I’m weirdly gratified to find that teens and millennials surveyed by Variety say they have more time for cool YouTube commentators than the spangly but ultimately quite dull stars of Hollywood. It’s a sign of the times for sure. Social media is creating a parallel universe that media and movie moguls can’t control.
The teens gave high marks to such YouTube hits as Smosh, The Fine Bros and PewDiePie. And Hollywood A-listers got a big thumbs down. The reason – claims the survey’s organisers – is that young people want their role models to be open and transparent. They’re also more concerned about ‘realness’ than older generations. I suppose we baby boomers and Gen X’s never expected our celebrities to be anything other than fake – but it seems today’s teens crave authenticity. They hate fakeness. Where we bought into the fantasy – they want reality. No idols on pedestals – but human beings who are pretty much like themselves.
What also seems to impress today’s youth is the raw courage of those who put themselves out there on YouTube and tell it like it is. As opposed to Hollywood actors whose movie interviews are so PR orchestrated and fawning as to be almost unwatchable. Even on sex appeal – YouTube personalities scored about equal with Hollywood – with a lot less botox.
None of this has gone unnoticed by tinsel town though and we’re already seeing YouTube stars being turned into Hollywood stars. The big question now is whether the entertainment industry machine can crush the vitality of YouTube or whether it will learn from what has proved successful. My money, this cynic opines, is on the former.