Agency Faves Asia recently got into hot soup for posting a widely-criticised video about social media influencers and their yearning for fame and fortune. They have also recently apologised for their video. But how much of this is fleeting, and why are such “influencers” boasting about their “content creation” but not talking about important matters of race and religion? Is there a more ethical way to chase for fame and sponsors? Donovan Choy from Libertarian Society Singapore opines on his Facebook page.
This post has been republished with permission.
[Update: Our writer Jovi Ho chimes in – “Stop Being Fooled By Influencers in Singapore: Here’s How“]
By Donovan Choy
I always chuckle a little inside when I hear one of these local social media influencers talk about how their careers should be passionately driven by “content creation”, not the pursuit of the fans, sponsors, fame and fortune.
Content creation – what does that entail exactly? Does that mean selfies of yourself in the VIP section of the club, pictures of your expensive brunches or you in your favourite yoga poses? Because all that could certainly qualify as “content”. Actually, anything can be considered content, as long as it wasn’t wholly plagiarised from another source. My ten word captions on Facebook can also be said to be me partaking in “content creation”. Snapping pictures of my cat mid-poop is certainly also my very original creation of content.
“Content creation” is a euphemism – and a sly one at that. When they talk about how they “create content”, there is an implicit assumption that the content they churn out is original, while at the same time concealing their actual intentions (fame and fortune). Scarcely anyone aside from 10-16 year olds think their content is entertaining, and even less original. The whole point of being an entertainer in my opinion (which is what I consider social media influencers to be although of course a lot of them are thoroughly unentertaining) is to create original and unique content that pushes artistic boundaries. If since they consider themselves to be passionate about content creation, I doubt they’d very much disagree with this view.
But how many of them can be said to be doing so? On Instagram, there is an endless torrent of food, fashion and travel pictures in boring, nearly identical manners. YouTube is hardly different; it is equally swamped by the same rudimentary types of listicle (10 Things Your Girlfriend Wants In Bed, or 12 Types of Ah Lians) and X versus Y type videos that appeals to the lowest common denominator.
When they claim to do it out of the love for “content creation”, this is utter bogus, nine times out of ten. Pay close attention to the ones who assert this heroic claim, then scrutinise the “content” they produce. If it were true, their content would differ vastly from the typical run-of-the-mill garden-variety “content”. It’s hardly the case. Go onto any of their Instagram pages and you’ll see the familiar waves of typical glamourous shots, drowning in a sea of materialism. Take a look at the endless mill of carbon copy videos manufactured weekly at YouTube factories like Jianhao Tan, WahBanana and N.O.C – Night Owl Cinematics. Then look at channels like Crash Course and The School of Life that are educational, informative and entertaining – all of which the aforementioned channels are not.
It seems to me that one of the clearest indicators that these influencers and content creators are fixated on their quest for fame and fortune is to simply look at their inaction. Is it a coincidence that 95% of these so-called influencers are largely silent on contentious topics such as politics, religion or race relations – important issues that shape the fabric of society? Could it be that they are devoid of any and all political opinions because they’re so tremendously uncaring or unintelligent?
I’d say no, on all three counts. They are hushed because they understand that venturing into these areas creates a disruption and rift in their fan bases, which inevitably leads to lesser followers, Likes and eventually a decline in sponsorships/media exposure opportunities. It is a deliberate and calculated effort to be silent on these issues, because they were driven from the very beginning by the pursuit of fame and fortune, and still are, no matter how many times they claim to be about “content creation”.
Social media influencers wield an amplified capacity to reach a wider audience. They call themselves “influencers” – how have they put their voices to positive use? How many of them have ventured into social activism? Even causes that already has the support of mainstream consensus, like LGBT rights – the bulk of the influencers are outright silent on these topics. They understand that going into any possible realm of disagreement with their current fanbase will inevitably lead to a net loss in fans. “Why risk anything” is the train of thought that reeks of cowardice and detestable apathy.
(A parody video by Daniel Peters)
Every one of these self-styled influencers and “content creators” are about the followers, sponsors and money that comes with it. Do not believe them for a second when they claim otherwise. That is why they straddle the current state of norms and trends of what’s “safe” to post because it’s what everyone else has been doing, because it’s been proven to attract the followers and fans, but most importantly because these are topics that steers clear of disagreement and divisiveness between their followers and themselves.
Do not misunderstand me here: I am indifferent to the fact that these influencers are in the pursuit of fame and fortune. I think if that’s all it takes for them to have some semblance of self-esteem, then by all means go forth and acquire it. Moreover, the only thing that enables them is the general populace through their social media Likes, so perhaps it could be said that it is a fitting reward for these individuals.
What I am addressing here is the hypocrisy.
The hypocrisy of pretending to be about “content creation”, as if the benefits of fame were merely incidental, as if it wasn’t the sole driving factor that led them to embark on this career path, as if all their social media behaviour did not revolve around what type of posts garnered more versus less Likes, as if negative dents in their popularity were merely fleeting thoughts and did not actually consume them like a nightmare.
(A parody video by mrbrown)
Some people blame the corporations and advertisers for enabling them because they throw the dollars behind these influencers. I disagree. Businesses simply react to the most efficient mediums for them to advertise their products. They who enable these influencers most, are the fans who feed them the social media Likes, the ones who share their “content” and create buzz for them. These influencers may perpetuate this materialistic culture, but it is us, who enabled them to begin with. Stop enabling them and we’ll see less baloney from “talent” agencies like Faves Asia.