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Sports

The lifestyles and journeys of YouTube sports content creators

Content creators share what their daily lives look like

A common theme in YouTube success stories is the unexpectedness of it all. A lot of sports content creators start making videos as a hobby because they like a sport or a team, but almost none think it will lead to making sports content full-time.

Shannon Skanes, from the Vancouver area, started his YouTube channel “The Hockey Guy” in 2015. He started making vlogs, until one day when he decided to make a video predicting who would win in the first round of the 2015 playoffs.

As time went on, Skanes decided to start making content about the NHL in general, as many similar YouTubers would usually only talk about their favourite team.

Nathan “Grav” Murdock, from Dallas, Texas, started uploading videos on his channel “Graviteh” in March 2017. He started making MLB videos, but when the season ended in September and the hockey season started, he decided to branch out his content. By the end of that year, his channel focused entirely on hockey.

“I was 14, I was just making it for the sake of making it, and thankfully, it’s turned out pretty well,” Murdock said, with four Dallas Stars jerseys hanging on the wall behind him.

“It’s one of those things where I feel like most people that find some success aren’t truly expecting it to work out.”

He switched to making content full-time in 2019, around the trade deadline, the playoffs, and especially the draft.

“That’s when the whole thing started to become a lot more [of a] reality,” Murdock said. “And I started to take it a lot more seriously.”

Earlier this year in January, Murdock joined Sportsnet, for whom he now makes content on top of making videos for his own YouTube channel.

Skanes also switched from making videos as a hobby to full-time in his third year on YouTube, in April 2018.

“What happened was the channel was growing, and it was getting to the point where if I worked my regular job, I actually made less that day than I did if I just made YouTube videos that day,” he explained, adding that he had to quit his job to be able to cover the playoffs.

Although Skanes and Murdock both cover hockey, their routines are pretty different.

Skanes wakes up every day at around 7-8 a.m. He starts by working on game preview videos and news videos. Then, throughout the day, he moderates the comments section on his channel to prevent it from getting toxic. He keeps an eye on Twitter during the day, as well as a few other sites, to know whenever something happens in the hockey world.

“If there’s a trade and I’m not paying attention and watching a movie, I will have at least 15 messages between Facebook, emails, Discord… There’ll be messages everywhere, so I have to make sure I’m on it and I get a video done,” he said standing in front of his whiteboard, ready to be filled out for the review video of the day.

During the offseason, Skanes can have a specific schedule, but it’s harder during the season since no one knows what’s going to happen from one day to another. But he always makes sure he has time set aside for the games to be able to do review videos.

On the other hand, Murdock wakes up at around 9-10 a.m. He starts filming his daily video, which usually takes him until 11 a.m. He then does the editing and thumbnail, and by the time he puts in the titles and finalizes the video, he can upload it at 3:05 p.m., which has become the time at which he always uploads his videos, though he’s not sure how it started. He also watches the games every night, and once they’re done he starts cultivating ideas for the next day.

Murdock usually tries to make two to three videos every week for Sportsnet, and three to four on his channel, while Skanes uploads multiple videos every day.

Making a lot of content frequently can cause creative blocks, but both Skanes and Murdock have come up with ways to overcome them.

Murdock said he likes to look at old ideas he has worked on and expand on them or make a variation, like for ranking videos.

Skanes usually likes to make videos that are fun for him, whether it’s about a “horrible season a team had in the ’90s,” or uploading a video on his other channel, “The Entertainment Guy,” about a movie or a show he just watched.

Another part of being a content creator is sponsorship offers. Oddly enough, both Skanes and Murdock have received more offers to do ads for makeup, jewelry, and mobile games than for hockey products.

“I’m not doing a makeup tutorial. It’s just not happening. I don’t even know how I would work that in. Do I work that into a news video?” he laughed, adding that he wouldn’t get paid if the ad was done in a sarcastic way.

They have both only ever had a few hockey-related deals. Murdock has done an ad for the Topps Skate app, and Skanes has had deals with Bench Clearers and Ben H Sports on eBay. It’s important for them to have sponsors that fit their channels.

They also both said they don’t take any part of their journey and success for granted. Murdock said that being a part of Sportsnet is still a “huge deal” for him. “Hopefully, it lasts forever. But for as long as it lasts, I’m happy to be here,” he added.

“If I ever take it for granted, that’s when I know I’m in trouble,” Skanes said. “It’s like a dream job for me. So I have to make sure that I maintain that same level of work ethic and that I don’t take it easy and decide ‘well, I’ve made it’ because as soon as I do that, then I’m pretty much hooped.”

