The PooTube endeavour continues. Yesterday, I spent the whole day streaming my own videos on YouTube and encouraging other people to help me out. My mom had videos running in the background all day so that I could meet the minimum 4,000 watch time hours in order to get reviewed for monetisation and....WE DID IT! I am now under review, which I've found out can take quite a long time considering what's happening in the world right now.
I basically began watching a bunch of people on YouTube who approached the platform like a business, which is something I've always been skeptical about as an Arts and Cultural student who often discusses the moral-ethical implications of social media platforms in an academic setting. But, once I started getting a grip on keywords, click-through rates, and other super technical almost mathematical things the YouTube SEO offers, it's beginning to click for me. Of course, I'm still trying to be as mindful as possible because staring at social media like it's a game of numbers can be veeery damaging for one's mental health, and it's what a lot of YouTubers/Instagram influencers have spoken up about before. Regardless, there is no harm in educating yourself in order to get the best results from the content you already make.
1. Maximising Viewers
I used to only promote my YouTube videos on Instagram, but now I'm starting to dabble in promoting it on Facebook again. It's super interesting how our actions change the minute our perception changes. When I started looking at my YouTube channel like a business, during my last YouTube Diaries entry, I started to think about it more actively; where can I share this? What can I say about it to make other people interested instead of just "new youtube video, link in bio!"? What kind of title should I give this to make sure other people will watch my stuff? How are other people marketing their content?
Turns out, every little detail counts. Yeah, we know how thumbnails and tags work, but there is a whole other world out there when it comes to the algorithm. There's an app called TubeBuddy that I downloaded to help me track keyword searches and to see how good the traffic/competition is for these words. If they're bad, I don't use them in my titles/tags, if they're good, I figure out how to truthfully incorporate them.
2. Market Research
I then did a little viewer recon as I took to Instagram and asked for people's opinions on my Insta Stories. Not all of my viewers follow me on Instagram, but many engaged subscribers go there as a way of personally contacting me to ask their questions, usually pertaining their own university careers. I asked them which of my videos they like the best, what other kinds of videos they'd like to see from me, what kind of videos they watch other YouTubers for, and what kind of content YouTube is lacking overall. Here are some of the answers:
By doing this brief research, where maybe only 10 people answered, I already got 10 new video ideas. I think the key to treating YouTube like a business is foregrounding the art part of it all. I don't particularly think my weekly vlogs are art per se, but it is genuine content I am interested in making, interested in watching from others, and want to actually share with people. If I'm instantly unenthusiastic after reading a video idea, I won't do it. There's no point in talking myself into doing something I'm not passionate about?
Another corner for me to journal in? What a surprise! Basically, I wanted to document my journey with YouTube for myself. I've wanted to be a Youtuber since I was maybe 11 years old, maybe younger. I started watching older girls go through they acrylic makeup organisers and high schoolers unrealistically decorate their lockers (funfact: the only time I decorated my locker was when I stuck a sticker-photobooth-picture of my friends and I doing embarrassing poses with the words "unicorn" drawn all over them and it stuck so well that it never came off. That picture is probably still on the #15 locker in my old middle school).
In 2013, I found the courage to make a YouTube channel. I called it SelWantsNutella because I was 14 and I grew up writing things like "unicorn" all over my pictures, so go figure. Junior year of high school I posted my first makeup tutorial where I tried to mask my awkwardness by dancing to Drake songs as I applied $3 e.l.f makeup on my face at 9 pm. In 2018, I posted my first sit-down video where I answered questions about university people had sent to me in my DMs. That Q&A now has over 44,000 views. It's an embarrassing video because you can tell I was nervous, and it was the first time strangers started picking apart at me on the internet. Now, in 2020, I've posted a controversial video where I get hate in the comment section almost everyday for speaking up about racism, I've posted a video that's only 1 minute long, and I had no issue with posting a 30 minute video of me just talking.
