The ‘vlogpology’: a video released when a vlogger makes unwanted headlines. This is a concept that has become synonymous with the platform of YouTube and if you have somehow managed to have escape this insincere trend, count yourself lucky.
Iconic YouTubers, such as James Charles, Logan Paul, and Tati Westbrook have all produced questionable apology videos attempting to atone for their often highly unacceptable behavior. Having accumulated 123 million views between them, there is arguably a financial incentive behind these endeavours. Also, with the likes of James Charles institutionalising the ‘vlogpology’, teaching up-and-coming YouTubers how to perfect a faultless apology in his new competition “Instant Influencer”, maybe we should be questioning their integrity.
How hard is it to produce a heartfelt apology? Apparently pretty hard when it might not be your intention at all. At the end of the day, this media platform is a YouTuber’s business, their career, a very lucrative career at that. From the awful acting, to the ‘emotive pauses’, arguably these videos are produced as a business venture and nothing more. So, how do these young entrepreneurs know it will gain them buzz? Well, that’s where the blame falls on us.
Have you ever overheard a conversation that does not involve you, at all, yet you keep listening intently? There is nothing better than good old gossip, tension, and comedic drama. Natural human curiosity in the case of the ‘click’ is fuelled by our evidently nosey nature. We cannot resist. Like any commercial product that is trending, to miss out would be to damage our reputation as a generation obsessed with all things social. The apology video capitalises on pure unadulterated curiosity.
However, when questioning why these videos are produced there might be a more sinister angle that we are not addressing here. Social media, YouTube specifically, as of recent times, has become dominated by ‘cancel culture’. A movement where subscribers have the ability to damage a creator’s reputation and wipe their existence from the social platform with a few taps of the keyboard. Do YouTubers have a right to be scared then? To try overly hard to be apologetic? Some might argue that if they are more worried about getting cancelled than they are about their actual behaviour, they should do us a favour and not even attempt a dispassionate apology.
However, fresh victims of the infamous social trolls, including the likes of Olivia Jade and Charli D’Amelio, show just how brutal ‘cancel culture’ has become. The latter was recently torn to shreds for acting like a ‘spoiled brat’ in a new family YouTube video. This resulted in the rapid loss of 1 million followers along with a stream of excessively violent death threats. The 16-year-old released a sobbing response where she outed subscribers for “blatantly disrespecting the fact that [she is] still a human being”. When online trolling becomes so threatening, a genuine apology therefore, may be hard to conduct. The fear of messing up is dominating content, with ‘disclaimers’ being given before any opinion is aired.
So sure, YouTubers’ seemingly insincere videos really rub us up the wrong way because they are just that: a video, arguably used as a means of profit and protection. However, they are not the only guilty party. The culture of fear and judgment that surrounds YouTube is palpable. Whilst accountability is key and mistakes should not be defended, nor necessarily forgotten, should they be the be all and end all?
Our curiosity feeds our incentive to give in to clickbait, to witness a YouTuber’s often clinical attempt to prevent their careers from unravelling. So, who is the bigger villain here? The consumer or the creator? Ultimately the viewers have the capacity to maintain a YouTuber’s affluence or terminate their creative existence, the choice literally lies at our fingertips. It is an overwhelmingly powerful capability that undoubtedly keeps every creator awake at night.
– Lotti Norman
Featured Image Source: Still via Tati // YouTube.