 

Graphic by Madeline Schmidt

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Opinions

My strange obsession: Day in My Life Vlogs

No Danielle-like-and-subscribe-buy-my-merch, it’s a day in MY life (I wish)

The extreme close-up of espresso dripping down into a marble mug.

The lo-fi beats shimmering over aesthetically pleasing B-roll footage of candles being lit, coffee being sipped, and hydro flasks being filled.

The La Croix-stocked fridge.

Let’s not forget about the eloquently lit bathroom consisting of The Ordinary skincare products, guasha stones, and eucalyptus hanging over a rainshower.

Hi. My name is Mélina and I have a slight obsession with “Day In My Life” vlogs.

There’s something about watching people on YouTube go through their days doing supposedly productive and wholesome things that just… gets me. From the morning coffee, to the seven-step skincare routine, to the weekly trip to the Village Juicery, I want it all.

When I open a video and see that it’s more than 10 minutes long, I know it’s going to be a good day for me. The truth is, I usually end up watching these videos for inspiration hoping they will encourage me to at least try to have a YouTuber-esque day in my life as well.

A day that is worthy of being accompanied by lo-fi beats as I film myself sipping an oat milk latte in my Barefoot Dreams robe, sitting on a white fluffy couch next to a perfectly manicured tall plant.

These YouTubers fill me with a different sense of “put-togetherness” that I haven’t quite felt before. At the same time, they also remind me that I should probably be getting to tasks that I’m avoiding, which is usually the case.

Through watching these vlogs, I too feel I am living the seemingly perfect life I get to witness through my laptop screen. Only in a less trendy, less glamorous, but equally caffeinated sort of way.

I may not be living out my life in a high rise apartment in New York City, grabbing expensive brunches with the gals, and reading spicy books by Colleen Hoover under fairy lights in a low-key type of coffee shop in Brooklyn, but I’m still living my best life.

However, if there’s one thing that these videos have taught me it is the absolute therapeutic pleasure of perfecting a skincare routine.

This has to be my favourite part.

Sometimes, I’ll stand in front of the mirror with my headband on, hair tied back, and snuggled in my bathrobe and recite my entire skincare routine, step-by-step. I do the whole shabang in a very “Harper’s Bazaar get unready with me” type of style.

I start with a classic, “Hey Guys! So I’ll be running you through how I take care of my skin…” and then go on to describe the benefits of each of the products I’m using each step of the way. I even do a little smize and shimmy in between steps, just to make myself FEEL like a real YouTuber.

The only people truly witnessing my routine are my cats, who like the warm bathroom floor.

You’re lying to yourself  if you’re reading this and thinking, “That’s weird I would never do that.” I know who you really are and you can’t hide from me.

Bottom line is that “Day in My Life” vlogs keep me sane these days, sort of. They’re that extra sprinkle that make my days better.

I’m not an influencer (if you didn’t catch that already). I know I can’t afford most of the things that they have or do.

In the words of Miss Ariana Grande: “I see it, I like it, I want it, I [don’t] got it.”

 

Graphic by James Fay

Lily Alexandre believes in better online communities

Video Essayist Lily Alexandre makes videos to help mend our broken online conversations

Lily Alexandre started her YouTube channel almost 10 years ago and has been producing videos on and off ever since. After a brief break in her output, she decided to start her channel back up when she became concerned about her job opportunities, having left Dawson College before graduation. So, deciding to use YouTube as a way to show off her skills to possible employers, Alexandre put out her first video in the “video essay” format. To her surprise, the video went viral.

The video that sent her channel soaring was released in January of this year, titled “Millions of Dead Genders: A MOGAI Retrospective,” which details the mostly forgotten “MOGAI” (Marginalized Orientations, Gender Alignments, and Intersex) community of 2010s Tumblr. This community, Alexandre explains, was largely comprised of early-teenage kids aiming to navigate their queer identities and formulate new names to put on their often confusing feelings that they felt did not fit neatly into existing “LGBTQIA+” categories. While often ridiculed for their incessant “micro-labeling,” Alexandre approaches this community with a critical lens to discuss why queer youth gravitated towards this outlook despite how it may have been detrimental to the ongoing process of some people’s gender exploration. Alexandre didn’t realize that this video would strike a chord with audiences so quickly.

“I was at work one day, packing orders at a warehouse and my phone started suddenly blowing up,” Alexandre detailed. “It was super exciting but I also had no idea how to approach it because I had made hundreds of YouTube videos and never had an audience over a thousand people. So, suddenly there was a lot of expectation.”

Since then, Alexandre’s channel has grown to have nearly 20K subscribers, and has released four more videos this year averaging about 30 minutes each, mostly discussing issues in online gender discourse.

