YouTube faces Zac Efron video backlash

Zac Efron looking wistful, with 'The Greatest Showman' written behind him.Image copyright
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Zac Efron had a starring role in 2017 hit The Greatest Showman

“Oh good, another mainstream celebrity getting endorsed by YouTube.”

It is a comment indicative of YouTube’s fractious relationship with its users of late.

The video-sharing site saw its annual highlights package become the most-disliked video of all time in December 2018, while in February 2019 it was criticised after deleting the accounts of several prominent YouTubers.

Now a new storm is brewing, and it centres around A-list celebrities.

Zac Efron is the latest Hollywood star to crossover to YouTube, with his first video published on 30 March 2019.

Though he might not have expected such a divisive response when he started his channel.

While there are plenty of Efron fans excited about the prospect – the video’s comments section is overwhelmingly positive – there are others who are less convinced.

The frustration for these people is not the star himself, but rather the way his new video has been promoted.

A Twitter post from YouTube urging followers to watch his video has drawn consternation, with many asking why the celebrity is getting special treatment.

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‘Keep the ‘you’ in YouTube’

For some people, this represents a cultural shift of sorts.

The YouTube platform ostensibly gives the same opportunity to everyone who uploads a video – anyone could become “the next big thing”.

Popular personalities like PewDiePie, Zoella and MrBeast all started out as so-called “smaller creators”, making videos that were being watched by a handful of people.

For some, the frustration comes from fear that mainstream celebrities will draw attention away from smaller creators, making it even harder to break through.

For others, it is simply that these celebrities are given an even bigger advantage by YouTube using its social channels to promote them.

‘Ah, that’s hot, that’s real hot’

Zac Efron is not the first celebrity to make his way onto YouTube.

Jack Black made his debut in December 2018, though he earned support by referencing popular YouTubers and leaving his teenage son in charge behind-the-scenes.

On the other side of this is Will Smith, whose high production value videos including a helicopter bungee jump might seem more at home on traditional television.

The difference between the two comes down to YouTube itself.

The platform has not promoted Black’s JablinskiGames channel on social media, while it promoted several videos by Smith in 2018 drawing tongue-in-cheek criticism from fans.

YouTube has been approached for comment.

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