It’s surprising that the media keeps being surprised that YouTube stars are something like...stars. You know, stars, those people who seem to be making too much money entertaining us.
Felix Kjellberg, better known to those who know him at all as Pew Die Pie, makes at least $4 million a year off his YouTube Web site and has seemingly apologized for it in the past.
“The men and women who have figured out how to make their homemade videos work for them, will probably retire young, and never have to work another day in their lives,” says the Web site CelebrityNetWorth.com, a site started by some entrepreneur who figured out it was also possible to chronicle newly rich YouTubers and get pretty wealthy, too.
CBS wanted YouTuber Bethany Mota to make a short appearance in a film called “The Duff,” and according to The New York Times, it was just shocked that 1) she had an agent and 2) she wanted $250,000. Who does she think she is, besides being an 18-year-old with over 7 million subscriber-verified fans who adore her and a verifiable ability to move fashion merchandise?
The whole idea of YouTube celebrity seems to rankle people who, when not opening their checkbooks, are trying desperately to attract the very same YouTube audiences to their traditional TV shows or movies. It doesn't seem too hard to do a "show" from your bedroom. It's a pretty dismissive point of view.
“YouTube stars are not exactly scarce,” said the NYT, in an article that is part cautionary (young YouTubers being exploited by agents and managers) and awestruck (young people are making a lot of money on YouTube).
Adweek reports on the upcoming Smosh movie. Defy Media and AwesomenessTV are teaming with Lionsgate to produce what I think would be the most out-front motion picture--the kind that will be showing at the Cineplex 4000 sometime soon. Starring Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox (they are Smosh), it also features other YouTubers, like Grace Helbig and Jenna Marbles among others. (Helbig is also in line for a talk show at E!)
It could be a horrible movie--the best Smosh episodes are hilarious, the worst make you wonder how they ever got 30 million subscribers. (In that, they're very much like every episode of "Saturday Night Live" since 1975.)
But if it is even reasonably good, the Smosh movie should make TV executives’ heads explode. As they try desperately to attract the same demographic that populates YouTube, the one thing they’ve weirdly resisted, mostly, was hiring YouTube stars. I’d bet that pretty soon, they might figure out Bethany Mota’s people know the value of their property.