However, with this focus on controversial topics in queer identity, as well as her being a visible trans woman online, Alexandre has begun to feel the burden of representing her community, where marginalized creators often feel the need to be more perfect and controversy-free than their peers in order to escape backlash.

Youtuber Lily Alexandre

“I think in my case, and in the case of a lot of queer and trans creators, it’s specifically a thing where

people have seen that they can relate to what I have to say and very quickly have become super attached to me, and kind of assumed that they know who I am and what I stand for outside of these videos,” Alexandre explained. “So, if I say something that goes outside the bounds of their image of me, there can be a lot of backlash, because I feel that people have gotten attached to me as a person and the idea that I have to live up to their ideal.”

Much of Alexandre’s catalogue focuses on where online conversations go wrong, and how we can start to piece our conversations back together. In her most recent video, “Do ‘Binary Trans Women’ Even Exist? The Politics of Gender Conformity,” she details the false dichotomy between non-binary and binary trans people and how both sides claim they are the ones that are more oppressed. This whole argument, Alexandre argues in the video, is reductive to the core, as it places all trans people into one of two boats, erasing important nuances in personal experiences.

Alexandre’s videos show viewers how to be more generous with each other online. Alexandre jokes in her videos about simply “logging off” of toxic conversations online, but she believes that there is truth to this suggestion.

“I think just engaging with people face-to-face builds a lot more empathy than we have online. I’ve been trying to carry that empathy into my online interactions too,” she suggested. “If I see someone with a ‘take’ I think is bad […] that doesn’t make us enemies. This stuff is just a lot lower stakes than it feels online.”

When producing videos spanning difficult topics like gender identity and mental illness, Alexandre is still learning how to balance her work with her own mental wellbeing. She finds herself sometimes getting overwhelmed when putting together videos with such heavy content. However, over the past few months, she’s been learning how to deal with these uncertain moments.

“In those cases, it’s been helpful to remind myself why I’m writing the thing I am. It’s usually not just to talk about ‘Hey, this is really awful, let’s wallow in it.’ It’s usually directional, it’s usually for a purpose,” Alexandre explained. “Because I’ve talked mostly about things I feel do have stakes, and my takes might move the needle in the right direction.”

Looking to the future, Alexandre plans to step away from videos along the topic of gender identity to focus on other issues. Worried she may get pigeonholed, she plans on also creating videos about art, games, music, and other interests.

All in all, Alexandre wants her channel to be a place of discovery and empathy, no matter the topic of videos she puts out.

“I’m hoping there can be a space for talking about these big questions in a way that isn’t super partisan,” explained Alexandre. “And I hope it can be an empathetic place where people are interested in understanding each other more than they are about being correct or being superior.”

 

Photographs by Catherine Reynolds

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Opinions

Spending money for money

“I just bought that private Island, land ho!“ yells a white millennial man in a khaki-coloured research hat, while gliding towards shore on a small boat. He flashes the papers to prove it, and later we’re told that the land cost $730,000.  We’re now less than a minute into the video, aptly titled “I Bought A Private Island,” by YouTuber MrBeast.

MrBeast, a.k.a. Jimmy Donaldson, has made a career off of this type of content. A quick scroll through his YouTube page will show you dozens of titles reminiscent of the aforementioned private island video. “I Spent $1,000,000 on Lottery Tickets and WON,” “Lamborghini Race, Winner Keeps Lamborghini,” “Spending $1,000,000 In 24 Hours” — the formula becomes obvious.

To those unacquainted, Donaldson’s content may seem like a mishmash of neon thumbnails and immature bragging. However, MrBeast content is highly planned and researched and fits squarely within YouTube’s newest vice — flex culture.

The term comes from the idea of flexing — to show off or boast, first popularized by rap and hip hop artists before it trickled into wider popular culture.

Flexing has found a home for itself on YouTube with influencers making mass amounts of content specifically about their consumerist tendencies. Gucci shopping sprees, opulent vacations and closet tours filled to the brim with Birkin Bags have become a genre of their own, where influencers shamelessly flaunt the vast fortunes they have amassed on the platform.

To understand this phenomenon, it’s important to take a look at the current influencer market to understand why creators would be interested in producing “flex” content.

YouTubers now have more revenue streams than ever. Up until just a few years ago, Adsense — the Google program that allows YouTubers to make money from ads run on their videos — was the primary way YouTubers gained an income. But now that social media influencing is seen as a lucrative business, more parties are involved financially. Due to third party partnerships, which can come in the form of corporate sponsorships and affiliate links (not to mention income from merch and Patreon), creators are less beholden to their audience.

