YouTube was front and centre in BBC Three’s documentary Rise of the Superstar Vloggers on Monday 1 February.
Hosted by Jim Chapman, the show displayed all the shiny (and not-so-shiny) parts of being a YouTube vlogger and posting your life online, featuring contributions from creators such as Alfie Deyes, Joe Sugg, and Tyler Oakley.
So what did we learn from the doc? Strap in, make yourself a cup of tea, and don’t forget to like and subscribe as we at TenEighty HQ give you the full run down of the show’s ins and outs.
1. Vloggers are “sticking two-fingers up at the old media establishment”
Uttered within the first minute of the doc by Jim, proving us to be as punk rock as we already know we are, obvs!
As always though, Zoella will be the one to make sure we all have the look down!
2. Jim and Tanya’s dog Martha is super cute.
I mean look at that squishy little faaaaaaace!
…and the puppy’s face is kind of cute and squishy too! *swoon*
3. You better weeeeerk!
Olajide ‘KSI’ Olatunji, the most subscribed YouTuber in the UK, revealed: “A lot of people think YouTube is easy, when it just isn’t. I’ve been on YouTube for six years now, and I would say that the first three to four years were the hardest. You have to constantly put up content that is good to get people back, and I work every single day to try and expand my brand.”
Also, be prepared to work another job off-screen to begin with. Joe Sugg said: “I was on a roof five days a week, and then would come home and do [YouTube] on the side. I was so worried to make it a full-time thing.
“But it got to the point I was being summoned to London three times a week, to do these amazing things and I had to start asking for time off.”
I think it’s safe to say he’s been taking A LOT of time off recently!
4. Money shouldn’t be the main motivation
“I mean, yeah I’ll take money, I’m not stupid!” said KSI. “But I’m just doing what I love, so I don’t really care essentially. It’s like, ‘Cool, I’m getting this money on the side’, but I’m still going to be doing what I enjoy, because I enjoy it!”
“I want to do well,” says Tyler. “I think I do things to figure out identity stuff and family stuff. Given anyone’s upbringing, everyone wants to be seen, heard, and understood. For me it’s like… ‘People get me’.”
5. Never underestimate the power vlogging can have
Some YouTubers have used the site to voice their inner demons and share their experiences in a bid to help others. Sammi Maria spoke publicly about accusations of domestic violence on her vlogging channels following the break-up of her relationship with fellow YouTuber, Ricky Richards (who did not comment in the documentary).
Jim also spoke to his sisters, Nicola Haste and Sam Chapman of PixiWoo, about their choice to discuss their family’s history of domestic violence with their mum online – something he admitted he hadn’t confronted until that point – and the positive outcome that had.
“It’s difficult to figure out what to say and when to say it and how it can affect other people,” admitted Jim.
For Jonny Benjamin, YouTube proved to be not just a tool for expression, but something that aided in saving his life and the lives of others. Openly vlogging his battle with depression – including his suicidal thoughts and his trips in and out of hospital – it helped him find a ground on which to base his recovery, eventually becoming a campaigner for mental health.
“Some people have told me they watched my stuff and said that it stopped them killing themselves or made them seek help,” said Jonny.
6. What you choose to say can end up defining you
“I never wanted to be a role model, but it’s a missed opportunity if you don’t realise that you could be a role model for somebody, or that you could help somebody feel less alone,” said Tyler Oakley on his influence as an LGBT spokesperson, both online and off.
Ingrid Nilsen, who hid her sexuality online until last year, said: “It was something that was really difficult to do but also something that I desperately [wanted to do].” She later spoke to members of the LGBT community in LA as part of the documentary.
Dr Helen Helsper, media psychologist at London School of Economics and Political Science, said: “At a certain point you might make a decision to record a confessional vlog. There’s no going back though once you’ve done it you’ve done it and people can see it as a defining moment. And that’s hard.”
7. Some people will abuse their power
Unfortunately, as the community has learned all too well, some people will abuse their power as content creators. The documentary touched upon pranksters who take their jokes too far, as well as sexual assault allegations that have plagued the community.
A specific focus was Sam Pepper, who hit international headlines following his “social experiment” fake-hand bottom-pinching prank, and most recently, a murder prank video in which his target believed they were witnessing their best friend being shot in the head.
Laci Green spoke to Jim about becoming the unofficial spokesperson on calling out these serial offenders, saying: “There’s no way I could’ve ignored this, it was glaringly right in front of me, in my own community, in my own home.
“This video will generate a lot of revenue, which shows people are able to make a lot of money from this sort of thing. For me, what’s most upsetting about this is the message that it’s sending to young people that it is this normal acceptable thing, and there’s imitators of Sam Pepper, so there’s no accountability.
“The ongoing issue for me is that I’m sort of expected to say something about everything that goes on. I get emails all the time saying ‘I found this’ or ‘I found that’.
“Why aren’t more people talking about this? It’s not entirely surprising that we see real world problems bleeding onto the platform, but we have a real opportunity to change that.”
8. Being your own brand can create its own pressure
Having yourself as your business has proven to be hard for those in the spotlight.
Most publicly, Australian-born Essena O’Neill shunned social media last November after becoming disillusioned with the picture perfect lifestyle her Instagram account and YouTube channel had afforded her through branding deals. “To a lot of people I made it, but everything I was doing was contrived,” she said. “I let myself be defined by something that is so not real.”
KSI also admitted that if he didn’t love what he did, then he wouldn’t have bothered. “You have to be passionate, extremely passionate about what your art. Every video that I’ve done, I’ve crafted it to the way I want it to be,” he said. “If you don’t love what you do, then stop.”
9. YouTubers approved the message
Overall, the entire documentary was well-received by viewers and YouTubers alike, with Jim being particularly praised for the ‘warts and all’ look at the world of YouTube.
— Zoë (@Zoella) February 1, 2016
— Dominic Smales (@domsmales) February 1, 2016
Check out Dodie Clark and Hazel Hayes’ Snow White-themed photoshoot , or why we think you should follow more YouTubers on Twitter.