Happy Sunday! Today’s blog post comes in light of the recent Alfie Deyes scandal. I watched that video and left a comment which said ‘this video has so many things wrong with it I don’t know where to begin’; a statement which pretty much sums up my feelings about the behaviour of lots of big Youtubers at the moment.
To be fair, this isn’t going to be a blog post that goes into detail why making a video about living of £1 for lols (and then proceeding to get loads of free stuff and spend money on a beard comb) is terrible; because if that’s not clear to you then I’m not sure what to say. But more to discuss why, in an age of social media where everyone can have their say, how are these massive YouTubers still getting away with this shit? How are they still getting subscribers, advertisements, brand endorsements and succeeding-when they continue to make mistake after mistake? (and not acknowledge or rectify them?)
When a new ‘scandal’ happens, we forget what’s happened before it. And to be fair to Alfie, he’s not the only Youtuber that has made a mistake. I’ve followed several of these scandals over the years…
- The ‘photoshopping scandal’ where Amalia Liana appeared to be photoshopping herself into all sorts of fantastic locations and chucking lots of birds in there for good measure.
- The ‘advent calendar’ scandal. No more to be said there!
- The time lots of Youtubers charged everyone £100 for an ‘immersive experience’ which basically transpired to waiting around desperate to get a glimpse of a YouTuber.
- Or the time Sarah Ashcroft surmised that she basically invented blogging in that Cosmo article and there was no room for anyone else. Oh, and then casually promoted fur.
- The time (don’t quote me on the wording of this) that VelvetGhost said she would just go private for all of her healthcare, so the state of the NHS wasn’t a concern of hers when it came to the election.
There are so many more I could mention. Anyway, all in all, these are simply snapshots of their youtube career. And my issue isn’t necessary with the individual scandals but what happens after all and the fact these YouTubers are literally never held accountable for their actions. And that they still the proceed to act as if they’re actually like you and me.
The Problem When Calling Them Out
When these things happen, what tends to happen is three things:
- The Youtuber retreats from social media and says nothing.
- The Youtuber’s management tells them they need to apologise.
- The Youtuber makes an apology statement so confusing you literally don’t know if they’re apologising. Reminding me of when I used to be a teacher and when I asked kids for an apology they’d say ‘ I’m sorry if you think I have done something wrong’. Nice try there! Here’s an example of some of these ‘apologies’
Amelia Liana’s lengthy blog post about her image principles which actually addresses none of the issue raised with photoshopping about 27 birds into each picture and in fact doesn’t really explain anything at all. And Alfie Deyes tweet which again doesn’t apologise for the fact he basically used poverty to get ad revenue.
— Alfie Deyes (@PointlessBlog) June 14, 2018
This is sometimes followed by step 4. Step 4 involves searching through all the thoughtful, articulate questions people have posed and ignoring them. Then ideally find one lunatic on Twitter on who has said something offensive (which I obviously don’t agree with) and RTing that; explaining about all the ‘hate’ you have-which detracts from the issue and means that everyone ends up feeling incredibly sorry for you and forgets why they were annoyed in the first place.
Cue many ‘you are an inspiration’ tweets. Of course, I am not for one second condoning hate comments and can only imagine how difficult those are to deal with. But, many people are not sending ‘hate’ and instead offering genuine criticism and wanting answers-which as viewers the have every right to.
What Needs to Happen
The reason I get so affronted by these scandals is that I am fed up with people not being held accountable for their actions. Before being a full-time writer, I worked in the public sector; so I am used to seeing people make mistakes (Which we all do) and procedures being followed.
It baffles me that we see blogging as an ‘industry’ but people (and therefore ‘businesses’ of the industry) that still behave poorly and there are no consequences. Advertisers still work with these people because of the numbers and, as each scandal goes on, they keep getting away with it.
To be clear, I am not suggesting people be boycotted or insulted on social media. But just to give you an example- not long ago I worked with a brand on a sponsored post around a sweetener. There is one sweetener I avoid because of gut issues (Aspartame) but this was a completely different one and was a great recipe. However, I still got a lot of stick for ‘promoting sweeteners’.
Although I was annoyed (because my blog isn’t even anything to do with low-sugar or sweeteners; it’s just gluten and dairy free), I replied to the comments; explaining my stance on sweeteners, thanking them for the comments, explaining that I didn’t advocate excluding anything from their diet unless allergies but saying I would adapt the recipe so it could be made with healthier forms. I also took comments on board and didn’t work on the same content again. I don’t really think I did anything wrong there, to be honest; but they were more readers and they had concerns-I acknowledged them and made changes.
Was that so difficult to do? Why can’t these YouTubers do the same? The simple answer is that they absolutely could. But they don’t need to. Because unlike your average blogger who always feels as if they need to keep bringing out new content to keep their audience happy; these YouTubers have a ‘blind’ following who let them get away with anything and advertisers who don’t mind as long as the numbers are there. So, they never change. Because they don’t need to.
They’re not part of the ‘community’
But finally, we as bloggers need to realise that these big YouTubers are not part of our ‘community’. In fact, I use that word incredibly lightly because as I blogged last year; I don’t really think there is much of a blogging community any more. But let’s be honest? When was the last time one of these Youtubers supported someone’s content who doesn’t have hundreds of thousands of followers? When was they did something meaningful to support new bloggers and YouTubers?
They didn’t-and I remember not long ago one massive blogger saying she didn’t read any blogs other than her friends-which pretty much sums it up. I don’t think Alfie, Zoella and co are terrible people; but the big YouTubers are celebrities in themselves now.
And because of that, in my opinion, they need to stop pretending they’re just like me and you. And WE need to stop holding them up as examples in our community. Why are they on the cover of magazines like Blogosphere-instead of the absolutely amazing, diverse, inspirational bloggers we have across so many niches? Why are they the only ones talked about when it comes to bloggers we’ve looked up to or inspired?
I’ve just checked the word count and think I’m well overdue in wrapping this up. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this: are you as fed up as me to see these YouTubers continually making mistakes and still being held up as the pedestal of our industry? When will they take accountability for their actions? I’d love to hear your thoughts.