Ugh. Why THIS gotta be my first post of 2018?
(Happy New Year? Is that still a thing? Has the newness firmly dissipated by now?)
I was lucky enough to get a good night’s sleep today, for the first time in what feels like 18 1/2 years. Part of my morning routine is checking various social media feeds, with Twitter being the favourite. Trump, Brexit, depressive teenagers, the usual… then I saw Craig Simmonds’ tweet, and a sinking feeling materialised within my stomach. It was a screenshot of an email. I quickly checked my own email. There it was. The exact same one.
This is very much the wrong response at the wrong time. As seemingly everybody knows at this point (Saturday Night fucking Live was making jokes about it), YouTube has received heavy criticism for its role in Logan’s Paul continued online presence. If one films and uploads a dead body to their platform – which violates the community guidelines. Multiple, actually. Naturally, YouTube did nothing for several days, until there was a searing uproar from seemingly everybody, prompting them to continue their state of inaction for several more days. Eventually, they announced that Paul would be stripped of his premium monetisation status or something, and kicked off of YouTube Red. Cool. No guideline strike, though. Nor was his channel removed full-stop. He’ll still be able to upload videos and make money off of them, therefore making money for YouTube.
At the core of this act was a problem about how certain creators on YouTube wield entrenched dominance, and are, effectively, untouchable. As we have seen in recent months, the powerful are very much touchable if the masses get angry enough. Previously famous and bankable names have been dropped left and right by corporations. Weinstein. Spacey. CK. Lasseter. Ratner. Rose. Allen. These decisions are not only out of moral righteousness but also out of concern for financial gain. Film studios – correctly – surmised that creating content which stars people who have committed sexual harassment, or assault, or misconduct, or all of it, would no longer deliver financial rewards.
Which makes one wonder why YouTube took a different approach. They are still under the impression that Logan Paul’s existence will continue to be financially beneficial for them. They think people will still want to work with and support an obnoxious twit who thought filming a dead body qualified as entertaining content. They are also, apparently, under the impression that the majority of YouTube – small creators – is not financially beneficial for them.
To be honest, I am not surprised at this decision. It won’t necessarily hurt me financially because I never made money off of my videos anyway. But it was nonetheless nice to see ads on a few videos, to know that, once I’d uploaded enough and once those videos get enough views, I could pass the £60 AdSense threshold and receive a nice top-up to my income. The same logic applies to thousands upon thousands of other creators, many of whom may now just give up creating altogether. The assertion that it’s ‘not about the money’ continues to ring true, and is a sweet sentiment, but we must not forget the importance of financial compensation for our work and our time.
I don’t think I will ever reach YouTube’s new thresholds. It’ll take me a few years to hit 1,000 subscribers (I’m on 409), but I question whether I’ll ever hit 4,000 hours watched. In the past year, I was watched for 231 hours.
Yeah. I’m never getting there.
The reason I’m not surprised is that YouTube can do whatever they want. As stated, massive studios have learned one thing they can’t do is continue to promote abusers and predators by giving them starring roles. That’s because consumers can easily decide not to see that film, or watch that show, and go see something else, produced by a different studio. If Kevin Spacey were kept in All the Money in the World, nobody would’ve seen it. There was more than enough choice from other studios on offer.
People think the same applies to YouTube channels. Don’t like Logan Paul? Don’t watch him! Watch his ad money bleed and his relevance fade to nothing. Watch another, more deserving channel instead!
The problem is, in doing so, you’re only supporting YouTube. Because YouTube is the only site of its kind. Sure, we’ve got Vimeo, but the ‘Vimeo community’ straight-up doesn’t exist. YouTube is different; for years, its appeal has been its ability to connect people, to bring them together and forge lifelong friendships revolving around creativity. With this latest development, YouTube has chosen to firmly close the door on that past ideal and to further entrench the power and dominance of the Logan Paul’s of this world.
Why? Who knows. Perhaps it is just because they can, and public image is irrelevant to any company with a monopoly over the market. With no competition, YouTube don’t really have any incentive to not make a decision like this. What are we, the smaller creators gonna do? Upload to Vimeo? Ha. They know we won’t. The name for online videomakers is ‘YouTuber’ for a reason. We’re still gonna keep uploading, keep making, because we’ve got no other repository. Musicians have iTunes, Spotify, SoundCloud… until the same sense of diversity is achieved for video creators, then we’ll stick to YouTube or create nothing. And YouTube knows it.