Charli D’Amelio, TikTok's biggest star with 124 million followers, is the latest social media influencer to attempt to translate her massive following to television via Hulu's The D’Amelio Show. She's co-starring in the Keeping Up with the Kardashian-style reality show, now available to stream, with older sister Dixie (54.5 million TikTok followers), father Marc (10.5 million) and mother Heidi (9.5 million). "Traditional media is salivating at the prospect" of D'Amelio having mainstream TV success, says Travis M. Andrews. "Social media’s young followers, who eschew traditional entertainment platforms, are still a largely untapped market." But so far, social media stars have struggled with the transition, most notably Lilly Singh, who -- despite having more than 14 million followers -- failed on NBC's late-night with her A Little Late talk show. "The path to traditional stardom for the creators who have made their names on the Internet is littered with failures," says Andrews. "After being named one of the most influential people on the Internet by Time magazine in 2015, Vine star Brittany Furlan embarked on an acting career that still hasn’t taken off. YouTuber Tyler Oakley has tried several different paths to the mainstream — including competing in The Amazing Race — but is still known mostly for his vlogging. Fellow YouTuber Jack Maynard broke free from the Internet by going on the U.K. reality show I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here! only to be removed after his past offensive tweets surfaced. AwesomenessTV’s Next Influencer, a reality show about a group of TikTokers trying to become famous on the app, has an astoundingly low 1.7/10 rating on IMDb. Their primary hurdle has been the cultural mismatch. Online media is 'such a unique environment. YouTube had a difficult time translating to traditional media spaces, and I think TikTok will even more so,' said Jamie Cohen, a digital media and media studies professor at Queens College. Online platforms have their own visual style — a filter that superimposes dog ears onto a person’s face wouldn’t be out of place — that doesn’t always translate to film to television. And they offer their popular personalities the kind of flexibility and freedom unheard of in traditional media, allowing creators to react quickly to the feedback of their viewers." In a video published shortly after Singh's debut titled "Leaving the YouTube Bubble," YouTuber Drew Gooden explained why her transition to TV didn't work, namely that NBC misunderstood her popularity that was mainly a hit with children. He also notes that online personalities like Singh can lose creative control when working with a large network, hampering the freedom that made them successful online. With a network, the creator is no longer in charge, no longer making niche content for its niche audience. Andrews adds: "Despite the perils, mainstream fame continues to be a draw for those that have made their names online. Networks and movie studios have access to greater resources to promote and share their content, not to mention that they can reach larger general audiences than social media." Gooden also points out that despite social media becoming mainstream, influencers are still viewed as inferior, even if they earn a lot of money. “You’ll be a successful YouTuber, and you’ll talk to someone, and they’ll ask, ‘What do you want to do next?’” he says. As Andrews points out, Bo Burnham, an early YouTube star, is the "gold standard" for achieving mainstream success. Yet with his acclaimed Netflix pandemic special Inside, "Burnham wrote, shot, directed and edited the series — the way a YouTuber or TikToker might. But instead of putting it all online, it was released on Netflix."
TOPICS: Charli D'Amelio, Hulu, YouTube, The D'Amelio Show, A Little Late with Lilly Singh, Dixie D'Amelio, Heidi D'Amelio, Lilly Singh, Marc D'Amelio, Instagram, Reality TV, Social Media, TikTok, Twitter