Only in New Media: Thoughts on YouTube Celebrity from Freddie Wong

/ Feb 8, 2014


Freddie Wong, clearly a critical thinker, shared some gems during his appearance on Rhett & Link’s “Ear Biscuits” podcast. Take a moment to reflect with Wong about what it means to be a YouTube persona.

According to Wong, the “most interesting thing” a fellow YouTuber has said to him regarding their job came from Ray William Johnson. “At some point,” Johnson said, “you’ll have a choice, and your choice will be to give your audience what they want to see, or to do what you want to do. You have to make that choice, and you have to be conscious about it.”

Celebrities in general may have to struggle with this balance, but only on such interactive platforms as YouTube does fan commentary so directly correlate to entertainers’ content. Brad Pitt isn’t out there reading all of his fan mail, but Wong and others are scrolling down their channels to see whether viewers liked their latest video and deciding how (and whether) to cater to their requests.

Something else unique to YouTube recognition is that your popularity comes with a very concrete number. Early YouTube parties “were like high school” as far was Wong was concerned. “It was like everyone walking around had a number over their heads.” That number, of course, indicated literally how popular you were. Sure, movies gross certain numbers at the box office, but those numbers don’t correspond to a single celebrity.

That being said, all YouTube stars get lumped into a single category (you know, “YouTube stars”). This is true in spite of the wide range of YouTubers’ skill sets. Chester See sings, Wong has a strong background in film…but to the outside world, they are all simply “on YouTube.” Wong puts this in perspective, comparing it to “putting Howard Stern, Tom Cruise, and Katy Perry in the same room, and saying, ‘Oh, you guys are all media creators!’” A very fair point from Mr. Wong.

For further Freddie Wong wisdom (as well as a peak into Guitar Hero fame), tune into Episode 4 of “Ear Biscuits with Rhett & Link”.

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