[This post in response to Week 9 blog question:
Burgess and Green argue that: ordinary people who become celebrities through their own creative efforst ‘remain within the system of celebtrity native to, and controlled by, the mass media” (Reader, page 269) Discuss giving an example of a YouTube video (embed it into post)]
Like many forms of new media, YouTube hasn’t been perfectly defined as of yet. In a nutshell, YouTube is an archive of old TV and movie footage, a never ending stream of video hits videos, home to almost all amateur video, as well as a platform on which an amateur artist can propel themselves into the limelight. YouTube is in a sense what the user needs it to be, hence the name YOUTube.
In recent years as the demand and popularity of the site grows so too do the ‘success stories’ about people who have been shot to fame through the medium. However, as Burgess and Green explore in their chapter ‘YouTube and the Mainstream Media,’ there is more than one category of ‘fame’ when talking about ametur video on YouTube.
First there is the YouTube video that turns viral very quickly for apparently no reason other than large numbers of people find it amusing. An obvious example of this is the ‘Charlie bit me,’ video that had people saying ‘Owwww Charlie ….’ in a horrible British accent for weeks. These people, as Burgess and Green call them, are considered ‘stars’ as their fame, although viral and possibly world wide, does not stretch beyond the barriers of YouTube itself. They are a ‘star’ in the YouTube interface, but other than that they remain an ordinary person.
These people, in my opinion do not ‘remain within the system of celebrity’ and do not become controlled and obsessed over by the mass media. Most likely, because there would be simply too many of them. There are viral videos every day, every now and then one has more fame than most, and may get a mention on the evening news if it is a slow news day but generally they stay within the walls of YouTube, where the media really poses no threat to them.
Then there are the other kinds of YouTube fame, the kind that occurs when a certain person whose talent is broadcasted over YouTube is recognised by a record company or a producer and are sought out and offered a job. It is in instances such as this, where the real world meets the YouTube world that these ‘ordinary’ people who have become celebrities become a part of the ‘system of celebrity native to, and controlled by, the mass media.’
A handful of comedians, musicians and actors alike have been ‘discovered’ in this way, and while this is a very different way to ‘make it in showbiz’ the celebrities are hyped up by the mass media just as much as those that took the more traditional route. Justin Bieber is the most recent and well-known example of this. Far from the little boy singing Chris Brown in a home video, he is now a movie star who does acne commercials and who the world hears about every other day.
‘YouTube’ band, Boyce Avenue, a more recent clip of them and much more refined footage from their original pieces. They now have tours booked in the USA and Canada. Vided can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4zCOHFrLVY
While sitting in a cafe about a year ago my friend and I were enjoying the covers we were hearing on the speakers and asked the waitress what CD they were playing. She said it was a YouTube band called ‘Boyce Avenue.’ I had not, up until that point, heard the phrase YouTube band used, but sure enough there they were, a band of three brothers who started out posting videos of their work on YouTube. It worked … they were signed with a record company and their songs can now be purchased on iTunes. And all in good time, they will become fully integrated into ‘the system of celebrity native to, and controlled by, the mass media.’
Burgess, J. and Green, J. ‘YouTube and the Mainstream Media,’ in YouTube: Online and Participatory Culture, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2009.