to sing with her idol, Celine Dion. After her debut on the mass media, Charice was given the opportunity to produce and record her own label and later, guest star in famous TV musical series, Glee.


Snippets of Charice on Glee. (Credits to Charicematic)

Contrary to Youtube’s ideologies for democratisation of the media, the celebrities that it produces are not a representation of that but rather they encapsulate the traditional media’s sense of celebrity and it conforms all micro-celebrity into the mainstream media. Youtube merely provides the discourse of the promise of the leap to fame into the mass media. It remains a platform for individuals to showcase their talent, and work collaboratively to create amateur videos but ultimately, the recording contract, the live shows, the television appearance, essentially the debut on the mainstream media is the marker of official celebrity status for the micro-celebrity. At the end of the day much of their fame is still managed by the traditional media.

(457 words)

References

1.Burgess, J and Green, J. (2009) ‘YouTube and the mainstream media’, YouTube: Online and Participatory Culture, Cambridge: Polity Press, 15-37.

2. Senft, T. (2008) Camgirls: Celebrity and Community in the Age of Social Networks. New York: Peter Lang.

3. Google buys Youtube for $1.65 Billion, (2006), <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15196982/ns/business-us_business/t/google-buys-youtube-billion/&gt;, accessed on 25 May 2011.

4. Charice bio, <www.charicemusic.com/bio/>, accessed on 23 May 2011.

5. Teen Singing Sensation, (2009), <http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Teen-Singing-Sensation_1&gt;, accessed on 25 May 2011.

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