On the one hand, having multiple income streams can be creatively freeing, as ideally you would be less compelled to shape content simply around increasing the amount of eyeballs you’d get on your ads. However, for many already ultra-successful creators, the cushion of third party income can diminish the importance of viewer satisfaction. In other words, if you’re already making hundreds of thousands of dollars from sponsorships, how many people like and comment on your videos really doesn’t hold as much weight.

Furthermore, many creators who make “flexing” videos are ones who rose to fame on the basis of their personalities alone. While some gained their success through makeup tutorials, such as Jeffree Star, many have risen to fame through simply their demeanor and conventional attractiveness. The concept of “being famous for being famous” has existed since the reality TV boom, and arguably earlier. However, with the democratizing features of social media, the saturation of this type of celebrity is higher than ever.

So what do you do when you have achieved wild online success for no discernible talent and you have more money than you know what to do with? You make the money itself your content.

However, flex content doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Many of these YouTubers have young fans who have yet to develop a mature understanding of class and money. So, for these viewers, the sheer indulgence of these flex videos may just seem aspirational, not shocking.

Additionally, these sorts of videos promote unhealthy views of consumption. Luxury haul videos, for example, normalize the mass consumption of unnecessary goods. While haul videos from fast-fashion retailers like H&M and Shein can be found all over the internet, they’re often slammed as problematic for their promotion of unethical brands. However, luxury brands’ practices can be just as bad, as they also outsource their production to countries with less worker protections. And that’s all before you even factor in the major price markup. Needless to say, no matter where you shop, “hauling” goods can never be sustainable.

Flex culture is not likely to go away anytime soon. As long as we live in a society with major wealth disparity, some people will have massive fortunes, and others will like to live vicariously through them. Many of us are financially suffering and trapped at home, where it’s easy to spend all day staring at social media. It could be fun in these times to escape into the lavish lifestyle of others. However, at the end of the day, it only serves to further the divide as these creators get richer and richer.

 

Graphic by @the.beta.lab

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Opinions

Derma-what? The confusing world of viral skincare

Is this trend only skin-deep?

The steadily-growing YouTube audiences of influencers like Hyram Yarbro (Skin Care by Hyram) and Andrea Suarez (Dr Dray) have blossomed into an integral part of the greater self-care movement. Internet trends usually dissipate quite quickly, yet in the past few years, awareness has risen about topics ranging from mindfulness and spirituality to healthy weight management — and this movement doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Companies have been quick to try and capitalize on this trend of course, taking every opportunity they have to market organic and vegan products, mass publish self-help books, and, of course, heavily publicize any skincare product they have noticed going viral.

Other than my slight annoyance that corporations are making money off people’s desire to better themselves, I also have a few qualms with the skincare aspect of the wellness trend. For starters, users have started adopting influencers’ opinions as the Ten Commandments of Skincare: many are now refusing to use any product that doesn’t stand up to their favorite YouTuber’s dogmatic preferences. But also, as has happened over and over with the DIY approach to self-care trends, rampant misinformation has caused more harm than good.

When The Ordinary’s AHA + BHA face mask went viral online over the summer, many thought that their X amount of hours spent on skincare YouTube rose them to the rank of “experienced user,” who the packaging clearly warns this mask is for. There’s a reason this product, along with a few more from The Ordinary’s popular range, are prohibited from sale in Canada: misuse of these products can have devastating effects. One woman described literally getting chemical burns from it.

It’s also unfortunate how narrow-minded people have become when it comes to skincare. There are only so many products beauty gurus can recommend, and the raided-out shelves of CeraVe, the most popularly promoted drugstore brand right now, are a testament to this strongly ingrained widespread comfort zone. Hyram and other skincare experts are influencers, and their endorsements are overshadowing other options that people are now less tempted to try out. I’ve come across more than a few TikToks of users talking about their newly acquired “Hyram-approved” products.

Ultimately, this trend of people wanting to take care of their skin and feel better in their appearance in a somewhat informed way is a good thing; I support anyone’s journey to self-confidence, and this trend doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. I guess I’ll have to wait a little longer for that “Back in stock” email.

 

Feature photo by Christine Beaudoin with overlay by Chloë Lalonde

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Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: YoungBoy Never Broke Again – Top

YoungBoy Never Broke Again’s latest album proves that his momentum has yet to reach its peak.

YoungBoy Never Broke Again continues his incredible streak with his newest album Top. The Youtube king stayed in his bag and did what he does best by staying true to the YoungBoy brand with his hard-hitting aggressive style, coupled with his melodic flow. The Baton Rouge-born rapper worked with his regular producers, including Hitman Audio and DrumDummie, delivering a sound that makes his music so addictive he’s the most listened-to Youtube artist in the world.

