Are YouTubers Really Celebrities?
- Anita Nkadi
With YouTube's 10th anniversary looming, Anita looks at the culture of vlogging and whether vloggers should be considered celebrities
February 14th isn’t just Valentine’s Day – it marks YouTube’s 10th anniversary (yes, that means YouTube is a decade old!). Since the launch of the video sharing site in 2005, so much has changed. The founders of YouTube, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim intended to make a friendly site for ordinary people to upload and share their homemade videos. So how is it that YouTube and its not-so-ordinary vloggers, beauty gurus and gamers have become so popular, so much so that people are even beginning to refer to them as ‘celebrities’?
Now when you hear the word celebrity, what’s the first thing you think of? Personally, I think a celebrity is someone who’s always in the limelight, making money from whatever job they do, whether it’s playing a role in a TV show or even working in the sports industry – it’s very simple to distinguish a celebrity from the average Joe. But when it comes to YouTubers, it’s difficult to give them any label – are they just normal people like ourselves, sharing their lives with us via the internet? Do they deserve to be called celebrities?
Some may believe that YouTubers fit into the celeb world due to the simple fact that they gain an income from posting videos online. Everyday fans approach them asking them to sign merchandise or if they could have a picture. Isn’t that something you’d do in the case of meeting, I don’t know, One Direction?!
I asked one of my friends, Shayla, for her opinion on whether she sees YouTubers as celebrities and she said: “I guess everyone [who is a popular vlogger] is a celebrity, but not everyone is famous”. I can see where she is coming from, too. When people hear all these big names like Zoella or PewDiePie (who jointly have over 40 million subscribers), you can’t help but think that they are indeed celebs.
There’s a huge difference between being a celebrity and being famous, though. Fame isn’t always a good thing because you can be famous for all the wrong reasons. Whereas, as a celebrity, you’re almost expected to meet so many unrealistic expectations which can be beneficial when it comes to bettering your career.
I mean, the average person doesn’t get mobbed by fans by simply walking down the street! Which brings me onto another point.
I never thought I’d see the day I met one of my all time favourite vloggers – Alfie Deyes. Last year in September I went to my first official meet-up for Alfie’s book signing at Waterstones where 7,000+ crazed fans (including me!) attended. No offence to Alfie but it was quite silly of him to think that only a couple hundred people would turn up with the millions of subscribers he’s racked up!
Eventually, policemen on horses were at the scene in an attempt to tame the growing crowd of fangirls that were forming. Having had to watch the horrific sight of desperate girls pounding on the blacked-out windows of the car holding Alfie and his fellow YouTuber girlfriend Zoella, (which I later found out) I couldn’t help but ask myself, “How can such an ordinary person cause so much havoc?” Not that it was intentional.
Passers-by kept asking, “What’s going on?” “Is there a celebrity here or something?” My first instinct was to say, “No. It’s just a YouTuber…”
I didn’t even get to meet him. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement, but I didn’t allow myself to be disheartened. After all it wasn’t exactly his fault. It just goes to show how much support us fans have for him and all other YouTubers for doing what they do.
A lot of YouTubers have said that they wouldn’t consider themselves celebrities, either. So, should I, someone who loves and supports them, believe any different? Alife spoke to Sky News about his secret to success and said:”I think what people love about vlogging is that we aren’t celebrities, we’re just normal… I think it’s the normality that people love.” The argument made so often about YouTube stars is that they are ‘just like us’ – normal people who shouldn’t be treated as if they are celebrities.
I think opinions on this matter differentiate depending on how an individual chooses to define the word celebrity. As I said before, my personal definition of a celebrity is someone who’s admired for doing the job they do and also make money from it, but I have realised that this (at times) can contradict my disapproval of YouTubers being classed as celebrities.
For me, it just comes down to how the YouTube stars as individuals feel about being referred to as a celebrity and whether or not you choose to respect that they may or may not wish to be.
Feature image by Anita, inserts of Zoella, the Alfie Deyes Waterstones book signing and Alfie GIF.