I feel like I need to shed light on a recent controversy regarding my use of promotional videos. Feel free to comment and Digg this post if you like.
The vast majority who watch my videos are receptive to an occasional promotional video. Take my recent “Poor Man’s GPS” video I did for GPSManiac as an example. The video quickly became the second-highest rated “comedy of the day” on YouTube. And If you read the comments from viewers, they mostly found the video entertaining. I’m always transparent when I make a paid video.
As George Clooney recently said, “I’m not going to apologize to you for trying to make a living every once in a while.”
Still, I’ve recently been attacked by some members of “The YouTube Underground.” Apparently this group is in the midst of an “operation” that targets me for what they see as perverse self promotion and manipulation. During SouthTube (a YouTube gathering last weekend in Atlanta) I met a former member of this bazaar group. Mike Skehan gave me some insights into these people, and helped me understand why they prefer not to be labeled as “Haters.”
Last week I made a parody of some of the outlandish comments I’ve received recently, and as a result of Skehan’s insights I changed the name from “Scripted by Haters” to “Scripted from Negative Comments.” You may want to watch it — it’s kinda funny when you hear some of their weird comments out of context.
Despite my initial instinct to parody their absurdity, I won’t deny the attack got to me. You’ll see my thoughts on this in this 10-minute reflection I posted on one of my alternative YouTube accounts (it’s rather dull). Most of my YouTube friends tell me to ignore this stuff, and not to let it bother me. They can’t understand why it gets to me or why I give it any attention.
But I’ve been thinking about the fact that most YouTubers who get attacked simply want the controversy to go away. Almost every “famous” YouTuber becomes the victim of some attack… Renetto, HappySlip, LisaNova. YouTube “weblebrities” get bashed, and sometimes they’re embarrassed so they ignore it. In fact it’s frightening when you become targeted by people full of anger even if it’s probably an inevitable part of “putting yourself out there.” Renetto once got literally stalked by a “hater” and ultimately had to get the FBI involved. You don’t know if they’re just being quirky or if they’re downright lunatics who could be a threat to you or your family.
In one video, a person who calls himself “TheeStranger” does an “expose” on me, and reveals private information like my real name and the appraisal value of my house. He later apologized for listing my real name (and made this response video), but it’s still freaky when someone has researched where you live. Will someone show up at my home and attack me or my family? Even more frightening than TheeStranger is Samtwist who has made several videos that attack me: Nalts Cheats, Nalts Whores, The Underground, and Naltsferatu.
What motivates these people?
Some of them will tell you they’re serving some important cause. Why else would they invest hours and days making videos that harass you? In some cases, I believe their cause is legitimate. They want YouTube to be a community not a website that has advertising and promotion. I feel like there’s a great role for entertaining promotion, and most YouTubers are happy about receiving free content and perfectly willing to see advertising to avoid paying for content.
Ironically, the group accuses me of self promotion, but many of their videos are simply designed to get attention for themselves. This, to me, is a greater crime than using YouTube to advertise a legitimate product or service. It’s sad when someone uses anger and attacks on others to get attention, instead of creating something interesting, educational, artistic or funny.
So this will be the last time I give this controversy any attention. Writing this post, in fact, arguably gives them more attention then I’d like for them to have, and I’m sure they’re thrilled to have it. But YouTube should be about entertainment, community and art. And there’s also a role for marketing — especially since I’m not compensated for the 30 hours I spend making comedic videos (except for a modest income I receive from YouTube’s “Partner Program,” in which I receive a small portion of the advertising that appears with my videos).
What are your thoughts? Positive or negative. Bring them on…