"Jobless" celebrities can't stop podcasting
Someone cast Tom Felton, please.
Keep scrolling for the latest installment of David Dobrik’s legal troubles.
The Verge has curated a series reflecting on the absolute chaos that 2023 has been for Twitter (or X, as it is now known). With three articles and an interactive “exhibit” showcasing some of the most iconic tweets, the series breaks down the highs and lows of the platform.
It begins with a piece written by Zoë Schiffer, titled “Extremely Softcore.” Schiffer delves into Twitter’s origins and the early days of Elon Musk’s reign. Along the way, she dives into the company's workplace culture and overall political and cultural dominance.
She makes the point that what once made Twitter "attractive"— the dedication to promoting healthy discussions and inclusivity, even if it didn't always pan out that way— made Twitter "an easy target for Elon Musk."
Amid claims of shadowbanning and the ongoing tug-of-war between conservatives and progressives, Musk swooped in and bought the platform for $44 billion, intending to make Twitter "a more aggressive business" and reorient "the company around protecting free speech."
The series follows with "Goodbye to all that harassment," a reflective piece penned by Sarah Jeong.
She shares her own experience being "cancelled" by the right-wing flank of Twitter— where she became known as "the reverse racist lady, the Asian who hates white people."
Jeong also discusses the nature of Twitter virality, noting that the “easiest way to incite engagement is to piggyback off someone else.” While these discussions can connect like-minded individuals, this mentality is also what made Twitter a “hellscape” of unregulated hate.
“On other social networks, an account holder or group of moderators can remove content from within a localized realm…” Jeong writes. “In the world of social media giants, Twitter gives the least number of options to its communities.”
Twitter was the go-to platform for real-time news, direct access to influential figures, and the discussion of unfolding events. But, as Patel writes, this hasn't been without consequences, especially for traditional journalism.
“Reporters around the world provided Twitter with real-time news and commentary for free, increasingly learning to shape stories for the algorithm instead of their actual readers,” he writes. “Meanwhile, the media companies they worked for faced an exodus of their biggest advertising clients to social platforms…”
As X continues to crumble under Musk’s leadership, Patel questions whether journalists will “rush” to the next platform that promises influence, traffic and revenue, even after Twitter completely disrupted news media.
Read the full series via The Verge.
While Musk’s leadership has created a lot of problems for X, one of the most prominent issues is how the platform is becoming a refuge for alt-right internet users. In a new piece for The Washington Post, Taylor Lorenz explores how far-right creators continue to make money online and what people like Nandini Jammi are doing to stop them.
Since taking over Twitter, Musk has reinstated a number of controversial figures (think right-wing conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones and former US President Donald Trump).
The rise of far-right creators, Lorenz notes, is symptomatic of a broader trend in news consumption and advertising, where just about anything can become politicised.
This “personality-driven” model of news and media, “appeals to advertisers who either agree with the political agenda or simply want their ads in front of as many eyeballs as possible,” Lorenz writes. “But other advertisers are unaware of the content they’re sponsoring because of the complex nature of online advertising, where automated systems often place ads directly on websites according to availability without any human contact between the site and the advertiser.”
Back in 2016, Nandini noticed conservative news outlets tended to rely on these programmatic ads— leading to the birth of Check My Ads, a nonprofit co-founded by Nandini dedicated to ensuring accountability in ad tech.
“Check My Ads exposes the tactics that adtech companies use to push advertiser dollars towards hate and disinformation outlets, holding them accountable to their clients and to the public,” the company’s website reads.
Nandini uses her social media platforms to highlight the advertisers who remain associated with the far-right while reporting fraudulent and criminal digital advertising.
She has already found significant success in the fight against disinformation and hatred— having persuaded advertisers to pull marketing dollars from far-right figures while educating internet users about complicated digital revenue models.
“It’s so important to focus on their revenue streams because it hits at the heart of their business model,” Nandini tells Lorenz. “These bad actors have made a business out of publishing increasingly extreme and hateful content because it makes them money. With that money, they’re able to expand their operations. They can hire new influencers and writers to scale the production of content around these narratives that they’ve built.”
Read the full piece via The Washington Post.
Speaking of problematic influencers, David Dobrik has found himself in more legal trouble. On a recent episode of the H3 Podcast, Ethan Klein shared that State Farm General Insurance Company is suing David regarding his ongoing legal battle with Jeff Wittek.
Back in 2020, Jeff sustained severe injuries while filming a stunt for David’s vlog. In the bit, Jeff swung from a rope attached to an excavator parked in a lake and then crashed. At the time, David was controlling the excavator.
Jeff later sued David for general negligence and intentional tort, seeking over $10 million in damages.
Ethan and the H3 Podcast crew found evidence of the new lawsuit after it was posted in the r/h3h3productions subreddit.
The case details were published in October, with State Farm filing a complaint for “Declaratory Relief,” essentially asking to waive the responsibility of covering the expenses relating to the incident.
