Home > I'm just saying, I'm not saying > Youtube makeup tutorials are the final significant artform

Youtube makeup tutorials are the final significant artform

Like a lot of people, I process and store “shocking” statistics taken from surveys in my head, but I have no real idea of where that information came from. This is the lasting contribution of the Daily Mail to the collective psyche. In very much the same way that your grandmother will all of a sudden become wary of Sikhs because 1 in 5 newbuild houses are purchased by them, I know for a fact that obesity as increased 30% in Greece since McDonalds began installing franchises there. I just don’t know where I got that number from.

Another fact scarred into my medulla oblongata is that 40% of children aged 11 to 16 in the UK believe they were be a celebrity when they grow up. Not “famous”, or “famous for being a good footballer or a big pop star”. Just a generic celebrity. And to me, this is wrong. There’s a switch in my brain that automatically flips and yells “spending your salad days of youth praying that an appropriate reality TV platform exists out there for you is wrong”. I think it’s because, like a lot of working class sellouts, I hold on to some fugacious notion of “dignity”. The idea that, yeah, I’ve done some shit in my time, but at least I’ve never worked as a gigolo/hitman/payday loan sales operative. And when you go on reality TV, you degrade yourself. Being a celebrity is a degrading condition in of itself, but then you add the fact that you’re going to be shitting on webcam for 60 days on the bounce and it just enters another tier.

However, I’m probably wrong. I feel that sacrificing dignity to become a generic C-list celebrity is a bad thing. But at the same time, I feel that sacrificing your mental well-being and neurological capacity in order to become a professional boxer is honorable. But think about it: if you had the choice between your son fingerbanding Makosi on national TV, or your son being a braindead vegetable who gets a “Whoops, my bad” text message from Nigel Benn once a year, you’d take the former every time. So maybe I should be embracing those degrading themselves in the pursuit of ever decreasing parcel drops of fame. Maybe Joe Francis is the Hugh Hefner of his day: whereas Hef combined  a pornographic revolution with a deep and ingrained belief in sexual equality and the right to choose, Francis combines it with the chance for our daughters to get a small level of celebrity in as safe a way as possible.

This is a video by “DiamondsAndHeels14”. She’s a self-knowingly quirky girl who probably thinks that Taylor Swift’s songs about ponies dancing through the high school prom are inspiring. She also has one of those face-and-bone structures that American teen magazines love: thin and attractive enough without being threateningly so. A High Street Honey for the PopSugar brigade.

“Foundation Routine (Full Coverage, Fingertips)” is a video she uploaded in December 2010 that, for some unknown reason, went supernova on white girl internet in June 2010 and now has 600,000 views, around 96% of those coming in the past three weeks.

It has been praised as an example of “braveness” and, to an extent, it is. I grew up in the era of Bud Dwyer and Traingirl, and even I winced a bit when she removed her makeup. It actually shocked me more than those photos of Katie Piper’s disfigured face, which is ridiculous: that bitch had a fucking bottle of acid thrown in her face and now looks like the melting Nazi from Indiana Jones. DiamondsAndHeels14, on the other hand, looks like… a teenager with acne. But the mundanity of it all makes it more shocking: one minute she looks like Sugar’s September 08 cover girl, the next she looks like a shaving rash.

Brave though? Well… eh. It’s a makeup tutorial video. She is showing you how to apply foundation to cover up acne. She mentions several major brand names that produce the products she applies to turn her from Manuel Noriega to Demi Lovato. She shows their logos to the camera. She specifically spells out eight specific products in her credits. Brave? Maybe. Cold calling viral marketing with the intent of attracting someone else’s attention? Peggy_hill_ho_yeah.wav

Let’s not front here: makeup tutorial videos are insanely big business if you play them right. Lauren Luke, aka “panacea81”, is a woman from the North of England who looks like… a woman from the North of England. In 2007 she uploaded her first makeup tutorial video. In 2011 she has her own Nintendo DS game, her own signature cosmetics range available globally, Guardian columns, the most subscriptions of any Brit on Youtube, and has even been written about in Vanity fucking Fair. Pick someone you think is famous. Manuel Neuer or John Cale or someone. Lauren Luke is about three times as famous as that person globally, and you’ve never paid a moment’s thought to her.

Makeup tutorial videos are a perfect catch for corporations: they’ve got a captive audience. They’ve got a captive audience that has disposable income. They’ve got a captive audience that feels affinity to the tutor. They’ve got an captive audience that is actively seeking this material out. And, most importantly, they’re actively seeking to be told what to buy in order to give themselves “the most glam Xmas party lashes ever”. So DiamondsAndHeels14 had her “Lose Yourself” moment here, her shot at the big time.

And if she makes it, fair play to her. It’s the sacrificing of dignity that makes me awkward though. Crying in public over a spot, deliberately showing yourself at your most emotionally vulnerable in order to nab a Mac sponsorship… you don’t do that in public, or at least you don’t do that if your parents are still alive to see it. And that’s the tradeoff that I have the problem with, and the tradeoff that I can never quite learn to make. The tradeoff between “level of dignity remaining” and “having enough cash that you never need to say ‘nah, just a water for me, payday isn’t until next week’”. It’s a balance I swing to the latter on. Fortunately for the internet, for corporations, for voyeurs and for people with sellable skills, there’s plenty of people more than happy to lurch towards the latter.

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  1. Nabisco
    June 16, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    fingerbanding?

  1. June 18, 2011 at 12:28 am

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