The growth has been slow because of my insecurities when it came to YouTube. I don't really curate my Instagram and I have countless hilarious pictures of myself on Facebook, but something always hurt my self-esteem when I imagined myself in my videos. It was always too much or not enough, no personality or too much weirdness, over-explaining or not talking at all. It honestly took people like Emma Chamberlain who weren't afraid to go bare-faced and make jokes about being yucky for me to realise that no one cares. Or, maybe they did when I was growing up, but they really don't anymore.
Right now, I actually am so close to being able to finally monetise my videos. I need 60 more public watch hours and there has been a shift in my energy towards it. I've always wanted YouTube to be a side hustle and a passion, but these last months it's been growing the way a job opportunity might. I've been doing more research, I've been getting into abundant meditation, I've been surrounded by people who are starting their own journeys, and I've only been wanting to edit and write down ideas. I don't like writing about stuff like this beforehand because my insecurities believe these daydreams are too far-fetched and my attitude is too self-congratulatory, but like, that's exactly what manifesting is! You're supposed to act like you already got it. And why not? If you're going to be boastful, at least do it about something you're fully passionate and have put your honest hard work into, no?
Even though I'm cringing as I'm typing this, I believe I can get big on YouTube. I think I have a lot of interesting ideas for a market that is still niche enough. I think I'm getting better at speaking in front of a camera, and that will grow (no pressure). I think I have all the skills necessary: internet lingo, videography, and editing. The last piece to this puzzle is my ego getting out of the way and allowing my spirit to shine so that it can connect to people. I won't lie and say that thinking of having a million, or even more, subscribes isn't scary...it's mortifying. But I know that I have the ability to get there if I'm willing to put in the work.
Wish me luck.
These past few years have been an uphill battle for minorities on the big screen. What with the rise of female/queer/POC-centric stories, the ongoing fight for what kind of sensitive content films should or should not show, and the endless platforms the divided public now get to post their opinions on, things can get pretty messy. Comic book films, in particular, have tried their best to be at the front lines of the movement. Female directed films like Wonder Woman, majority black casts like Black Panther, and films that push the artistic boundaries of the genre like The Joker have dominated the buzz amongst movie buffs on the internet. With this sensationalist formula in mind, how did DCU's Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) dir. Cathy Yan, a female directed film that promises women's solidarity, POC representation, and a unique cinematic style, ultimately flop as the weakest grossing DCU film?
The “minority” argument is not one the film world is most sensitive towards, but we can’t deny that it affects the experience of many viewers, whether positively or otherwise. But why is the representation thing so important? Simple answer: the things we consume form our reality. It’s true, identity politics within films may not be the root of the patriarchal system feminists try so hard to fight, but we can’t deny that it perpetuates narratives formed within the patriarchal context. The language used, the images shown, which actors are chosen, what they wear, how they’re presented; all of these aspects accumulate, perpetuate and reconfirm myths society has imposed on people, whether we realise it or not. It’s why stereotypes and cinematic tropes exist. These “stereotypes [then] become problematic when they lead to expectations about one social category over another or restrict opportu- nities for one social category over another” (Grau and Zotos).
Scholarly theories aside, identity politics might not be your cup of tea. Nevertheless, it doesn’t take an academic genius to know that all-woman, feral action-packed sequences are revolutionary when it comes to Hollywood cinema. Black Widow, who is played by the ever sexualized Scarlett Johansson, kicks butts while the camera trains on her actual rear, Wonder Woman, a literal Amazonian warrior goddess, walks the trenches like a Victoria Secret Model whilst dodging bullets, and even the former Harley Quinn herself fights in glorified underwear and a jacket that reads “Property of The Joker” with only one worry on her mind: making sure her hair is perfect for her criminal, abusive boyfriend. Identity politics or not, I can’t think of a single male character from the genre portrayed in a more ridiculous manner than what these female characters have to go through.
