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Is vlogging an artform?

Vlogging is anti-art

Opinion by Amanda Blackman

The practice of someone pointing a camera at themselves and vlogging may appear to be fun, but vlogging can have harmful effects for both viewers and vloggers. While my opponent will argue that vlogging is an artistic expression and worthy of the time investment, evidence points to vlogging as an “anti-art” artform.

The University of Twente recently conducted a study about the influence of YouTubers on teenagers. According to the study, nearly 60% of teenagers follow vloggers. That means that popular vloggers that have gained a following—who are mostly fully grown adults—are making money off of the attention of children.

The obsession of watching vlogs is leading young people to choose to invest in the lives of others instead of their own. According to the same study, the same teenagers—over half of today’s young people—spend over 11 hours per week on YouTube. The average teenager spends roughly eight hours at school, then comes home after extracurriculars to do homework, which easily fills up the majority of their free time. That staggering 11 hours per week means that young people think, instead of investing in their own lives, it is more beneficial to watch the daily antics of someone they have never met.

Vlogging forces people to only act in ways that they know will get views. This can be harmful for the vloggers themselves, as it can force them to stray away from their identity and focus solely on creating content to monetize. Take Michelle Phan for example. After years of pursuing a vlogging career on YouTube, she fled from the website because she lost sight of herself in the pursuit of getting views.

The purpose of artwork is not to remove value from life. Art is meant to add fulfillment. Saying that vlogging fits this description of art is naive. Vloggers monetize off of drawing millions of children away from their lives just to watch them point a camera at themselves. While on the surface vlogging appears to be a casual pastime, its hidden negative effects prove it to be antithetical to art.

Vlogging is expression

Opinion by Ashley Kim

To misunderstand vlogging as the opposite of art is to ignore the nuances that come along with the modern form of communication and content creation overall. Vlogging is what creators make of it. While it’s true that many vloggers just point the camera at themselves, vlogging can—and often does—go beyond this simple characteristic.

Vlogs are often a facet of filmmaking, which is proven by YouTube creator Casey Neistat. Between beautiful drone footage of New York (or wherever his travels take him) and landscape shots of breathtaking skylines and architecture, one of his nearly nine million subscribers will find Neistat speaking to his camera, putting his own twist on what he believes to be a vlog—or as he frequently calls them: short films.

Understanding vloggers as people who are only hungry for views is a gross generalization. Yes, views are a perk. But, for some people, it’s not about views. It’s about expression and immortalizing memories that otherwise wouldn’t be able to be relived.

Michelle Phan is known for being one of the original beauty vloggers on YouTube. While it’s true that she left the platform because she noticed herself becoming obsessed with views, this outcome isn’t true for everyone. Additionally, Phan’s leaving the platform doesn’t discredit her work as art. Her videos started simply: in front of a camera doing her own makeup, creating tutorials for viewers to do their own. They were art in its purest form and evolved into much more. And a look at some of her more recent videos will show viewers that her creative skills have evolved. Phan even built an entire career and launched her own company from beauty vlogging.

At the end of the day, vlogging is a form of expression, which is exactly what art is. How creators choose to express themselves is completely up to them, and that’s the beauty of art.

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