Why YouTubers Are Essential to the Future of American Democracy

Posted on: by Michael Tringe

At first glance, VidCon 2015 looks like a lot of teenagers running around filming selfies of pranks and other things. But when we heard about religious protestors harassing attendees telling them they were evil – that’s when I noticed something much deeper going on that is central to the future of American democracy.

Why were these protests happening that seemed to rain on the parade of jubilant video creators? Free speech has always been a fundamental right in the U.S. But when the technology became accessible enough for us to make videos quickly to say what we thought, free speech got a whole lot freer, and opinions previously hidden were set free. It’s no secret the YouTube video creators are often times the unheard, the unseen, and unspoken minority in the world of mass media. And now that other vocal minorities have seen them – they’re nervous. But that – is a very good thing.

I was walking from one event to another wearing my company t-shirt as most startup people do at conferences, when a voice from behind me said, “Are you with CreatorUp?” I turned around, and I met Amy. She told me she was from Australia and wanted to know if we were doing the production skills panel the next day, and then she went on to tell me about how she made a short film that blew up in Indonesia about a man who was responsible for the rehabilitation of thousands of refugees, but who had been wrongly executed for having a few grams of drugs on him.

Amy wasn’t trying to make a viral video. She was trying to tell a story of man who she felt was wrongfully killed. She was seventeen when she made the video – and she made a big enough impact to be interviewed by major news outlets back in Australia where she was from.

This was the first year of the “Creator” track at VidCon, catering to the more-than-just-fans crowd of VidCon attendees who are actively creating new videos. They are doing more than just self-indulgent selfies and making prank videos, and they are certainly not worried about chasing around other YouTubers getting signed t-shirts and hands. They are telling their story, making videos about things they are deeply passionate about, and they are sharing their voices.

These video creators are making the world a much more interesting place to live. They are truly diversifying the media landscape in ways that have never been done before. In a world where political campaigns buy mainstream ads of politicians blending up their cell phones, and where media companies big and small cover the same tired story of overblown political candidates like Trump, these video creators are a breath of fresh air.

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Written by Michael Tringe

Mike Tringe earned his MFA in Film Production from USC and has worked at Creative Artists Agency Film Sales (Paranormal Activity, Black Swan), Vuguru, Michael Eisner's multi-platform studio, (The Booth at the End (Hulu), Don't Ask, Don't Tell (Snag), Little Women Big Cars (AOL), and Blip Networks (300 million monthly views, Smosh, Annoying Orange, Nostalgia Critic).

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