Role of the Amateur (Q.5.)


Democratisation of new media has given consumers a whole new view on our modern society and the terms amateur and professional has become far more hazy since the beginning of the decade. Youtube was originally a video sharing website designed to let the general public share home made content which was majorly zero budget low quality content for example early viral videos such as star wars kid (2002), numa numa guy (2004), and leave brittany alone (2007) were all made with low quality cameras with very little to no editing. Today youtube has users ranging from top selling music artists and multinational corporations e.g. Fox and Disney to smaller producers such as film critics and to users who just unbox merchandise who today have access to affordable yet high spec equipment and software that enables them to garner millions of views. This has greatly expanded the role of an amateur  to distribute their content. An example of one of these semi-professional-semi-amateur producers is the Youtube channel comicbookgirl19. This independent channel was created in 2012 by two lovers of art and entertainment who create content around topics such as comics, animation, tv, movies, special effects and offer rare insights behind the politics of making art/entertainment in an increasingly algorithmic corporate industry. Since the channels conception they have garnered almost half a million subscribers which isn’t huge in comparison to other non-independent youtube channels such as IGN which boasts over 8 million subscribers. Although the channel is small it is capable of producing high quality content through crowd funds like patreon.

In 2016 comicbookgirl19 (cbg19) gave her and her channels opinion on the ghostbusters remake, a controversy which begun when sony pictures released the trailer featuring an all female cast was panned making it the most disliked movie trailer ever. Across mainstream media it was being circled that the reason it was received so poorly was because the new ghostbusters were all women. James Rolfe another film critic from the youtube channel cinemamassacre who gave the trailer a negative review was quickly labeled a sexist and a misogynist by several media outlets. Cbg19 comments that she was not attacked online for her similar opinions because she was a women, she iterates the reason the movie sparked a gender representation controversy was because sony focused on misogynist ‘trollesque’ comments to market the movie to the widely feminist general public as a way to cover up the fact they made a mediocre movie, in her words “this movie is blasé as f*ck and should never have been made”.


The honest yet raw review and opinion surrounding the ghostbusters film and its marketing by channel cbg19 was a rare opinion not found on many mainstream media outlets whose main function is to garner as much views/reads possible. The consequences of media democratisation has allowed smaller semi-amateur producers to offer their own uncensored critique on popular media which poses new challenges to our current media environment as these new smaller media outlets now have the means to better challenge mainstream media through their own independent content that can now be made and distributed to the same high quality specifications as large companies.



Power of Bloody Images (Q.2.Citizen Journalism)

No one video can sum up the horror of the brutal civil war in Syria though the footage of a pre-school boy, Omran Daqneesh being pulled from the rubble in Aleppo in August last year went viral on social media causing massive outcry world wide calling for an end to the conflict . This video became a rare icon in the sea of never ending video trends on facebook and has been compared to the chilling photo of Alan Kurdi a little boy who drowned while en route to Europe. Much like Kurdi’s  infamous posthumous photo Daqneesh became a literal poster child for intervention in the crisis. This video along with countless more that followed paved the way for the Aleppo ceasefire and evacuation.

As the city of Aleppo in 2016 was ravaged by conflict it was up to its citizens of the city to get news out as many journalists had previously fled the besieged city. These testimonials from the cities residents enduring through the bombardment were invaluable to news agencies like ITV who interviewed a teacher on his experiences trying to reassure his students during the air strikes. These citizen testimonials from the people on the ground in Syria brought the conflict into peoples consciousness as news has become so participatory thanks to social media especially youtube where Aleppo resident Lina Shamy regularly uploaded videos to her channel during this time. Citizen journalists proved themselves invaluable during the ceasefire exposing to the world that Syria and it allies held disregard for the internationally sanctioned peace agreement when they began to restart bombing the city a day after the ceasefire was agreed upon.

Were it not for the citizens of Aleppo I hold that the conflict may have gone by without the widespread recognition and outcry of the international public whose activism prompted international countries to convince Syrian forces into a ceasefire saving numerous civilian lives.