We are now at the point where everything is on YouTube. Everything. From a beauty blog about blue eye shadow to a lost episode of Dad's Army, everything is documented, ranked and available to view at the drop of a hat. In fact, at the drop of a hat, you can watch several videos of hats being dropped and then rate them, leave a disparaging comment and see what other descending headwear videos have been recommended for you.
So who are the stars of YouTube? Well, there aren't any because it's such a forbidding, immeasurable behemoth that it's possible to be famous without people knowing who you are. Your videos could attract millions of views and subscribers and yet only occasionally would the established news media pay any attention to you - and even then, any articles would be written in such a conceited manner that they'd end up being more about the author's talent for managing to find you in the first place.
YouTube allows you to be unknown and celebrated simultaneously, and perhaps the most unfathomable of all the famous YouTubers are the men, women and children who unbox toys amateurishly. No one knows where they came from but the Amateurish Toy Unboxers of YouTube own the most subscribed channels in its history.
The most popular of all the Amateurish Toy Unboxers of YouTube is 'FunToyzCollector' who has over 4.5 million subscribers. Her top-ranked video is a 13-minute demonstration of a 'Winnie the Pooh Stacking Cups' toy which currently has just under 15 million views. The important thing to note here is 'views' does not mean 'viewers'. What these staggering statistics tell us is that there are an awful lot of Mums and Dads who rely on YouTube to give them a moment's peace.
Children love repetition and when they are permitted time on the computer or the phone, they will unswervingly watch the same videos over and over again. It is unclear why they would do this given a) the monotony of these videos and b) they can't play with the toys themselves. Nevertheless they watch and they watch obsessively, to such an extent that the Amateurish Toy Unboxers of YouTube have become unavoidably vast chapters in YouTube's story. And without exception, each video is a tedious and slapdash audio-visual experience that no one should ever see.
For a start, each title of these videos is written with the Google ranking in mind. So instead of writing hidden keywords to support the YouTube video, the Unboxers instead write long-winded and unreadable meta-tags in the title field. For instance, the Winnie the Pooh video has been named 'Winnie the Pooh Stacking Cups Surprise Eggs Tigger Eeyore Piglet Huevos Sorpresa Bubble Guppies MLP'. On top of everything else, this is the one element that irritates me the most. I hate keyword misuse; it's really Annoying Annoys Angry Me Pisses Off Frustration Mad Fist Shake Shaking Fuming.
And as we speak, this movement is making a big cultural leap. Unboxers are not only unboxing the toys but also playing with them. This of course adds extra pathos to the clips because there's nothing quite as upsetting as watching an adult hand moving a small anthropomorphic puppy around and doing the voices.
However, this artistic shift does not signal the bubble bursting any time soon, far from it. If there's one thing children like more than their favourite TV programme, it's watching a childless grown-up re-enact the programme amateurishly with toy figures. The most popular programme for reinterpretation is Thomas the Tank Engine. All over the world, men and women are setting up model train sets and retelling the classic adventures of everyone's favourite smiling, big-faced train, whilst doing their best to ensure the substandardness shines through.
The substandardness is important. It's an essential factor in this movement. Without the substandardness, the video could be interpreted as being professional, produced by someone with a background in film-making or storytelling or just holding a camera straight for 30 seconds. Viewing figures prove that children like their YouTube experience raw. They've no time for production values or timing or smooth tracking shots. They want monotone voices, unedited wobbling and slow-slow-fucking-slow scrolling credits.
It's impossible to analyse why children behave like this when they're handed an electronic device that allows them to watch anything they want in the world, but it is safe to say that their abuse of YouTube in this manner means that if your personal objective is to make an impact on YouTube - either by film, music, blogging, whatever - you'll be sharing your platform with someone who can spend fifteen minutes talking about the contents of a Kinder Egg.