by Sarah James
It’s been a little while since the 8th annual VidCon took place in Anaheim California, and since the dust has seemed to settle, let’s take a look at VidCon 2017. A brainchild of the dynamic YouTuber brother duo John and Hank Green, VidCon has offered a place for people of the internet to gather for the past eight years. Just like any other convention, VidCon hosts a variety of panels and booths where fans and followers of YouTube culture can meet and listen to their favorite creators. Since its inception, VidCon has grown from a crowd of 1,400 fans of online video to an assemblage of of over 25,000 children of the internet. VidCon has even gone international; VidCon Europe debuted in Amsterdam back in April, and VidCon Australia is set for this upcoming September. People across the globe flock to these events for the opportunity to see those whose influence matters the most to them.
Why does any of this matter? Why do thousands upon thousands of people show up to see a bunch of E-list celebrities who make a living creating videos in their bedrooms? The phenomenon of YouTube and its content creators is one that has been growing over the past several years, with many young people claiming they watch more shows on YouTube than they do on TV. YouTube has become the place of the independent creator, where people can make whatever they want and watch whatever they want without jumping through the corporate hoops of having a studio run television series. The glory of this platform is that anyone has the potential to be a YouTuber. The people who run the most successful channels were once bored kids with a camera and a hobby. For example, John and Hank Green, the creators of VidCon, have built an empire on YouTube with the brothers running their primary channel, The Vlog Brothers, as well as producing content for dozens of other outlets, such as Crash Course and SciShow. Sure, YouTubers may not have the same status as a traditional celebrity, but everyday the content creators who dominate the platform are gaining on mainstream media. These social media influencers are the future of famous, and fans will give anything to have the chance to meet them.
And maybe that’s because YouTubers have a very different relationship with their fans than traditional celebrities. I have a close connection to the channels I regularly watch, and the people behind those channels seem more like people than any musician or movie star. Vloggers let us into their daily lives; gamers show off their instinctual reactions though they may not be pretty; beauty gurus walk through the sometimes-not-so-glamorous process of getting to the end result we see on Instagram. YouTubers are the ones that permeate our lives every single day, not just once a week on a TV show, every few years when a new movie comes out, or whenever a tour is announced. We, as the viewers, choose to let these people into our daily routines. Each channel is a little window into someone else’s world, and each YouTuber has their own quirks and personalities that draw people to their content. I don’t know every game that MatPat talks about over on The Game Theorists channel, but I watch the videos anyway because I enjoy his personality. I feel like I know these people, more so than almost any mainstream celebrity that I’m a fan of. If I actually met Brendon Urie I’m not sure what I’d be able to say, since he seems like an unattainable voice I hear in my favorite songs. But I bet I could carry a conversation with my favorite YouTubers; they just seem more personable.
Which is why VidCon is such a bucket list event for any fan of YouTube. The opportunity to meet and listen to those who are a part of our everyday lives is one that is extremely tantalizing, and thousands upon thousands of individuals trek out to California each year to do just that. This past year VidCon saw a lot of the same successes as previous years. Massive YouTubers like Tyler Oakley, Philip DeFranco, Casey Neistat, Rhett and Link, Markiplier and dozens more came to the convention as featured creators and participated in a variety of panels discussing the industry of internet video, tips on how to build a successful channel, live gaming, concerts, interviews, Q&As, and so much more. The event is the largest of its kind, and while the entire weekend was fairly favorable, it didn’t go off without a hitch.
Probably one of the biggest things to come out of VidCon 2017 was Logan Paul and the actions that got him kicked out of VidCon. Logan Paul is a Viner that made the switch to YouTube when Vine died and has maintained a substantial following on the platform. Currently boasting almost 2 million followers on Twitter and over 7.7 million subscribers on his YouTube channel, it’s safe to say that this guy has a lot of influence, and when he says something it’s not going to go unnoticed. While at VidCon, Logan Paul stated that he hid a prize of $3,000 around the Anaheim Convention Center, and then posted clues on social media for his fans to follow. Stunts like this are not allowed at VidCon as they can easily cause dangerous mobs and destruction of property, and featured content creators for the event are given a packet that details this exact information.
But Logan Paul wasn’t a featured creator at this year’s VidCon. He was not provided the information about illicit scavenger hunts during the event. He pulled a stunt without knowing it wasn’t allowed, and in doing so he caused a mob of teenagers to rampage the convention center, was chased by security, and then was kicked out of VidCon. But how much of this is actually his fault? Sure, it may seem like common sense to some to not invoke a mob when you have millions of followers across the internet, but for Logan Paul it seemed like a fun way to interact with his followers and the makings of a great video for his channel. But in doing so, he put thousands of people in danger, and his fans ended up tearing through the convention center looking for his $3,000 prize. Is he responsible for the actions of his fans? Or did the fans take it too far?
This question is not new when it comes to celebrities, especially in recent years. Fans of certain people will tear down other artists just because there was a slight argument- look at the feud between fans of Katy Perry and fans of Taylor Swift. Most people will agree that it’s not the celebrity’s fault if a fan acts outlandishly, but does that opinion shift when it comes to YouTubers? When creator and followers become so close and when idols are so easily accessible, is there more responsibility for the actions of the fan base? And is almost causing a riot justifiable when it makes for a great video? The role of the Internet and the creators who have made their home there is becoming more important every day, and the rules we apply to traditional celebrities may need to be rewritten so events like VidCon can continue to grow.