Of course it’s irony when the New York Post says something is destroying culture, but for some reason they’ve decided to go in extra hard against YouTubers in their recent publication.
Writer Kyle Smith sets his attacks on Tyler Oakley and Grace Helbig in particular, but Hannah Hart gets pulled into the maelstrom as well, as he picks apart content to decide what is good and bad entertainment.
Here are some of Smith’s more biting comments on YouTube in general:
“YouTube (only 18 months old when Idiocracy was released) is both an idiocracy and a kiddieocracy, where anything stupid can be huge, as long as it’s also young.”
“Sure, YouTubers are narcissists with nothing to say, but why do millions of viewers clamor to watch these self-love sessions? My theory: Every one of them wants to be a YouTube star, but has no talent of any kind, and is eagerly poring over the videos of similarly talentless peers to figure out how it’s done.”
As for Tyler, Smith does not get the appeal at all. Here is the worst of what he had to say about Monsieur Oakley:
“In fact, ‘Squeal, Giggle and Belch’ more or less describes Tyler’s skill set.”
“Oakley, a chortling youth who dyes his perfectly tousled hair colors you’d associate with My Little Pony, is just the tip of the stupidberg that’s ripping into the rusty hull of popular culture.”
And Grace Helbig:
“Grace Helbig’s inane chatter about her life (in one video she tried and failed to find the comedy gold in D batteries) earned her 2.6 million YouTube subscribers and led to a late-night TV series that just finished its first, eight-episode season on E!
That might be the only season, judging by the ratings: Replacing Chelsea Handler, Helbig has attracted a teeny slice of Handler’s not-large audience.”
“A Helbig video in which she attempts to tell viewers not to be insecure will give you some sense of the depth of her personality, which is roughly the thickness of a dragonfly wing.”
And Hannah Hart:
“A 28-year-old drunk comedy cook, except she can’t cook, isn’t drunk while doing so and isn’t funny.”
Pretty awful stuff, right? So what’s his deal? I’m thinking it went down like this — Smith’s editors at the Post saw the scandal meter jump when E! Online went in against YouTubers and, desperate for a taste of relevance, they wanted in on the action. So they went to Kyle Smith with a directive: be as mean as you can be — use terms like “stupidberg,” find the most beloved of the YouTubers and jab at them. And that’s where we’re at now: the old world crying foul against the new. As the Post sinks like a ship that was rightly hit by a so-called “stupidberg,” they’re using the tactic of brutal scandal to keep themselves afloat.
Normally you just ignore this soapbox-top style yelling, but this could be a teachable moment for Kyle Smith.
Of course, we’re not going to stoop to the Post’s level and use ad hominem attacks; I’m sure Mr. Smith is a reasonably pleasant person, but he’s got it all wrong here. Grace and Tyler and Hannah DEFINITELY deserve their success and they work exceptionally hard for it. Tyler has been a tremendous beacon for helping at-risk youth through his affiliation with the Trevor Project, as well as providing inspiration and confidence to LGBT people of all ages who aren’t as confident in being themselves as Oakley is.
A problem with Grace’s television show that everyone seems to overlook is that there is a lot of money and added exposure in television — but it’s an old world medium as well. While the Post will outright die one day, television will at least be able to adopt a new standard and become more compatible with new media. Grace is at the forefront of a complete overhaul in communications. It’s not so much that she isn’t right for television it’s that television as a medium isn’t right for her … yet.
There’s a reason millions of kids tune in to these YouTubers on a daily or weekly basis — YouTube is like a lifeline to disenfranchised youth, kids who don’t feel like they fit in. And there’s a lot of us (except I’m a grown-ass man, but still, I feel like a disenfranchised grown-ass man … “quiet desperation” and all of that). And that’s the beauty of YouTube: it allows you to find perfect friends on your terms. You interact with them via the comment section and they respond in video, doing all the silly stuff you want to see or talking about the things you want to talk about. It might not be your definition of friends, but it’s an emerging culture! There’s fine-tuning still to be done. As it is now, it totally beats not having a Grace Helbig at your school.
And as for your YouTube is ruining culture argument, see: Marilyn Manson, the internet, the Beatles, Elvis, rock music, pornography, violence in movies, television couples NOT sleeping in separate beds, Jane Russell’s cleavage, babies born out of wedlock, the Hadron Collider, witchcraft, bikinis, dancing, or any of the other things that people who were out of touch with the bigger picture said would ruin society.
And yet, here we are. And I don’t know about you, but I remember a world without YouTube — and it just wasn’t as interesting a place.