Contrastingly, in Birds of Prey, Harley is allowed to go...for lack of a better word, crazy. While trying to rescue Cassandra in a warehouse, Harley fights off a biker gang and she does not hold back. Using her signature bat, she isn’t worried about how she looks when she fights. She grunts, screams, she’s aggressive, goes for the gory and gritty like busting a guy’s knee caps. She’s still wearing her shorts and heels, but Yan does it in a way that isn’t disrespectful or sexualizing in any way. Her goal isn’t to look pretty, her goal is to keep a young girl safe.
Looking at the reviews, so many people brought up the argument that the movie was bad, and that “Social Justice Warriors” would use the “female-centric-film-card” as an excuse to argue otherwise. According to CNBC, the film debuted $48 million internationally, “bringing its worldwide gross to around $81.3 million” (Witten), making it the weakest opening of a DCU movie. Forbes speculates that the movie’s marketing, including trailers and sneak-peeks “may have turned off general moviegoers who still prefer somewhat conventional blockbuster fare, at least in terms of visuals and surface-level content” (Mendelson). While DC themselves believed it was the title of the film, and later changed it to 'Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey'.
Take a look at other recent male-dominated Hollywood action films. Mission Impossible, James Bond 007, Fast and Furious, Bad Boys, Transformers, all of the Avengers movies, and even Deadpool, who has often been dubbed the unorthodox Marvel equivalent of Harley Quinn. This brings me to my pont; all of these movies tick the same boxes Birds of Prey does - excess, explosions, unrealistic chases, wild stunts, bone-cracking sound effects, diabolical villains, oversaturation, fourth-wall breaking, punching, kicking, weapons, superpowers, flashy costumes, tongue-in-cheek humour, conventionally attractive actors. The only difference is, Birds of Prey is the first all-woman ensemble comic book film, which was enough to make people opt out of seeing it in theatres.
Because it was an all-woman ensemble, people also automatically associated the film with politics (feminism this, representation that...even though that stuff is real). When really, Yan has just done what so many other action films have done before. Birds of Prey is a Hollywood spectacle at its finest, but people seem to automatically shut down when they saw the word “emancipation” and realised it was probably going to be non-sexualised women's action. When in reality, if you know cultural studies, then you’d know that nothing is neutral. A male-dominated action film sells politics too, just not the politics we stereotypically associate with 'identity politics'. The straight white man isn't neutral. This whole thing only further proves the myths that women shouldn’t step out of line, and must only behave wildly if it is consumable for the heteronormative and objectifying male gaze, whereas "boys will be boys" and are naturally drawn to exploding cars. Why are viewers so afraid of an unruly woman, but are comfortable with an unruly man?
As a final statement: who cares if Birds of Prey is any good? It’s not about whether this film is worthy cinema since it centers around women. I can argue that The Joker was actually trash and deserved none of the Oscar buzz when compared to its contenders. But it's not about that, it’s about trash politics. Hollywood is about doing the most, going above and beyond, and doing so with an almost tacky flare...but who gets to indulge in that? Who gets to blow up the cars? And who gets to look pretty in the driver’s seat? Art is subjective, so we can sit here for hours debating whether or not the movie was good, but you can’t tell me that it wasn't innovative and feral eye candy, and sometimes that’s all there is to these mainstream action movies.
"Subway shoulders", as Tía Tefi calls them, are those little boddy jiggles we do on the public transport when a song is so good that we're willing to risk possible major embarrassment. Since most of us are staying home, I thought I'd give you some Quarantine Tunes that are so good, you'll be willing to risk your loved ones (or the ghosts living in your empty home) walking in on you dancing in the kitchen.
F I N E L I N E
Look, not writing about Harry's new album is proving to be a very difficult task for me. Plus, I don't have anymore music analysis classes to use as a stan vent so here I am. Irregardless of my undying love of this Aquarius man (shocker), this album is so good. This time around, Harry is leaning in to his 70's, Fleetwood Mac side even more than he did for his debut record and I am here for it. It's drugs, it's heartbreak, it's an evolved Aquarian. Young, old, human, gremlin, you'll enjoy 'Adore You'. There's no doubt about it.
