Leafy and the Rise of Internet Media, A Formal Analysis
The age of the internet has brought forth many new ways in which media is developed and catered towards today’s audiences. Whereas previous forms of media, such as the television or radio, catered their programming towards the lowest common denominator of people to make a substantial profit, the age of the internet has, in other words, decentralized that same audience to the point where shows and stories now cater to extremely specific demographics and niches. This new found audience found solace in the invention of video sharing platforms that allowed its users to entertain themselves by curiously searching through various genres of personal videos. Chief among these platforms is YouTube, a website that once advertised itself as a place to “Broadcast Yourself” yet has backtracked on that statement for the past few years. Regardless of this, YouTube continues to be a bastion for new media as individual creators mix existing cultural conventions of storytelling and production with modern media software. This new method of video production develops new opportunities for unlikely individuals to connect with a large audience, inadvertently becoming the advent of the internet celebrity. This type of media is exemplified in a nearly 52 minute long video expose titled “Leafy Was Here” by a YouTube channel known as Emplemon.
In summary, this video’s intentions are twofold: to tell its audience the tragic tale of a fellow YouTube channel known as LeafyIsHere and analyze the causes behind LeafyIsHere’s tragedy. The video “Leafy Was Here” was developed in a non-linear video editing software known as “Sony Vegas Pro.” This recent program allows users to import and edit media in a timeline and is more cost effective than rival editing software like Adobe Premiere Pro. This allows creators like Emplemon to use various methods of storytelling that are not typically seen in today’s television programs or movies. Chief among these is the use of mixing media from previous works to visually aid in the story of LeafyIsHere. Many well-known properties such as Minecraft, The Simpsons, Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining,” Spongebob Squarepants, and even the fable of Icarus (he flew too close to the sun), are used as reference material to match with Emplemon’s narration within the video.
Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining,” in particular, is referenced multiple times in the expose’ as bits of the film along with text and narration implicate the metaphorical use of such previous work. Even if someone had not seen “The Shining” they could’ve gotten some idea about it with this video expose’. Thus, it stands to reason that these various materials from previous media, along with the audio storytelling from Emplemon himself, work together to cohesively tell a story that is most effective for modern day audiences to understand. A combination of old and new media, formulated together to develop a new story that is attuned to those who take part in YouTube, whether as a creator or viewer (sometimes one in the same).
This type of videography would likely not be able to air on television nor air in a movie theater because of the rules and regulations placed on those avenues of media. However, the fact that this video exists on a platform like YouTube exemplifies the new possibilities where audiences and creators can interact and create new media. At around 40 % through the expose’, Emplemon takes the time to spotlight individuals who had a direct hand in funding the project via the application known as “Patreon.” Individuals like Balto Lonewolf, Etienne-Senpai, etc. interact in Emplemon’s production process by directly funding him through Patreon, ultimately giving Emplemon the resources he needs to make videos like “ Leafy Was Here” possible for audiences to view and comment on. Moreover, Emplemon also takes the time for other people interested in funding his work by posting his Patreon link at the top of the video image as well as embed a link to his patreon in the video’s description below the channel’s tag. This sharing of information from Emplemon to the audience allows a new opportunity to make Emplemon’s work more collaborative. An audience member doesn’t need to be particularly wealthy to pitch into Emplemon’s video either. Just one click towards Emplemon’s Patreon shows that an audience member can contribute as little as $1 and still be a part of the production. This in turn shows how much people can use new media to share their support for an individual and their projects.
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As of now, Emplemon’s “Leafy Was Here” has reached an audience of about 3.3 million viewers. This impressive audience for Emplemon’s expose’ stands to reason that platforms like YouTube offer abundant opportunities for unknown creators to develop personal followings that in turn help them become celebrities of our time. Chief among these is a content creator known as Idubbbz.
He burst onto the scene with a video series known as “Content Cop,” a series that commented on controversial YouTubers like Keemstar and LeafyIsHere. These videos garnered Idubbbz millions of views which have given him nearly 8 million subscribers to date. Since then, Idubbbz has used this new following to feed into his own documentary films. The most notable of these films are “Ice Cream Man” and “Full Force,” both of which focus on stories that are obscure to the regular viewer if it weren’t for platforms like YouTube to give these documentaries the ability to garner a substantial audience.
Without these platforms, I’d rarely believe that I would come to know Idubbbz, LeafyIsHere, or Emplemon, nor care about their stories if it weren’t for platforms like YouTube. I’d go as far to say that these stories would not have been created if platforms like YouTube did not exist in our modern world. Stories like LeafyIsHere is one where opportunity of new media was used to the best of its ability. To create a story that would otherwise not exist, and give it the foundation for which it needed to impact millions of individuals. Many people seek to be like LeafyIsHere because new media offers them the opportunity to forge their own story. To tell the world of stories not seen in traditional media, stories that are personal, emotional, and connected to our generation. A media that makes us “Broadcast Yourself.”