A while back two YouTubers (myself and CharlesTrippy) did a fake feud on YouTube that created something of a backlash. Our loyal subscribers were outraged that Charles and I would give out each other’s cell phones to torment the other (see Charles’ video, then my fake response). So they came to our defense, and two Trippy fans even came to my house and assaulted me. Naturally, the cell numbers were fake and directed callers to a “Rejection Hotline.” Few understood this, however, because they didn’t call the numbers. I had to apologize and Trippy even renamed his video to disclaim it as a joke.
Like a dog returning to his vomit, I’ve done another fictional series where I pretend to stalk Renetto(one of the more prominent YouTubers) to seek advice on becoming a YouTube celebrity. Paul Robinett and I taped these early last Friday when I found out he was going to be in Baltimore- a short drive from me.
- In the first video, Renetto plays the role of egomaniac who, begrudgingly, agrees to give me some tips on increasing my YouTube fame.
- In the second video, he shaves my head so I can look as cool as he does.
Renetto also made his own primer to these, in which he teases his audience with news that Nalts (me) is stalking him. He then “book ends”the series by showing himself restless and depressed because of the events, and his father lamenting him for affiliating with Nalts. His dad even demanded I take the videos down- which I actually fell for.
So what’s the point of my sharing this YouTube drama with you, dear WillVideoforFood readers?
It brings up an interesting sociological issue about online videos. Is fiction allowed? Not according to many of the hundreds of comments. Said one: “I thought you were honest, Nalts. I’m unsubscribing.”
As I’m reminded, YouTube is not just a video-distribution channel, it’s a community.
Like any communities, there are rules established by the democracy. Renetto’s lure is that he stirs the community’s pot by setting such rules as “thow shall not post on LiveVideo.” In the video, he raises questions about loyalty among YouTube creators that post elsewhere. He also provoked people by asking “why aren’t there more black people on YouTube.”
One rule the community established is that authenticity is a requirement. I reject that rule. Many of my videos involve fiction, and even “tricking” the viewer for a surprise effect. For example, Google Buttcrack is clearly fiction. And I didn’t get run over by a car when I hid in a trashcan.
And many of my videos are essentially bedtime stories. Make believe. I don’t disclaim them as such, because that would be awkward and would break the suspension of belief.
I do support honesty in videos to the extent that I typically “debrief” the gag. For example, I’m editing a “behind the scenes” video of the Renetto/Nalts shaved-head series. And I believe we especially have to be transparent if we’re doing a video that is sponsored by someone (fortunately my sponsors have always agreed).
But what’s wrong with drama and fiction? Doesn’t storytelling have as much of a place in online video as it does in every other medium? I’m especially interested in those of you who may have an opposing viewpoint. I’d like to understand this more.