On Top, YoungBoy proves he can rap on one of the world’s hottest producers’ beats on the Wheezy collaboration “I’m Up” by owning the beat from start to finish.  As far as sequencing goes, the transition from “The Last Backyard…” to “Right Foot Creep” and then to “Dirty Stick” is vintage YoungBoy that delivers his well-known compelling sound made of his punchy flow and sticky hooks. These songs flow so well together that it’s not hard to figure out why YoungBoy’s Youtube numbers are second to none.

Lil Wayne finally gave YoungBoy a blessing in the form of a verse on “My Window,” where YoungBoy taps into his emotional side — reflecting on his past and subsequent growth, which is a common theme of the album. He also rapped on Mike Laury’s beat on “Off Season” after originally collaborating for their smash hit “Through The Storm” in 2018. This time, YoungBoy talks about his love life.

After getting emotional for a few songs in a row, he goes back to his gangster roots after all, with bangers like “Murder Business” and “Sticks with Me.”

If anyone still doesn’t understand the appeal of YoungBoy Never Broke Again, this album is a perfect introduction to the 20-year-old. He rides on every beat Hitman Audio throws his way and his flow is infectious, which is simply pleasant to hear over and over again.

Even The Shade Room, a widely popular gossip page on Instagram, has trouble keeping up with YoungBoy’s trials and tribulations of his love life and legal problems, but he really seems to be that dude living the life that most rappers simply rap about. He is doing so by documenting it in his music and that seems to be the key to his unstoppable momentum. Most importantly, his music on this album feels real.

If you compare him to other rappers of his age, YoungBoy is just head and shoulders above everyone else and looks to be embracing the role of the leading trailblazer of this generation.

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Opinions

Dear YouTube, mukbangs are a dangerous and deadly trend

Warning: This article contains sensitive material relating to eating disorders. 

If you’re an avid Youtube watcher like me, you’ve probably heard of or have been recommended mukbang videos. Before we dive into this topic, according to dictionary.com, the concept of a mukbang video is a ‘’livestream of a host who binge-eats large quantities of food as they talk to their audience.’’ These videos are often done in storytime format, where the host tells a lengthy past experience while eating and responding to comments from their fanbase.

These videos are also known as eating shows. Popular content creators include Nikocado Avocado, Trisha Paytas, Zach Choi and Stephanie Soo.

Mukbang has often been used by the hosts as an excuse for the abundance of food they consume. Mukbanger Livia Adams, also known by Alwayshungry, admitted to having had an unhealthy relationship to food, as written in The Odyssey. She has gone as far as congratulating herself for the number of hours she lasted without food in a day. Paytas has also admitted to starving herself for weeks to give entertaining mukbangs for her viewers. On Paytas’ page, you can read some seriously disturbing comments.

“I’m on a diet… watching this is giving me some sort of satisfaction like as though I ate, you know?” 

“I watch these videos because I know I physically can’t afford to eat like this because I gain weight too easily.”

“When having an eating disorder, watching Trisha’s mukbangs is sorta comforting in a way omg”

Let’s not forget that these people become famous and rich by starving themselves, downing nauseating amounts of junk food and promoting their self-destructive behaviours to younger audiences. It’s disgusting and disappointing that YouTube is monetizing eating disorders.

One of the biggest issues that I have with mukbang videos is the fact that these Youtubers eat junk food in large quantities—I can assure you that the most popular content creators aren’t downing a salad nor are they inviting their viewers to live a healthy lifestyle. They’re often eating heavily fried foods, fast food, chips or sweets. A lot of mukbangers only show themselves eating, and, since it’s not glamorous, don’t show how their bodies react. Why don’t they show what really goes on behind the scenes? No human being can be healthy and alright after consuming 10,000 calories in one sitting—by themselves—without any health repercussions, especially after starving themselves.

A study by Hanwool Choe, a sociolinguistics Ph.D. student at Georgetown University shows that many people resort to watching mukbangs to feel less alone while eating, provide a sense of community and sometimes even satisfy some fetish.

As stated by Medical Daily, mukbangs promote overeating and may be causing people to practice detrimental eating habits. We all need to hold Youtube accountable for the content they promote and monetize. It’s unethical for behaviour like this to be so openly presented on a website used by 1.9 billion users every month.

Why do people enjoy watching this sort of content, where people are witnessing the destruction of someone else’s body? Well… it’s actually a brutal human emotion called Schadenfreude, defined by Science News as the “process of perceiving a person or social group as lacking the attributes that define what it means to be human.’’

