I made a video for the last day of April. Just in case y’all wanted an update on the important things in my life as of right now.
“Harry Potter isn’t real? Oh no! Wait, wait, what do you mean by real? Is this video blog real? Am I real if you can see me and hear me, but only through the internet? Are you real if I can read your comment but I don’t know who you are or what your name is or where you’re from or what you look like or how old you are? I know all of those things about Harry Potter. Maybe Harry Potter’s real and you’re not.”
- John Green, ladies and gentlemen!
There are few things in this world that make me happier and feel less alone than watching YouTubers and their videos.
The Market Revolution: back when economics was actually interesting.
THIS. IS. INFURIATING.
I know that Good Morning America isn’t news, I know that they don’t matter, and I know that it doesn’t matter what they think about online video. But after watching this puffy hatchet job, I could not not post about it. Let’s just go through this point by point.
- Jenna Marbles is the “Queen of Clicks.”
This is a seemingly innocuous phrase, but it’s indicative of the attitude here, making Jenna’s success not about the significance of what she does, but about a meaningless activity that other people do “clicking.” It removes all significance from the interaction people have with Jenna. This is what we call a backhanded compliment.
- “So Many teens and tweens hanging on her every word.”
This is GMA’s attempt at attempting to make this story relevant to the people (moms) who watch their show. Except they miss the point that MOST OF THOSE MOMS WATCH JENNA MARBLES! They have no idea…NO IDEA of Jenna’s reach because (apparently) they have NEVER USED AN INTERNET.
- Which is pretty insane considering that apparently she has “over a billion followers” on YouTube.
This is a fact that can be checked and found wanting with a very limited understanding of reality (never mind the internet) since only 750 million people in the world SPEAK ENGLISH. So unless /everyone/ who understands her “follows” her, your stat is deeply incorrect (which this is, she has a billion views, not a billion followers.)
- “She may just be the most famous person you’ve never heard of.”
Another backhanded compliment.
- Next we compare her facebook to JLaw and her instagram to Oprah…more attempts to connect with the issues moms in America really care about.
- “And all for making videos about, well, nothing.”
REALLY?! DID YOU WATCH ANY OF THE VIDEOS?! First, comedy doesn’t have to be about something. But more importantly, Jenna’s videos aren’t about nothing, they’re about culture and sexism and growing up. Hiding in amongst all that “nothing” are often poignant insights.
And now we arrive at the interview portion, which is the most frustrating for me, and has to be much worse for Jenna. They intersperse Jenna’s comments with the most inane and out of context clips they can find, and then ask Jenna a total of TWO QUESTIONS.
1. What does it feel like to get a bunch of views? Which is innocuous.
…and the kicker…
2. Do you think you deserve to have as many fans as you do?
Which is just…makes me…on fire…flames!
The only way to ask that question is if you, as an interviewer, have made your mind up that the person does NOT deserve their success. And in the end, that’s how the entire segment feels to me, a bunch of people making fun of a creator who they are threatened by and who they do not understand. And of course they’re threatened by it, Jenna Marbles (on her own, with a cheap camera) can make a video that gets more viewed by more people than an episode of Good Morning America.
Instead of talking about anything interesting or criticizing Jenna for legitimate reasons (which they could have done) GMA spent five minutes making fun of one of the most influential creators that exists in the world right now. But what’s worse is they didn’t make fun of her for legitimate reasons, they made fun of her for NOT MATTERING…for not being important…for being a meaningless cultural blip that they’re certain will just disappear. You wanna talk about something ridiculous…it’s you GMA.
Again, I don’t care that GMA doesn’t care about online video. I’m happy flying under the cultural radar for another few years, doing interesting things without legacy media paying attention (or, even with them actively attempting to marginalize us.) But I couldn’t watch this load of BS without commenting on it.
So Jenna, while I don’t agree with everything you’ve ever said, you absolutely deserve your success. You are innovative, intelligent, and hilarious. GMA is acting like you’re the new girl in school that all the cute boys like better than them and, guess what, you are.
TL;DR - GMA ran a mean-spirited, blatantly incorrect, five-minute hatchet job that completely misunderstands one one of the most influential and intelligent creators of media in America.
I do not claim to know everything about online video - I average about 10 views for every one of my videos, so I have absolutely no understanding of what it means to form a community online - BUT, I am an active participant in many online communities, and so I have a much better perspective on the internet than Good Morning America or any other form of traditional media will ever have. I am not a general fan of Jenna, but my opinion doesn’t negate the fact that she deserves credit for her work.
And I proudly agree with Hank, as I sit here in my CTFxC “Internet Killed Television” shirt, purchased from DFTBA Records, a wonderful independent merch shop that showcases and sells work from many talented internet artists, educational shows, and web series. And I love this under the radar, underappreciated community.
Hayley knows me so well.
I started listening to Sloppy Seconds again last night, and then today found a brand new music video waiting for me in my YouTube sub box. It’s absolutely gorgeous.
Watsky gives me goosebumps. Every single time.