I feel as though I need to preface this argument by saying that I think it’s beautiful there exists a forum such as the internet where anyone can put there work out to the public. With that being said, therein lies inherent problems that arise from the sheer amount of content being put out in the culture, and also raises the topic of constructive criticism. Constructive criticism is invited whenever you place work of any kind in a public forum. You can however, “opt out” in a sense by disabling comments, or harsh modding of the community in which you have entered your work, but this is another argument for another day. The argument being made here today is one of constructive criticism, and the line in which it is disregarded, and simply becomes pandering.
Let us take the example of youtube videos first. Here we see no shortage of derivative channels, and personalities that are chomping at the masses in an attempt to either become famous, or support themselves financially. As stated, youtube is the aforementioned forum in which anyone can put their work to the masses for criticism or exhibition. Think of the millions of people who use youtube daily, this is a massive “market” for anyone trying to launch a platform. With such a massive install base, the law of averages works for more than a few people.
We see the quality of channels falter as each is just piggy-backing off the last popular personality. How many make up tutorials, how many Let’s Plays, how many amateur review channels do we need? It has reached the point where quality isn’t as important as simply entering into the foray in the first place. There has become such a large audience that it matters little what it is you do, and even less how well you do it, as there is sure to be an audience for it based on averages alone. If anyone can be someone for as little effort as possible, what’s the point in trying harder? Is there a reason at all?
This following example does not count for all youtube channels, however it sets the stage for the state of criticism versus pandering. Lets take the youtube personality of DSPGaming, a “popular” Let’s Player known for his mistreatment of his fanbase. A channel i’ve personally followed for sometime out of sheer fascination. Any attempts at criticism, or feedback is met with immense hostility, and ad hominem attacks towards the person. A blatant dismissal of criticism from outside the fanbase, and inside plus a mechanical flow of content screams pandering. Even incredibly popular personality Pewdiepie had some off color comments about negative reaction to his videos. These two examples are a fraction of the community i’m sure, though it’ something i’ve seen more and more of, and led me to ponder the state of criticism in an all digital, all inclusive age.
These personalities have continually dismissed any forms of criticism, and have stuck in their ways. They surround themselves by others who support, and laud them almost unconditionally. You could even call it worshipping at a certain level. This kind of behavior is pandering. Pandering at the expense of criticism.
I suppose the process of art is subjective in nature, and at a certain point, you can choose to ignore criticism as it’s more of an expression of inner forces. However, on a forum such as youtube with such big name players as i’ve mentioned who support themselves financially from their viewers, the name of the game is views, and subscriptions. This is a moot point at this level of the game so to speak. It would behoove one to incorporate feedback from the fanbase as to improve a certain channel, or possibly extend the reach of your audience. However, these two examples have proved me wrong, on two occasions. As mentioned, they simply surround themselves with a legion of like minded individuals who demand constant pandering. In return, they propagate the cycle.
I’m a man of science, so I know full well these two examples aren’t representative of the whole, however it always makes me wonder about my culture when “big players” on the chessboard cannot process constructive criticism. Criticism allows you to see yourself in a light you may not have realized before, sometimes our faults are put into light. Sometimes, criticism means admitting we were wrong, and this isn’t something everyone can do. I think most importantly, criticism is a testament to a persons character. It shows a desire to grow, to adapt for the right reasons, and this trumps pandering. Pandering is being the pied piper to keep the mice in line, accepting criticism is a personal achievement for the benefit of all involved.