Schadenfreude, the phenomenon of online voyeurism and the strong influence of social media, all feed into the obsession of looking at others rather than working on ourselves. With one click, we are able to look through digital windows and learn everything about that person, even though it may be an inaccurate depiction.

In all honesty, mukbangs aren’t all created to cause harm, but they seem to be hurting more people than helping.  The internet should not be where people with eating disorders hurt themselves and inadvertently trigger those who see these videos. Youtube needs to care more about their viewers than the money they make.

 

Graphic by @sundaeghost

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Opinions

What’s up with Lilly Singh?

Lilly Singh’s comedy in her YouTube videos is overly theatrical for my taste.

However, there is no denying her accomplishments as an Indian and openly bisexual woman in the media. In an article from The Globe and Mail, Singh is praised for redefining late-night TV on NBC. Hosting her own show, “A Little Late with Lilly,” an accomplishment traditionally dominated by white men, is impressive, to say the least.

Furthermore, Singh’s jokes are not without their share of controversy, and criticism. Some ever took their disapproval to online platforms.

“The Curious Case of Lilly Singh,” a YouTube video by user j aubrey, nitpicks Singh down to her core. It should be noted that j aubrey is male and, well, white. He has been critical of many other large YouTubers such as Lele Pons and Tana Mongeau. In December 2018, Forbes released a list of the most successful YouTubers. No women were mentioned on this list, so Singh took to social media to voice her disapproval. “If you already have more success than you know what to do with, nobody wants to hear you complain about representation,” j aubrey said. The YouTuber criticizes her for “playing the victim” despite her financial success.

In her late-night show, Singh often uses white people as the focus of her jokes. What is wrong with this exactly? Well, nothing in my opinion, but j aubrey seems to think that if she wants to make jokes about race, she should do so in a creative manner.

He focuses on her “racism” towards white people with her punching-up humour. “It’s the way she shoves her identity down her audiences throat,” he said. This is hardly a step in the right direction. Singh’s punching-up humour is not racist towards white people. You cannot be racist towards a group of oppressors, sorry, j aubrey.

This is a dangerous mindset to have when it comes to race, feminism and the representation we see in the media. This is not where growth occurs, but rather where it remains stagnant. Singh is an oppressed minority, and painting her as some kind of bitter feminist for voicing that recognition in the workplace is still very much unequal, is another gripe in an unfair, white male power balance. We have been able to make small steps of progress in regards to discrimination, but these small steps have only occurred from speaking out. Prejudice is rooted in the framework of society. Having these discussions is vital in the fight for equality.

While the comments Singh has received from j aubrey are neither here nor there, she has been the topic of legitimate criticism from the Black community. McKensie Mack wrote a viral essay in 2017 on modern day blackface. Mack states that Singh also steps in and out of blackness, like many white people. That she performs “a stereotyped version of Black culture and identity.”  Singh has dressed in chains, rapped on a basketball court and worn cornrows for her YouTube videos. However, while on the cover of magazines, Singh’s chains are nowhere in sight. Mack criticized Singh for using Blackness as a costume, “she puts on Blackness in the morning and takes it off at night.” She has also made jokes at the expense of the Punjabi community on air. Singh told Jessica Alba while interviewing her on her show, that her children wrapping towels around their heads would look like her Punjabi friends. She later took to social media to apologize for the joke. Singh has failed to acknowledge how her comedy has been seen as offensive to the Black community. It would be worth acknowledging her mistakes with appropriation.

Though, as far as I’m concerned, if you are offended by Singh’s punching-up humour, then in the words of comedian Stephen Fry, “well, so what?” 

 

Graphic by Victoria Blair.

Categories
Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: DDG – Sorry 4 the Hold Up

The YouTuber-turned-rapper and recent Epic Records signee, DDG, is looking to solidify his place in the hip hop world. His latest project is a short but sweet reminder of the constant work he puts in to reach musical stardom.

Sorry 4 the Hold Up, a clever twist on Lil Wayne’s classic mixtape series, Sorry 4 the Wait, is a four-track project whose major theme revolves around the complicated, public breakup he went through in 2018 and his actions following the split.

On the album’s opening track, “Lil Baby,” the 21-year-old smoothly croons over an electric guitar-based instrumental produced by superstar beatmaker Mick Schultz. DDG provides a detailed account of his intimate encounters, possibly reflecting on past events with his ex. Sorry 4 the Hold Up’s third track, “Hold Up,” holds the only feature of the EP. Queen Naija, fellow YouTuber-turned-artist, accompanies DDG on an emotional message to their past loves. Queen Naija went through a similar high-profile breakup in 2018, so it’s fitting that she shares the track with him.