D I R T Y C O M P U T E R
Dirty Computer makes you feel like the last song your inclusive girlfriends all out dance to before drifting in the wind on the car ride back home. You know that last song when you're all sweaty, arms over each other, huge grins because it's the perfect song that all of you know all the lyrics to? Every song on this album is that song. This is as close as we're going to get to tasting that good pre-quarantine life. I watched Janelle live in the Netherlands a while back and I have to say it was one of the most moving shows I had ever seen, and her energy translates through her audio too. Highly recommend.
F U T U R E N O S T A L G I A
Well, I wasn't going to not write about this one. Future Nostalgia is pure Postmodern deliciousness. Dua Lipa has never recorded a bad song, and now she's back with new stage presence, choreography, and hair envy. She transports every listener to the feminist Tron-themed car chase in 3035 and I honestly can't complain. I think Dua is bringing Lady Gaga, Katy Perry in 2010s level of flavour and I'm going to be baffled if people don't take advantage of the bread the music industry is FINALLY feeding us.
M E A N G I R L S
They call those girls the Plastics, they're shiny fake and hard....and they must be tired from carrying the whole show on their backs. No hate to Cady, Janis, or even Damien, this is just my songwriting and composing preferences. Every single Plastics song is to die for. My favourite Regina is a loving pair between Taylor Louderman and Renee Rapp, but there's something particularly devious about Taylor's more high-pitched, borderline Disney Princess voice she puts on to amp up the Femme Fatale schpeal. Also, that "Regina, Regina, Regina" ensemble scream in Revenge Party is my absolute favourite thing right now. Would it be a dream come true to be able to angry-sweet belt while a bunch of dudes carry me across the stage so that I won't have to walk in my heels? Definitely.
C A L M
We are being fed. FED. Luke's little "I don't think I like me anymore, would someone tell me who I was before" part in Thin White Lies? Oh my goooood. Get out of here. I wish the whole song was just that part. A whole track led by Calum's vocals? Leave. Leave now. I've been following 5SOS's music since I had to hunt for livestream screen recordings of them playing an acoustic version of Voodoo Doll and I have to say this is the best album they've released, solely based on their growing willingness to step out of their own idea of them. Does that make sense? (Tell me in the comments below!) There's something gritty and unnerving about CALM and I am pleasantly surprised by it. I hope to see more of it in the future. But for now, listen to Red Desert.
I’ve been spending the last half hour watching my own vlogs. Sometimes I watch my vlogs back, or scroll through my own Instagram, or even read my old blog posts. Call it Gen Z narcism, call it being a Leo, but I wanted to shed light on being more honest and vulnerable online. I think i’ve always done my best with being honest to my small group of viewers. I don’t like to glamourise, and I think that’s pretty obvious from the fact that I don’t blur things out or cut out the embarrassing shots of me, like crying or pimple-creamed faces or mid-sneeze noses. But I’ve been watching these videos of me living in my house, back in the Netherlands, and I can’t help but feel the loneliness coming off of them.
In my comment section and DMs, I often get younger people coming up to me and asking me how I do it. How are you always so productive? How do you find the time to keep up with your hobbies? How are you doing it all? Whereas in reality, I always feel lazy, like I’m not doing enough, like I’m running out of time (write day and night…if you know, you know). It’s definitely this weird blend of being a Type A + Impostor Syndrome (yeah, I just Googled ‘impersonator syndrome’) that = a mess. My view of myself as a student and basically employee of this capitalist system is always very warped and I feel both like an overachiever and a failure at all times.
