YouTube's algorithm recommended a video to me this morning---Safiya Nygaard just released a video entitled "Why I Left BuzzFeed." Well done, algorithm; I clicked. I've been spending way more time on YouTube lately since my current obsession is making videos for my own weekly series, How To Write A Song. Like most millennials, I'm super influenced by BuzzFeed and have watched countless videos of theirs. As I've taught myself to edit video, I've often thought about what makes BuzzFeed videos engaging in order to reverse engineer that for myself. A lot of BuzzFeed's massive library of videos are almost cringeworthy in how obviously click-baity they are, though, and I've tapered off watching them as I've heard more and more that their behind-the-scenes practices don't really jive with their overtly progressive content. The only BuzzFeed series that I've watched lately is Ladylike, which, Safiya explains in her "Why I Left" video, was created by her and other BuzzFeed favorite, Freddie Ransom.
I fell down the rabbit hole of What's Wrong With BuzzFeed articles/videos several months ago when I started listening to Bad With Money with Gaby Dunn (thanks be to Janet for every recommendation ever). Janet had been recommending the podcast a bunch, but I was very resistant to listening because I was familiar with Gaby's work with BuzzFeed, but more so her work speaking out about BuzzFeed's practices. I had a chip on my shoulder about that. I always get super jealous of anyone who gets this magical level of exposure that gives them the ability to reach a wide audience, thereby allowing them to live out their creative dreams. That's what I perceived of Gaby Dunn: Someone who had so much exposure for her creative work, and now was able to launch a successful podcast because of that exposure, but was biting the hand that gave her that boost, then getting boosted even more from speaking out about them! I wish I had that golden ticket, goddamn it! But then, of course, I started actually listening to the podcast. I fell in love with it, started watching Gaby's YouTube show with Allison Raskin, Just Between Us, and like all of Gaby's fans, developing a big bisexual crush on her as a person. And then I listened to the specific episode that explores why Gaby decided to leave BuzzFeed. I appreciate women telling the truth about their experiences in all aspects of life, and I realized that my jealousy was just my own stupid shit (like usual). I remembered that as Julia Cameron says in my (Janet-recommended) bible The Artist's Way, jealousy is a map, and that if I was jealous of these YouTube creators, I should just fucking become one. Duh.
Watching Safiya's video this morning, I started wondering why BuzzFeed hasn't changed their restrictive policies (although of course I have no clue what goes on behind the scenes at their offices around the globe). Are they concerned that so many of their amazingly talented creators have left? Yes, perhaps it's normal for media companies to own content that you make while you're on the clock making that content (although not as normal to fail to give first and last name credit to those creators), but isn't BuzzFeed's image that of a progressive island of liberal beauty + diversity on the internet? Couldn't they become an industry leader in treating creatives in a way that *isn't* the norm? It reminds me of jobs I've had and my friends have had at institutions that purport to be progressive, but behind the scenes there is the same blatant misogyny, elitism and unfairness as in any corporate environment. Corporate America isn't the only place where employees are treated poorly---nonprofits do the same shit and often pay less, too. It reminds me of those Uber horror stories, also---yeah, it's corporate, but if these tech businesses are the future, shouldn't their behind-the-scenes practices reflect that as well?
I am grateful for the women who tell the truth about these things, and I am grateful for the independent work they continue to create. Hell, I'm grateful to BuzzFeed for introducing me to these amazing women! I'm hopeful that these companies may become revolutionary in how they treat their employees, but I'm not holding my breath. Meanwhile, I'm still kinda jealous that several million people didn't enjoy watching me try the latest lip kit then follow me to my own YouTube channel. But! I'm still gonna make my own stuff, anyway. By the way...subscribe? ;-)