I am sick to the back teeth of going online every day and seeing yet another ‘news’ story about Zoella. I use the term very loosely, as it’s never actually news that seems to be reported, but because she’s in the spotlight so much at the moment, it makes for a great traffic driver to whichever website (*cough* Daily Mail *cough*) is choosing to write bilge about her.
If you’ve been living under a rock, I’ll just take a minute to explain to you who Zoella is. At 24, Zoe Sugg has found fame by posting YouTube videos as ‘Zoella’. They are about her life, from fashion and beauty to travel, homeware and her struggles with anxiety. Her videos and blogs have made her one of the most popular YouTubers, and she recently hit the milestone of having seven million people subscribe to her YouTube channel.
Her success has seen her launch her own beauty range for Superdrug, launch her (controversial) first book, and sees her appear on this week’s episode of the Great British Bake Off for comic relief, alongside celebrities like Gok Wan and Jonathon Ross.
Now, the issue I have isn’t with Zoella herself. I mean, she’s not my cup of tea, but that’s because I’m cold and dead inside, and she is all rainbows and unicorns. We just seem to be very different people. The issue I have is with the media and publications, which are constantly trying to put her, and her fellow YouTubers, down.
In this day and age, when the Daily Mail writes up when a celebrity puts their bins out or, shock horror, a woman wears a bikini to the beach, it’s unsurprising that Zoella’s popularity has seen her become the subject of more than a few column inches.
However, what I don’t agree with is the way she’s being targeted. As YouTubers came to particular prominence last year, I started to notice a divide in the media between old and new. It seemed like the papers, both in print and online, were having trouble handling the success of these new internet superstars, probably because they didn’t understand them. There were articles about Zoella being a bad role model because she talks about hair and beauty, but there were no mentions of the fact she has raised awareness about mental illness and anxiety, and is now an ambassador for the charity MIND.
The amount of grief that these young people get for doing what they do is ridiculous. Those who agree with the articles written by the press like to add insightful comments like “All she does is make YouTube videos, anyone can do that”, and “Why doesn’t she go out and get a real job?” NEWSFLASH: If making millions from YouTube videos was that easy, we’d all be doing it wouldn’t we?
An article appeared in the papers yesterday about the fact that Zoella had bought a £1million mansion in Brighton, and the Daily Mail even published pictures of said house, which the YouTube sensation moved into with her boyfriend, fellow YouTuber Alfie Deyes, last year. How is that in any way OK to do? You’re publishing pictures of a house belonging to someone who has had trouble with fans turning up outside her previous flat, and someone who is so in demand that fans are willing to wait for up to seven hours at events just to meet Zoe and get their picture taken with her?
It seems that now a slow news day means you can just publish a story about any celebrity and wait for the traffic to come rolling in. There was a story about Brooklyn Beckham (David and Victoria’s oldest son) carrying his little sister Harper home from New York fashion week, and it was trending on Facebook for THREE DAYS. So many of the stories about the Kardashians are just pictures from their Instagram feed that you could go on and view for yourself, and yet these types of online articles generate a ton of traffic.
News these days doesn’t even have to be news. With the capacity that websites can offer, publications just seem to be churning out clickbait articles like there’s no tomorrow. So where will it end? Will people get bored of the celebrity culture we currently live in, or is this the news of the future?
For someone that has seen themselves thrown in to the spotlight at such a young age, I think Zoe is handling it pretty darn well, and the haters need to just relax a bit. Who gives a shit if her book was ghost-written? There were only about five months between its announcement and its completing; of course she didn’t do it all herself! And who gives a shit if her beauty products aren’t the best quality? They’re sold in Superdrug, so I don’t know what you were expecting, but it’s hardly Harrods.
I think the media need to embrace these new media superstars, because they’re only going to get more popular, until a new breed of young internetters start hitting the headlines.
PR exec who likes finding funnies and cool stuff online. Print journalism graduate.