YouTube sensation Jenna Marbles didn’t look particularly prepared as she faced a couple hundred screaming girls (and guys) during her visit to University College Dublin, Ireland yesterday afternoon. Marbles traveled from Santa Monica, California to the Emerald Isle to collect a James Joyce award, given to anyone who has achieved excellence in their chosen field.
But what field does Jenna Marbles work in? At first glance, she looks like your typical blonde bimbo. But she has two degrees, a bachelor’s and master’s in psychology. She’s never worked as a counselor and has no plans to, but her mother Debbie thinks she’s making good use of them. “She’s able to connect with people, to make people feel like you’re good just the way you are.”
With 7.3 million subscribers to her YouTube channel and almost one billion views across 131 videos, Marbles is the number one most watched woman on YouTube. She’s third overall, behind comedy duo Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla, better known as Smosh, and former top dog Ray William Johnson.
Still, making videos on YouTube will probably never feature in the “expected careers” section of a university brochure. And while it might appear otherwise, Marbles didn’t plan this. “I just started playing around with some editing software and decided it was really funny. I uploaded it to YouTube, and then I guess people watched it.”
Marbles is perhaps best known for her smash hit “How To Trick People Into Thinking You’re Good Looking” and “How To Avoid Talking To People You Don’t Want To Talk To,” in which she pulled “the face,” an awkward expression designed to get people to leave her alone. Ironically, it played a large part in gaining her a massive fan base. Together, these videos have earned 80 million views.
Then again, this is standard fare on YouTube. Ever since an inconsolable Chris Crocker wailed that everyone should “leave Britney alone,” every week the video-sharing site hosts another viral hit. So is Marbles’ success all down to sheer luck? Or could it be her looks?
Marbles is very attractive. Conventionally, she’s very pretty, and she has a great figure, possibly as a result of her past life as a go-go dancer. So do people watch her for her brawns or her brains? She says she doesn’t know, but if the comments on her videos are anything to go by, a lot of it is down to her appearance. A single visit to the comments section on her latest video yields responses such as “You have nice BOOBIES” and “I’m so doin’ that”.
But there are other comments too, like “You’re the most hilarious human being on earth!” Marbles is widely considered funny, and while funny is usually subjective, can a billion viewers be wrong?
If her success really is down to sheer luck, then at some point it has to run out. Even a casual user could tell YouTube has changed exponentially over the last couple of years. While some consider things like VEVO to be a threat to the “You” in YouTube, Jenna doesn’t see the point in comparing herself, and her community, to big corporations. “We kind of just see them as like ‘Aw, Rihanna is beating me!’, but nobody really cares. Obviously, Rihanna’s gonna beat anyone on the internet.”
Even if her audience sticks around, she won’t stay young and pretty forever. But in a manner that seems increasingly normal for the star, she hasn’t really prepared for the future. “I’m just going to keep doing it until it’s not fun anymore,” she says honestly.
About the author: Brian Byrne is a 23-year-old freelance journalist and children’s novelist. He lives in Dublin, Ireland and spends more time watching YouTube videos than he does just about anything else.
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