Ethan explained that David had Homeowner's insurance and a “Personal Liability Umbrella Policy” with State Farm Insurance.
Through these policies, he had additional coverage against personal claims, such as, “bodily injury” and "defamation of character, libel, or slander." However, this does not extend to anything business-related.
While the policies were in effect during the excavator incident, State Farm claims they are not obligated to cover the accident, citing "exclusions related to business pursuits and potential workers compensation eligibility."
Members of the Vlog Squad were not considered direct employees of David, even though many built careers off his videos. But the fact they were filming for David’s YouTube channel, which is associated with David Dobrik LLC, certainly blurs the lines between employer and friendship.
Watch the video via the H3 Podcast YouTube Channel.
Commentary creator, Casey Aonso, recently uploaded a video on her YouTube channel, diving into the phenomenon of "jobless" celebrities— a category David Dobrik might fall into if his legal issues don't pan out in his favour…
Casey discusses several celebrities that have been dubbed "jobless" in recent years, pointing to iconic stars from the 2010s like Tyler Posey and Taylor Lautner.
While these celebrities are not actually unemployed, internet users tend to call people "jobless" if they are trying to capitalise off a single project that ended years ago.
One celebrity who can't seem to beat the jobless allegations is Tom Felton, AKA Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter series.
Since the rise of #DracoTok (a niche corner of TikTok where people thirst over Tom's performance in Harry Potter), the actor has become a mainstay on the short-form video app.
Amassing over 10 million TikTok followers, Tom continues to capitalise off the series, with the majority of his content being Harry Potter-adjacent. He even parlayed the DracoTok trend into a book deal.
"One thing Tom Felton has done right is going the book route. He put out a memoir called Beyond The Wand. In my opinion, this is definitely the safest way to nostalgia-bait because it is just such a tried and true method," Casey says.
Casey also mentions how the podcasting boom has brought ex-stars back into the mainstream, with many subsequently earning the "jobless" title.
She specifically points to PodCo — a podcasting network that produces shows featuring Disney and Nickelodeon stars from the 2010s. Some of the most popular podcasts include the ‘Wizards Of Waverly Pod’ and ‘Ned's Declassified Podcast Survival Guide.’
All that to say, it seems that many celebrities who fall into the “jobless” category come from a pre-social media era, where maintaining relevance and fame without a steady flow of projects was more challenging.
"I think an annoying battle that pre-social media actors have to deal with is that because people couldn't follow them online in the moment when they were super relevant the way we could with stars in the 2010s onward, they have to resort to being a lot more cringey with the way that they promote themselves just to get back on the radar," Casey concludes.
Watch Casey’s full video via YouTube.
A new piece by Derek Thompson for The Atlantic’s ‘Work In Progress’ newsletter explores how the way we speak about mental health online may be making things harder.
Content addressing issues like anxiety, trauma, and depression has become popular on social media. Both creators and “average” internet users are choosing to open up about their mental health struggles.
“Instagram is full of anxious confessions and therapy-speak. The TikTok hashtag #Trauma has more than 6 billion views. According to Listen Notes, a podcast search engine, more than 5,500 podcasts have the word trauma in their title,” Thompson begins.
Open conversations about mental illness play a crucial role in destigmatising help-seeking and building a sense of camaraderie. However, as Thompson notes, the emergence of anxiety as a sort of "media category" may be contributing to the "anxiety crisis" among Gen Z.
Being overexposed to this sort of content may leave young people problematising “everyday” struggles, leading them to believe they are struggling with anxiety and declining mental health.
“This can trigger a self-fulfilling spiral: Some individuals who become hyperaware of the prevalence of anxiety disorders may start to process low levels of anxiety as signs of their own disorder, which leads them to recoil from social activities and practice other forms of behavioral avoidance, which exacerbates their anxiety,” Thompson writes.
This is only worsened by social media algorithms. Rather than working through feelings of distress, internet users are often left trapped in “whirlpools of outrage, doubt, and anger.”
While the content on the TikTok FYP or Instagram Explore page may have a therapeutic impact, Thompson maintains that there is a difference between normalising therapy and celebrating “Therapy Media—nonexpert, one-to-1-million broadcasts about mental health.”
“We may have overcorrected from an era when mental health was shameful to talk about to an era when some vulnerable people surround themselves with conversations and media about anxiety and depression,” he concludes. “[But] the best thing we can do for ourselves when we’re anxious or depressed is to fight our instinct to avoid and ruminate, rather than get sucked into algorithmic wormholes of avoidance and rumination.”
Read the full piece via The Atlantic.
For the final episode of season 4, this week’s infinite scroll podcast explores the world of YouTube drama channels alongside one of the category’s most prominent creators, Kristi Cook, AKA Spill Sesh. We first give some background on Kristi and her channel before looking at the history of drama channels and how they operate. We finish by exploring the relationship between drama channels and traditional media, how they impact each other, and share our opinions on what the future of internet culture reporting looks like.