More importantly, I feel lonely. It’s important to talk about the impostor syndrome stuff, I feel like I talk about my weird relationship with being productive all the time. In high school, when I took the International Baccalaureate (will she ever shut up about this? No, call this mental health reparations), I threw myself into my work. I was underweight, my cheeks were sullen, I never dressed up for myself beyond a shirt and jeans and I was a new girl in a new town filled with gorgeous and rich Instagram models. I was insecure and had no real self-confidence. I loved myself, sure (to be clear, I still do). Sometimes I felt good, but then I doubted myself and a person is so subjective, so abstract that it was hard for me to ground my opinions about myself—or anyone, really. But who can say I wasn’t a good, hard-working student if I was studying 24/7? If I really did ate, breathed and slept school, who could invalidate me then?
That changed, thankfully. In University, I learned the value of going out, of having dinner with friends and spending the weekends having fun instead of doing homework. I learned that professors have lives to live too and these experiences were going to go by quicker than I’d ever think. I learned the value of people, of moments, of living. I moved past the worst of my impostor syndrome freshman year of college when I took mindfulness courses and opened up about my mental health to the people around me, but I couldn’t seem to shake the feeling of not fully knowing myself.
Sure, I’ve just started my 20s. Who knows themselves at this age? Who knows themselves at any age? But my god, did it get lonely. I had built a life of being in the moment and of honesty that it felt hard to admit when it was difficult to be alone. My friends and family were more than gracious, constantly checking up on me and asking me if I needed company, but I hadn’t even come clean to myself, so I certainly wasn’t able to share with others what I didn’t yet consciously know. Somewhere along the last moments of my second year, I moved to a house my parents bought for their retirement (and for the rest of the family). It’s in a small village; a beautiful place where young families and perfect newborn babies live. The house is beautiful, with a backyard and three comfy rooms for me to choose from. But it was huge for someone who was living in a 15 meter-square room for two years. Too huge.
Like the Virgo Moon I am, I did a great job; I decorated the space, made it mine, cooked what I wanted, blasted music when I felt like I needed it, hosted lunches and sleepovers for my friends, had cleaning days on the weekends, took bubble baths when I felt like spoiling myself, listened to podcasts when I felt low. I did all the things I was supposed to do. And I loved it. I love having my own space. I love the quiet and the freedom.
But sometimes the quiet gets deafening, and when it’s bad, it gets real bad. Like, I have to make sure I’m on the phone with people at all times, or I start binge watching people’s vlogs on YouTube just so the house can feel full with human noise. Even now, it’s hard to admit these things because I’m quarantined with my family of five loud people (including the voice in my head) in a little apartment and sometimes I think, “I wouldn’t have to read while listening to the sound of my siblings slurping cereal if I was at home alone.” But come to think of it, I would probably start to lose myself if I had to be quarantined alone at home, paranoid and just hoping for someone else to start a conversation with me.
This isn’t a sob-story post, just so you know. Or rather, just so I know. It’s half an admittance, and half an act of honouring my feelings. I’m trying to learn how to do that more often. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written posts like these, only to draft them or delete them altogether, lest I felt like an oversharer. But I can’t imagine what others must go through, going abroad or living alone for the first time, confused and lost and just friggen’ tired of making their third bowl of pasta that week, but too afraid to try anything else. Smiling at their family on video call when they ask because it costs so much just to be breathing in this country. Awkward and stiff in a dorm with strangers, crying from the sheer frustration of not being able to do the laundry in peace. Or worse, living in a mess that isn’t caused by you but they’re not family so you have to figure out how to live with it. Learning how to be a good student, even at university, is a hard thing to do. It’s mentally draining for some. So, consider this a solidarity post.
I know that my loneliness is rooted in my need to grow up, to learn how to love myself enough to be okay with the radio silence - the same thing we’re supposed to do in meditation, right? To know myself enough to be the only reassurance I need, to feel whole enough that I don’t feel the need to fill my space with other people’s energies...but that’s a lifelong journey, and that stuff is not easy, no matter how much we oversimplify it with our “move in day!” vlogs and dorm Insta-stories.
So, next time you’re being a little harsh about this whole adulting thing, ask yourself if you can be kinder. Chances are, you should definitely be kinder to yourself.