Vlogs have now become one of the most common video genres on sites like YouTube, and some vlogs are so popular that they even have dedicated fandoms, creating a cult-like follower base for these intelligent filmmakers . For instance, using an example that I have brought up before, “The Vlogbrothers” is one of the most famous YouTube channels, earning millions of views per video thanks to the fanbase, who they call “Nerdfighters”. John and Hank Green, who created an internet vlog to maintain their relationship when one of them moved across the country, became internet phenomenons thanks to their witty videos with intellectual ideas. They represent the entire genre of vlogging: vlogs start out small, and can be useful for things like keeping in touch with family and friends, but later as they grow the vloggers begin to address a bigger audience. As the Vlogbrothers found fame online, they slowly began to get outside recognition. They have been featured at conventions and have been on multiple tours of the country to meet their fans, and thanks to YouTube’s ads, they make a significant amount of money with every video that they produce. Their success has led to an entire webpage with a record label, a community of people who assist in the Vlogbrothers’ many charity events (they’ve raised over a million dollars for a site called Kiva), and a full merchandise store. Clearly, this channel is a prime example of the triumphs that can come from making independent, online videos.
The genre of educational vlogs has really skyrocketed in the past few years thanks to the popular vlogs that have led this revolution. Though this category of videos may seem like just a fad, it is hard to see an end in sight. In fact, I predict that vlogs will be a long-lasting internet phenomenon because of the opportunities they present. Humans tend to be very egotistical and self-centered, and therefore they are intrigued by the fact that vlogs create a platform on which to voice their opinions and get attention from people across the world. People have noted the fame and fortune that comes from running a successful vlog, and as resources like cameras and computers become easier to get a hold of, more and more people decide to start a vlog in the vein opinion that they will change the world from their seemingly superior ideas. The younger generation also shows much promise in the continuation of this genre thanks to the many teens who dedicate their time towards vlogging. YouTube even created and entire new feature simply to target opinionated vloggers. There is a small bar below each video entitled “Responses to the Video”, in which people can post their own reactions or opinions about each video in a simple vlog. In a way, this now allows us to see a vlog about a vlog, creating a “meta” genre.
The idea of vlogging grew out of only a few video-based blog posts, but even after ten years, vlogs still take on the same format and goal. Though they’ve become more entertaining (many educational vlogs have started using visual aids and background music), vlogs still stay true to the definition of a single person addressing their audience and creating a self-made video which displays their own views and ideas. The one thing that has evolved over time is the size of the audience that most vlogs focus on. The origin of vlogs, as we’ve established, was when a man wanted to show his family where he’d moved to. Vlogs originally were geared towards smaller, familial audiences until the quest for fame took a hold of the vloggers. As a vlog grows, it begins to target larger audiences, becoming more of a soapbox on which to voice ideas and reach a large group of people. This idea alone makes it easy to see why so many people take interest in vlogging: you can talk into your webcam and have thousands, if not millions, of people hear your voice and listen to your ideas. Even more interesting is the fact that each audience member gains a sense of importance by the intimacy of a vlog: it feels like having a one-on-one conversation with somebody, and it’s easy to ignore the fact that so many other people are watching the exact same video and feeling the same sense of intimacy. So, while the audience of vlogs has drastically changed throughout the years, they still contain their same sense of personal, intimate conversations in which to share ideas and voice opinions.
The one threat that vlogs do face is the notion that superior vlogs belong outside of digital media and instead should be featured in more visible places, like television and radio. The Vlogbrothers’ success story is not all that unique: many educational vloggers have also gained fame in the world outside of the internet, and the television networks do their best to scout out prominent vlogs and offer the vloggers their own contract. Though the TV networks do pose a threat to the future of vlogging, it is doubtful that any prominent vloggers will accept the offers from the greedy networks. The style of vlogging is so drastically different from television because of the creative space that the filmmakers have when they are able to edit and produce their own videos. John Green recently posted a video
about why he and Hank turn down offers from television shows, explaining that the entire point of a vlog is to create your own work and make it more personal. Using a television show as a medium from which to address a group of people is not nearly as effective as making your own YouTube video because the television networks will control what the vloggers say and do, making for a more edited, scripted show instead of the natural flow of a YouTube video. So, while this threat is still applicable, it is not likely that the greediness of larger corporations will put and end to online vlogs.