Posts Tagged ‘Youtube

This post draws content from Week 9 lectures and readings. The question to be discussed is as follows: A) Burgess and Green argue that: ordinary people who become celebrities through their own creative efforts “remain within the system of celebrity native to, and controlled by, the mass media” (Reader, page 269).

While it cannot be denied that celebrities can exist mostly outside mainstream mass media (read: the indie industry), I agree with Burgess and Green’s argument (Burgess & Green, 2009), mainly because it comes to a point whereby the mass media eventually encompasses all.

Burgess and Green further elaborated saying that media power will always lie with big media producers because these media conglomerates are the ones fueling the notion of ‘amateur stars’; “rags-to-riches stories” (Burgess & Green, 2009, p. 22). There have been numerous stories of ordinary people gaining recognition online through Youtube, MySpace and so on. When mainstream media picks up on them, they are propelled to greater fame.

While it can be argued that many celebrities like Radiohead and R.E.M who are known to the public, do not conform, or ‘sell out‘ (Urban Dictionary, 2011); they have been highly involved in non-commercial distribution of their work which goes against the basic principles of mainstream music industries, by virtue of the fact that they have become household names prove the over-reaching influence of mass media.

My point is, while celebrities who have gotten famous out of their own creativity appear to be independent of mass media, to get famous and remain famous, mass media is a vital element of the equation.

Whether it is going along with the tastes of the public who utilise mass media, or purposely resorting to shock tactics which appear contrary to what the masses want or have been inundated with via mass media (i.e. Leave Britney Alone: Chris Crocker with his clashing views at the time, standing up for Britney Spears when the mass media was mocking her), ultimately, ‘self-made’ celebrities remain within the control of mass media.

In other words, the mass media remains a barometer by which these celebrities measure themselves against, and decide on a presentation that would gain them the most fame.

Taking the case of Youtube again, one Youtube celebrity whose work has spawned a slew of similar video tutorials, is Michelle Phan.

Michelle Phan is a Youtube ‘star’/makeup artist who has over a million followers on her Youtube channel, and has garnered nearly 70 million views since 2006. While it can be argued that because she makes use of her personal skills to teach makeup to her viewers and thus is not controlled by the mass media, her content is fundamentally influenced by the mass media, thus she “remain[s] within the system of celebrity”.

Take for example her makeup tutorial on Lady Gaga’s Poker Face makeup.

Phan’s video tutorial was posted in May 2009, at the height of Lady Gaga’s fame for her debut album featuring the song Poker Face. Therefore, it is quite easily inferred that Phan, a self-made celebrity is within the control of mass media which compelled her to produce content which she knows will be popular with her viewers due to the hype surrounding Lady Gaga.

Hence, I believe that Burgess and Green’s argument holds.


Burgess, J. & Green, J. 2009, ‘Youtube and The Mainstream Media’, Youtube: Online and participatory Culture, Polity Press, Cambridge, UK, pp. 15 – 37.

Phan, M. 2008, ‘Lady GaGa Poker Face Tutorial’,, viewed 24 May 2011.

Urban Dictionary. 2011, ‘Urban Dictionary: Sell-out’, viewed 24 May 2011.

This post will draw upon lecture content as well as readings from Week 3. The question to be discussed is as follows:

While discussing YouTube, José van Dijck argues that the site’s interface influences the popularity of videos through ranking tactics that promote popular favourites (Reader, page 94). How do ranking tactics impact the formation of online ‘communities’?

Firstly, a very brief description of Youtube. Founded in 2005, the video sharing and streaming website has an average of 24 videos uploaded per minute and exceeded two billion views as of May 2010 (Youtube, 2011). Visitors to Youtube only have to search or watch videos of a certain genre before automatically being offered or suggested videos that Youtube’s programming thinks they might like by their second visit. For instance, on my first time surfing Youtube, I searched for and watched videos of Radiohead’s live performance of Creep.

On my subsequent visits, I found under the Recommended For You tab, there was a list of videos relating to Radiohead because Youtube deemed me to be interested in the band along with this message.

As this Recommended For You tab was placed prominently at the top half the Youtube’s homepage, my eyes were drawn to it immediately and this resulted in the higher chance of me clicking on it. Thus, this shows that José van Dijck’s theory that site interface does affect the popularity of videos is proven. Via methods Youtube has utilised like a front and centre Recommended For You tab, promotion of Most Popular videos, suggestions for other videos while watching a particular video, as well as featured videos, site interface is very important.

Communities in this case refer to online communities which exist on Youtube. These groups are set up by netizens who may or may not be produsers in order to devote full attention to a certain interest. Youtube itself is a giant community which serves the needs and pursuits of produsers and passive users who are interested in watching videos, streaming them, commenting on them, contributing them, and disseminating them.

Online communities on Youtube generally are hobby or interest groups. More often than not, these groups are ranked according to popularity, the number of comments they garner, the number of subscribers, or even the amount of advertising fees paid to Youtube in exchange for greater prominence/exposure (Dijck, 2009). With the factoring of money in, online communities now might be formed not purely out of interest, but of financial reasons.

Hence, it also means that the popularity of certain online communities might be boosted by cash injections and not a real indication of its widespread appeal amongst netizens. While this allows a new form of advertising to emerge, it is a blow to amateur netizens and produsers. With eyes and potential votes of ‘confidence’ being steered away from them to the big guns in the industry, exposure will be extremely hard to get.

Should capital continue to be a big, or even deciding factor in the formation of online communities, home users and produsers will be subject to a stifling of creativity and opportunities to present their own material which might be vastly different from mainstream media. As in the case of the remix culture which I highlighted here, amateur producers who are also users and netizens in the World Wide Web (WWW) are important when alternative views are needed to balance out the avalanche of media mainstream media production companies are heaping on consumers.


Dijck, JV. 2009, ‘Users like you? Thoerizing agency in user-generated content’, Media, Culture & Society, Vol. 31, No. 1, Sage Publications, Los Angeles, London, Singapore, New Delhi, pp. 41 – 58.

touchmyeggs. 2010, ‘Radiohead – Creep (Live @ Reading Festival 2009)’,, viewed 23 April 2011.

Youtube. 2011, ‘About Youtube’,, viewed 23 April 2011.

Youtube. 2011, ‘Most Popular’,, viewed 23 April 2011.

Youtube. 2011, ‘ Recommended For You’,, viewed 23 April 2011.

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