The media culture that began in the twentieth century has experienced continual evolution since the end of the second world war. The medium of choice has continaully shifted over the years, with television being the medium of choice from the sixties to the start of the new millenium, but since about 2010 or so the internet has eclipsed it as the medium of choice. The start of the internet age in particular is worth discussing here because the growth of online culture, and especially the medium of Youtube, has fundamentally altered the way people interact with culture.
During the mid-2000’s American Idol created a musical phenonemon, and it brought in millions of viewers every week, myself and my family included. Fast-forward to 2012, and a new phenomenon began. A Korean artist who was previously unknown in the west uploaded a music video. And yes, as the repressed memories begin to flood back, the artist in question is PSY, of Gangnam Style fame. In 2012, this video eclipsing one billion views was a huge deal, and at the time was the most viewed video in the platform’s history. There was a time where Gangnam Style had broken the platform’s viewer count. At present, it is only at fifth, with a staggering 3.3 billion views (Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You is currently in first, with about 4.1 billion views).
But perhaps the biggest change that has come with this new media age is not the way news networks or famous musicians have interacted with it. Rather, it is the way that regular people have been able to turn the platform into a livelihood. People have made careers off of Youtube with all manner of content. Youtube has offered a platform for people to present their music, art, opinions, or their sense of humor and created a medium for these creators to make a living from their work. And while creators have recently been suffering from Youtube’s often opaque policies and losing out on ad-revenue, many have been able to supplement their income using platforms such as Patreon, and are able to sustain themselves on donations from their fans.
Mass media has changed over the last century, and will continue to do so. But it can be argued that Youtube has been a more impactful development in the arena of popular culture than anything else in the past century.