Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Old-Media Celebrities are Vlogging on YouTube

Sophie Kleeman, Vice:

“Am I crazy?” Naomi Campbell asks in her very first vlog. “I’m opening my life to YouTube!” Campbell snaps a movie slate and laughs. She’s wearing an oyster-colored turtleneck sweater. Her hair is long, pin-straight, and parted perfectly down the middle. She sits on a grey couch in what appears to be her home, or at least a very good approximation of what one assumes the home of a brilliant supermodel must look like, with bright pink flowers, gentle lighting, and soft throw pillows.

She’s not crazy. But she’s also not alone. Campbell has joined a growing handful of very famous, very mainstream celebrities who have ventured into the wilds of YouTube, a platform known more than a smidge dismissively for sugary makeup gurus and Casey Neistat, and decidedly more seriously for extremism and the people who weaponize it. But over the past 20 months, Campbell — along with Will Smith, Jack Black, Zac Efron, Victoria Beckham, Jennifer Lopez, Alexa Chung, and Jason Momoa, among others — have ostensibly opened up their lives to the site’s 2 billion monthly users. Others, like prodigal YouTube son Justin Bieber, are working with the company on “top-secret” original content.

This article transported me back to when celebrities first joined Twitter and spoke with fans and followers directly. It brought those celebrities back down to Earth — until, of course, you remembered that most of what gets posted to their account has a full production crew of photographers, makeup artists, technicians, public relations professionals, and social media managers behind it. Even if you know that, though, it still creates an illusion of being more honest than it is, while simultaneously lending YouTube greater legitimacy and prestige.