The project’s final track, “Run It Up,” features an interesting trio of rappers to close out the EP. Released prior to Sorry 4 the Hold Up, the song includes YBN Nahmir, G Herbo, and Blac Youngsta, each of whom showcase their individual styles and flows on the club anthem. “Run It Up” is produced by Taz Taylor, who’s known for creating the beat for Rich the Kid’s three-time platinum single, “Plug Walk.”

While DDG’s fan base awaits a longer body of work, they should only expect a full project to be released once he gets through his Breaking the Internet tour, set to end on April 18. Nevertheless, Sorry 4 the Hold Up, despite being only four songs long, is just the right amount of music needed to hold them off—for now.

8/10

Trial Track: “Lil Baby”

Star Bar: “I think it’s really your pride

You not expressing what you feel inside

Girl, I don’t know what you’re trying to hide

You said that you loved me, that shit was a lie”

– DDG on “Hold Up” ft. Queen Naija

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Opinions

Changing minds or useless conversations?

Steven Crowder’s YouTube series falls flat in debating serious issues and sparking real discussions

Set up a table, two chairs and a mic. Finish off the video with a strong statement, and you’ve got yourself the key ingredients Steven Crowder needs to engage in conversations with strangers. In his YouTube series “Real Conversations,” the comedian, actor and political commentator sits in public spaces and invites people to change his mind on “hot-button issues” as he calls them. But, does he really want his mind changed?

Obviously not. Crowder’s “change my mind” statement is just a way to capture an audience’s attention. The goal is clearly to defend his own point of view by confronting people and winning the argument. It seems like a clever way of presenting his ideas. The concept of the videos would be quite impressive if his intent was sincere and fair, but it’s not.

First of all, it’s his own show. Crowder is comfortable in front of the camera and microphone. He is much more relaxed than the people he confronts; he often makes jokes to get the upper hand and mocks the person he is arguing with. As for the content, Crowder obviously knows the topics in advance, since it would be difficult to argue as he does otherwise. He often brings up points that were clearly researched beforehand. He also memorizes statistics and figures. If each person Crowder faced benefitted from the same preparation, it would be fair. But when he is the only one with the chance to prepare, he is simply showing off. Furthermore, Crowder could easily reveal his sources in the description below the video, but they are nowhere to be seen.

In the “Male privilege is a myth” episode, a woman in the crowd claims his numbers are wrong, but she isn’t invited to talk to Crowder. Herein lies another problem. Although the conversations are unedited and uncut, we can presume Crowder chooses which arguments make it online. It’s likely only winning arguments will be posted, not conversations that show him in a bad light. Given Crowder’s obvious intent with these videos, why would he upload one of him losing an argument? As he states in one of his videos: “Sometimes people will not change their mind, and there is nothing you can do.” Crowder seems to be one of these people.

Watching someone who has an opposite point of view to yours win an argument with such obvious advantages is incredibly frustrating. So it must be really satisfying to those who share Crowder’s views. However, I don’t think his videos bring us anything more than this frustration or satisfaction. If you take a look at the comment sections of his videos, many people point out Crowder’s unfair rehearsal and some even take the time to debunk several of his arguments. To me, these videos are not “productive” debates as Crowder describes them. He’s playing a game and merely trying to look smart.

Talking with people who hold different views can be interesting and is necessary to bridge gaps and broaden our understanding of the world. However, to actually be productive, both sides have to be honest about their intentions. Being right should not be the goal of the conversation, because it forces people to adamantly defend their ideas instead of learning and understanding another person’s perspective.

The subjects Crowder tries to cover are complex and involve a broad spectrum of ideas, elements and facts. I don’t think a single one-on-one conversation without sincere intentions and verifiable facts would help in any way. I don’t see Crowder’s series of videos as productive in any way—I see them as useless.

Graphic by Zeze Le Lin

Categories
Opinions

We need to have a conversation about content

YouTuber Logan Paul’s controversial video sparks discussion about boundaries, consumer habits

If you’ve been anywhere with Internet since the beginning of 2018, you probably heard about the backlash against YouTuber Logan Paul for his video posted on Dec. 31, 2017. The video explicitly showed the hanging corpse of a suicide victim in the Aokigahara forest, infamously known as “the suicide forest,” which Paul filmed during his recent trip to Japan.

The criticism has been focused on Paul’s questionable decision to film, edit and post a video of a corpse, especially since his audience is largely under 12 years old, according to the American video game website Polygon. Many people have been condemning Paul for the video, from big-name YouTubers like Philip DeFranco, PewDiePie, Jenna Marbles and H3H3, to celebrities like Sophie Turner, Whoopi Goldberg and even Dr. Phil.

