Watching Movies Through the Eyes of Influencers

Hi, and welcome to this long awaited blog post series. I will be uploading three posts in this series, focusing on the movie commentary community on Youtube, and how members of this niche interact with one another, think, and feel. My main goal is to understand if, and to what degree, Youtubers influence how audience members respond to not only their content, but the original film being played. Today’s post will showcase the field notes I’ve gathered over the last couple of months.

What Are the Videos Like?

The videos in this niche involve Youtubers reacting to, or commentating on, films or tv series. This is done by playing the movie/series in the background, with the content creator in a small bubble or square in a corner of the screen. The commentary from these Youtubers add a level of humour and interest. This is because they openly share their unfiltered thoughts and feelings about the events taking place, while raising fascinating points about the deeper themes of what is being shown.

What Do These Content Creators Talk About?

Most videos begin with a short introduction of the film or series being reviewed, in which the Youtubers include brief discussions about the cast, what’s being said in the media, or their general expectations of the film. However, the duration of the film is often spent talking about the deeper aspects. To use as an example for this part of my research, I sat down, watched a video, and took notes on what was being discussed most frequently. Here are my results after viewing Trin Lovell’s reaction to Jennifer’s Body.

Figure 1

The brief 2-minute introduction consisted of comments about the background of the film, its previous response by fans and the media, some of the controversy surrounding it, and concluding with the movie’s genre. A list, as well as a tally, was made throughout the reaction part of the video, which is embedded above. The most objective comments were made about the film’s colouring and camera work. However, the more subjective comments included Trin’s love for the film, and her thoughts about the dialogue and storyline choices. The concluding statement consisted of comments about the chemistry between the actors, praise for how well it was written and directed, and her appreciation for having a female director.

It’s a prominent theme among all creators in this niche, to begin the video with a joke unaffiliated with the film, and run with it for the duration of the video. In this particular video, it was a gag about the band Panic! At The Disco, to which Trin referred to them a total of five times. This type of running gag, in a way, creates an inside joke between the creator and viewer, and can then be referred back to at any time, solidifying the community as a whole.

What Are Some Other Aspects of the Niche?

Certain comments made by these content creators often spark up discussions in the comment section, to which viewers reply to, and debate with others. The most common types of comments pertain to the cast, quotes made by the Youtubers, and the overall storyline of the film. The replies to these comments are mostly in agreement to what is being said. 

Another huge aspect of this niche is the online presence outside of the Youtube space. Twitter and Instagram are the biggest platforms used by fans to interact with their favourite Youtubers. On Instagran, the main content creators average 80k followers and 140 posts. On Twitter, they average 45k followers and 3,000 posts. The use of comments, shares, likes, and DMs enable more of a connection between the two parties. For this reason, I have created a Twitter account that is open to the public, and is dedicated to posting short out-of-context videos of the top three main creators in the niche — Dylan Matthews, Trin Lovell, and Pretty Much It. I will talk more about this in detail, in my third blog post, available here.

What Does This Niche Mean to People?

Watching videos in this niche brings viewers a sense of community and stress relief. For me personally, I gravitate towards these videos to find comfort. I find safety in the comedic comments made by the content creators.

Reference List:

Airoldi, M. (2018). ‘Ethnography and the digital fields of social media’, International Journal of Social Research Methodology, vol. 21, no. 6, pp. 661 -673.

Popova, M. (2020). ‘Follow the Trope: A Digital Auto-ethnography for Fan Studies’, Fan Studies Methodologies, no. 33.

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