Sunday, 1 June 2014

Upload Tour 3 and YouTube/Celebrity Culture

The Upload Tour returned last week and I went to the Cardiff date (Wednesday) with a few of my friends like last year. This year seemed different which is why I thought instead of doing a review like I did last year I'd try and contribute to the discussion that seems to be going around the internet at the moment regarding YouTube Culture in the context of how it affects events like this. This is a pretty long post because I have a lot of opinions on this subject so I'd suggest grabbing a cup of tea and getting comfortable. (I also will not judge if you skim read or skip sections).

The discussion on YouTube Culture, which started when Louise from Sprinkle of Glitter posted this video, is one that seems to have snowballed very quickly. Although I was tempted to write a response I wasn't planning to due to the huge amount of video responses and the insightful and interesting points they raised which made me feel that I had nothing original to contribute, however, after going to the Upload Tour 3, I feel the difference I noticed between last year's Cardiff YouTube gigs, both Upload 2 and the Summer In The City Warm Up Tour, and this tour was huge and I believe that was down to this 'YouTube Culture'.

Last year I went to Upload 2 with 2 of my friends and we went purely because we wanted to see eddplant and bribry perform live. We were there for the music and nothing else. We had no idea that there would even be a possibility of meeting the musicians afterwards and because of that we were over the moon when we were able to. The same goes for the Summer Warm Up Tour. Although we'd been to Upload 2 so knew the possibility of meeting the musicians was there, we went to see Dave Giles, doddleoddle, Tom Law and musical Bethan sing and were pleasantly surprised when they came out before hand to meet those of us who were waiting before the gig and have a little chat and then again when they did a meet and greet afterwards. For my friends and I, that was the same with Upload 3. We went for the music not for a meet and greet. It would appear that other people, not just at the Cardiff date from what I've read on the Facebook event, went purely because they wanted to meet Dave, Luke, Emma and Bribry, which is why they then seem to have been rude when they weren't able to.

Obviously I only know what happened at the particular date of the tour that I went to and can only speak from what I've read online, mainly from Emma Blackery's post on the Facebook event about people being disrespectful in lines and at meet and greets and then from her tweeting about some people who were rude when told they wouldn't be able to do a meet and greet. All I know first hand is that in Cardiff on Wednesday, Dave Giles told the audience that he was ill and loosing his voice and him, Emma, Luke and Bribry all seemed as though they were a little bit fed up. Whether this was due to the fact Dave was ill or that, as she told us, Emma had suffered from anxiety earlier in the day or not, they were very open about the fact that people on previous tour dates hadn't been respectful during the meet and greets and I think it's fair to assume that that impacted their moods.

Although I don't know it as fact, I'm fairly sure this lack of respect comes back to the same element of YouTube culture that Louise talks about in her video. In the video Louise talks about the way certain viewers at meet and greets and similar events overwhelm her and how she doesn't agree with people idolising her because, as she puts it, 'we all started as the same'. It definitely seems that people at these kind of events forget that the people they are meeting/watching perform are people too and I've seen multiple video responses to Louise's video talking about how we, as viewers and creators alike, need to imagine the other complexly. Essentially, both viewers and content creators are complex human beings with individual lives and, despite how hard it may be at times, we really need to remember that. 

Personally, I feel that it's such a shame that some people miss out on things like meet and greets due to some people being disrespectful, rude, or just, let's be honest here, overreacting when meeting someone. I'm not saying that when meeting someone you admire you shouldn't be excited or happy or any of the other emotions you might be feeling, I'm just saying you need to remember you're meeting a person and try and keep the fangirling to a minimum, at least while with them. You can go home and fangirl with your friends as much as you like, just don't do it infront of who you're meeting.

It seems as though I'm not the kind of person who 'fangirls' when meeting people I watch on YouTube or who's music I listen to or anything similar but I honestly believe that's because I make a conscious effort not to. As a musician myself, I know that if I want to get anywhere in the industry I need to remain professional, especially around people I admire which is why I make this effort. For example, during the Upload 3 gig Dave Giles asked if I was there because he wanted to say hi and then afterwards, while I was buying merch, came and gave me a hug. For those of you who haven't read the posts I wrote about the Upload 2 or Summer Warm Up gigs, despite only knowing of Dave and his music for little over a year I'm a massive fan of his and I think he's an absolutely fantastic musician, so much so I covered a song of his recently on my YouTube channel. Knowing that he not only recognised me and remembered my name but also went out of his way to say hello to me whilst he was on stage was amazing and I don't think he'll ever know how much it meant to me. But I didn't 'fangirl' or 'freak-out'. 

At the time I was confused as to why I didn't but after having some time to think about it and let it sit in my brain I think it's a combination of the recent discussion on YouTube culture making me realise that it's important not to think of people in the public eye as something they're not and the fact that, ultimately, I respect Dave too much. Although I was surprised by the fact he remembered me I realised that, as I've met him twice before, covered a song of his on YouTube and spoken to him online asking his advice on a few things before, there was no reason for him to not remember me. I realised that just because he's a much more successful musician than I am and he makes videos on the internet, doesn't mean he's any different to anyone else, he just has different talents and a different job. 

Although the discussion at the moment is very much about YouTube culture rather than celebrity culture in general, all the points raised from this discussion got me thinking about, how as Louise said, everyone starts out the same. It can be really weird to imagine your favourite celebrities doing day to day things like going to bed at night or having a lazy day at home, but we, as fans, need to ask ourselves why that's weird. They're just as human as everyone else.

Ultimately, although it can be difficult to remember at times, at the end of the day, all people are the same. They may be incredibly talented in a certain area and they may have a different job to what the majority of people have, but that doesn't mean they should be treated differently. Although YouTube is definitely evolving and the gap between viewer and creator is growing constantly, it's important to remember that, regardless of subscriber count, someone who runs a channel with 3 million subscribers is exactly the same as someone who runs a channel with 3 subscribers. 

Even the fact that the process of creators and viewers meeting used to be called 'meet ups' and is now referred to as 'meet and greets' shows that the YouTube community has shifted from a mutual relationship to a very one-sided, celebrity-like scenario. It's probably too late to reverse this but it's never too late to change attitudes, which is why we need to constantly try to remind ourselves that we are exactly the same as these 'famous' people. Who knows, maybe one day we will be able to change attitudes towards those in the public eye.

If you've made it to the end of this post, first of all congratulations for reading all of that but secondly, please leave me a comment letting me know what your opinion is on this issue. It's something I've been thinking about a lot and would love to discuss!

Lucy x

On a related note, I recently watched this video from Candice (aka CandySomething) on people saying they wish the YouTube community could be like it used to be and it's definitely worth a watch. It fits well with the theme of thinking of people/things as something they're not.