According to Variety, Paul himself was the one to take down the video on Jan. 2, and it took another 11 days for YouTube to formally respond to the controversy and cut ties with him. The website decided to remove him from their top ad platform service and ended production on all his YouTube Red series. This has been an appropriate but unacceptably slow response.

In my opinion, this slow reaction hints at YouTube’s willingness to turn a blind eye to Paul’s behaviour. After all, when Paul initially posted the video, it was reviewed and deemed acceptable by YouTube several times, not to mention hand-picked to be on the website’s trending page, according to Buzzfeed News.

This stings even more given that other creators on the platform are resorting to companies like Patreon and Twitch to get funding due to YouTube’s guideless algorithm. The algorithm—which didn’t stop Paul’s video from being accessible—has previously banned and de-monetized videos for mentioning things like the LGBTQ community, according to The Guardian.

As for Paul, his apology for the incident left a lot to be desired for those hoping for deeper self-reflection from the YouTuber. He has since been filmed by TMZ at an airport saying he is ready to continue producing content, and that he has learned a lot of lessons since the controversy. Unfortunately, I don’t believe Paul has had to worry about his financial situation, despite YouTube cancelling his Red series.

He’s right to not be concerned. Despite the loss of subscribers due to the scandal and outrage from the parents of many of his viewers, Paul’s channel is doing great. Whatever statement YouTube was trying to make with Paul’s punishment is falling flat, in my opinion. Subscriber increase has put him in the green since his controversy, according to Social Blade, a statistics website, and he is still promoting his ‘Maverick’ merchandise. Despite the incident, many of Paul’s fans have remained incredibly loyal and aggressively protective of him, calling his critics ‘haters.’

In November, YouTube had to crackdown on inappropriately violent content aimed towards young children, according to media network The Verge. It seems parents just aren’t looking at what their kids are doing online. The extremely graphic video created by Paul has been a long time coming. In his apology, Paul admitted he has made vlogs everyday for 465 days, and he constantly feels the need to push the envelope for his impressionable young audience.

As much as the blame should be put on Paul and YouTube for letting this disgusting content be published and trending, a larger issue hasn’t been highlighted. More open discussions need to happen between children and their parents about video content. I believe unchecked behaviour on the part of the viewer and the content producer is what allowed this video to be created. As much as Paul claims to have learned his lesson, we need to ask ourselves as consumers if we have to learn one too.

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth 

Categories
Student Life

My personal experience having a YouTube channel

How YouTube taught me life skills and how to be confident

I started my YouTube channel four years ago. In the beginning, the purpose was basically to post random music video covers of some of my favourite songs. Now, my YouTube channel has evolved and completely shifted focus—I now film and post videos about beauty, food as well as lifestyle-type videos. I’ve also recently started filming videos of my travel getaways and story-time videos. I plan on expanding on more aspects of myself for others to see.

When I started out, I was definitely nervous about filming videos and having them posted on a platform as big as YouTube. However, I knew that, if anyone could do it, I could. I’ve always had the courage in me to do anything I want. I’ve never really been afraid of what other people think.

However, I faced some disapproval when I first started out. My mom and sister judged me for the videos I posted on my channel. They called them stupid and useless. For a while, I felt discouraged about this negative feedback. Recently, I saw insulting comments posted on my videos. I deleted them and pretended they never existed. Of course, deep down, it hurts.

When you film videos and post them online, you need to be prepared for any comment that may come your way—the good, the bad and the ugly. You need to shrug off the hateful comments and keep moving forward. This is my current mindset for my YouTube journey, and it feels good. I have gained enough self-trust and confidence through YouTube— I know I am doing this for nobody else but me.

My YouTube channel means a lot to me. It’s the place where I can truly express myself with people around the world. Filming videos has definitely boosted my confidence. I can see myself evolving and becoming more “social” online by reaching out to people from all over. It makes me feel free to say and do whatever I want.  It has also helped me practice speaking aloud and in front of a camera. These skills translate well in my academic life. My channel has also forced me to be more socially-active with friends and when meeting or talking to strangers.

I also like the idea of helping people through my YouTube videos. I want to be a role model for others. Making these videos has made me want to help others overcome the same struggles I’ve dealt with in my life, including bullying and issues with self-image. I also want my YouTube channel to be a light, fun environment where I can also post funny skits, travel adventures and videos about makeup.

If you’re thinking about starting a YouTube channel, be yourself and do not be afraid to express yourself and branch out. This will help you develop a thick skin and ignore hateful comments because, at the end of the day, you are doing what makes you happy. There are always going to be people online hating on your channel, but use it as motivation to make your content better and take more risks through your videos. As Walt Disney once said: “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”

Graphic by Thom Bell

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