Hey, guys – welcome back to TNTH.
Since I’m a huge fan of YouTube and their creators, I’ve also recognized that there are creators on their platform that are very problematic. *cough-LoganPaul-cough*
The thing about being a YouTube creator is that nine out of the ten times you’re uploading, you’re going to have some influence on the audience that you target. For example: if you’re a gamer that focuses on Five Nights at Freddy’s gameplay, lore, and updates on its creator, you are most likely going to target a younger audience of kids who are into the game. If you’re a beauty guru that vlogs all these cool and hip events in Downtown L.A, you’re most likely are targeting young women (and men) who are into beauty and makeup and all that jazz. Of course, your audience isn’t defined in that one circle of viewers, but the way you’re going to get new viewers is targeting to the things they like. If the majority of your audience finds you being their go-to YouTuber to review makeup palettes, you’re catering to that specific audience.
I say this because I truly believe some creators go on YouTube without realizing they’re pretty much selling their souls to the internet. You could be the most authentic person in your videos, but your viewers could have a hard time connecting with you, which they will easily conclude you as “being fake”.
I say this with one YouTuber in mind: Simply Kenna. Personally, I don’t support her so if you want to go and watch her videos after reading this, you could find her yourself. “Simply Kenna”, or McKenna, is a YouTuber who first got noticed because of her “aesthetically pleasing” looking Instagram page. It seemed like at first, people really enjoyed her content, and her subscriber count began to grow. People were able to connect with her until she started to get really comfortable on YouTube and started to share things that offended viewers and targeted audiences. Again, there’s a whole lot of videos that can catch you up on every problematic thing she’s done and said, so I advise you just find one and watch it.
What I want to talk about is McKenna during the last couple of months. Because most of her income comes from being an online presence, she has to keep her followers entertained. Every season, this girl changes her look, and her aesthetic. In the last year, McKenna has been very vocal about her interests in anime, which then expanded into BTS, which then expanded into everything about the East Asian culture. She’s traveled to Japan twice thus far, and since her travels, her interests in the Japanese culture have become more than just interests. It’s gotten to a point where she purposely tries to make herself appear East Asian through various photo apps, which people have started to call her out on.
People began to categorize her “appreciation of Japanese culture” as her “fetishizing” it. She has tried countless times again to use her “aro/ace” sexuality to defend how she can’t possibly fetishize Japan and its culture because she can’t feel sexual desires towards anything.
Girl, come on now.
I bring this up simply because this girl has a large following. She is an influencer. She chose to have this type of life and the message she is putting out there is a very problematic one. There is nothing wrong liking other things from another culture; many Americans are now starting to enjoy listening to K-Pop music (because of BTS, obviously) as a genre of music. Many people like to watch anime and the Japanese culture. But once you start enjoying something that isn’t a part of your own culture, it is only right to do some research behind it. I started to listen to K-Pop music (mainly girl groups) because the music was catchy and these girls are crazy talented. Because I like listening to them and watching them on South Korean variety shows, I also had to learn that K-Pop groups are only widely successful because they hold their groups on extremely strict rules and have them on extremely tight schedules. It’s honestly something that these young girls signed their lives away to, and the conditions these groups have to sometimes work in are extremely harsh. But, that’s honestly just a part of their culture that we, as Westerners, don’t always see.
People who appreciate a culture know that what they like isn’t the overall image. No, Black Culture isn’t just Drake and Cardi B, it’s years of violence and oppression that Black Americans are still going through. Japanese culture isn’t just Tokyo and “Kawaii” things, it’s a history of depression and high rates of suicide due to mental health being widely unacceptable and demeaning. Also, appreciating a culture also means that you, as a person that is not of that specific culture, are not trying to become a member of that said culture. No cornrows, head wraps, or blackface to fit in that culture.
McKenna is trying to convince to her following that what she is doing to the Japanese culture isn’t harmful or demeaning in any way, and what she’s doing is “appreciating” it. That’s extremely dangerous in a world where there are people who get murdered, stereotyped, and degraded for looking a certain way and being who they are. Yet we have white people calling it “fashion” or “appreciation”.
Honestly, if you feel the need to become completely immersed in a culture where you have to sit down and edit a photo of yourself to look like another race is beyond fetishizing. It’s mockery. You are showing insecure and naive followers who haven’t yet discovered themselves looking at that pretty edited picture wanting to look and be like that. That’s the sad thing about this all: she is not just some random girl from the street who culture appropriates on her own time. She’s not just making herself look like a fool. She is putting thousands of other girls and guys in danger because they see their influencer being able to look a certain way without any acknowledgment on her part that what she’s doing is wrong.
At the end of the day, use your platform to inform and express things that we, as an audience, can do to make a change in what’s going on. Hey, instead of just broadcasting a whole new makeup line and tell your audience to go out and buy it, tell them some information about the product that will be useful for them. What skin complexions/textures does it work for? Is there a cheaper dupe out there if the product is too expensive to purchase for viewers on a budget? Your viewers want to still be able to connect with you even after you “made it big”. Yeah, you worked your ass off to get where you’re at, and flaunt your shit, but stay true to yourself and your authenticity.
Then, it wouldn’t be so hard to be yourself.