In the early days of YouTube, life was much simpler. The platform was used by the talented to get the recognition they deserve. The old, unjust way of getting fame started to lose its sheen and more and more people started to get, the term which we started to hear a lot then, “overnight success”.
But as the contributers started to grow, the audience grew a lot more. YouTube, like every social media, became an addiction. The audience was ready to watch anything – be it a guy playing games and commenting, spoofs on Bollywood, reactions on trailers or any video you name, every conceivable pranks on random people, “vlogs”…and the list goes on and on. People started to realize that you may not actually need talent in order to become famous here.
As far as I remember, the trend of “let’s watch this coz it’s funny” started (in India at least) with Kolaveri Di. Yes, the song is pretty decent considering the hoard of talent I am about to talk about after this. But this was one of the first viral sensations. It was the first of such instances, where YouTube made some names household, for a song that literally took just 30 minutes to compose and write and which got “accidentally released”. How famous were they? Well, famous enough for the then PM to call Dhanush (who sang the song) as a “Guest of Honour”.
Slowly and at an alarming rate, more such songs kept on surfacing. A year after Kolaveri Di there was PSY’s Gangnam Style that officially registered itself as the most viewed YouTube video in history. It now became clear : pure talent won’t even get you to the top. You need a “viral-friendly” content for that.
Enter the elite club : comprising of stalwarts like Venu Mallesh, Taher Shah, Hero Alom and the current favourite – Dhinchak Pooja. With the confidence level of Trump who claims he will “make America great again” and attitude and swagger that would put Putin to shame, they kept on making videos. And we, with tissues in our hands to wipe of the tears of laughter, kept increasing their views.
What’s amazing is they also enjoy one of the best PR exercises you could get for free. Every top Indian Facebook pages regularly post about them, making lakhs of people recognize these hidden gems. So what if they are memes, and meant to be laughed upon. You do end up searching “dhinchak pooja song” on YouTube.
So how popular are they, really? They can’t be as popular as those who actually have talent, right? Wrong.
Today these self-proclaimed singers are getting much more popular than the original YouTubers like Shraddha Sharma and Shankar Tucker. It is like watching Indian Idol for the audition rejects
I have a theory : I don’t think YouTubers like Pooja or Mallesh are oblivious to the amount of talent they have (or the lack of it). Even if they are, a quick glance at their own comments or likes/dislikes would give them the hard truth. In my view, they continue doing it, even when knowing why they get those views. They must be following what Phineas Barnum said once *
“There is no such thing as bad publicity.”
And that is true for this platform, as they are getting remuneration for the views.
Of course, it won’t last long. It is only a matter of days before this Dhinchak is replaced by someone else of equal (or greater) caliber. But that is precisely what I think should stop. Or else, in a distant future, we may get to see Dhinchak Pooja collaborating with AR Rahman, Vennu Mallesh replacing Gulzar and Taher Shah….well he is missing somewhere so that won’t be a problem.
This sting of mediocrity is bitten not just music, but practically every genre out there. The quality of web series have taken a hit even though the quantity has hit the roof. Anyone with a laptop and internet connection looking for fame are making “reaction videos” (which I had talked about here). And finding the really good ones is now increasingly tough.
This won’t stop overnight, even if you want to. Our hyper-active facebook pages will make sure we continue to see such faces. But it’s upon us whether to ignore them, or invite them to the trending charts by constant tagging and reacts.
*I Googled that term and found out that the guy said it first. It was just to give the feel of a writer who knows things.