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Why Do People Care?

Four teens from New York—Justine, Lucy, Florence, and Kate—explain the appeal of British YouTube celebrities.


The YouTube Boy Band.  

How did you find out about this world?
F: Justine and I used to watch makeup videos on YouTube, and they’d talk about the British YouTubers.
L: I saw Zoella first, ’cause she also does makeup videos. And then I was talking to Justine about it and I started watching her, and that led to watching her whole YouTuber friend group.

How much time do you guys spend watching this stuff?
F: Too much.
K: A lot. Like, if I have nothing to do that day, and my phone is at a high battery, I’ll watch it for a while.

K: Easily.
J: Once you start watching the videos, you feel included in their lives in a way. You feel like you know them so well, so it’s just so entertaining to watch them. They’ll kind of videotape everything they’re doing.

Do you watch much reality TV?
Everyone: No.

Doesn’t YouTube feel like the same thing?
L: No. It feels definitely more down-to-earth and real.
J: It’s not scripted.
L: You get really into their lives.
J: They’re all so different, too, so you get all of the different personalities.

Do you guys have favorites among the five?
L: Zoella.
F: Alfie, definitely.

So Zalfie [the coupling of Zoella and Alfie, in 2013] was a big deal.
F: Oh, yeah. When I read her blog, I texted Justine, I was like, “ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod.”
J: I think Jim and Tanya are really cute.
F: They’re getting married.
J: I like Marcus a lot.
F: Yeah, also, what recently happened is his girlfriend of a long time, she started an account. ’Cause, like, they’re all friends in real life too. So she’s been in a bunch of vlogs, and she just started a YouTube channel, and in like two days, she has a million subscribers. I took Justine for her birthday to see them live at this thing called DigiFest. It was on a big stage, and they were doing Twitter, you know. The boy band sang a little bit. They were obviously the highlight. But there were a bunch of other people, like Lohanthony.

Do you ever worry that they’ll run out of stuff to do?
Everyone: No.

Why not?
J: They document their lives, and there’s still 2 million views every time.

Are YouTube celebrities and other celebrities different in your head?
Everyone: Yeah.
F: It feels like they’re somewhat normal people. Brad Pitt is not a normal person.
K: Or like Harry Styles.
L: Also these YouTubers are not trying to do things for attention.
J: Obviously in ten years they’re still not going to be doing YouTube, right? I feel like they’re gonna have lives and children.
F: In ten years we’re not gonna be watching YouTube.
J: No no, that’s what I mean. Is there gonna be like a new generation? What if they suddenly just stop being on YouTube?
F: I feel like people are gonna know who they are.
K: Yeah, if you’re walking down the street and you see Zoella, you’re gonna recognize her.


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