“iTube,” Rutube

This review I wrote about former ‘lifecaster’ and current videoblogging persona Justine “iJustine” Ezarik is not my favorite thing I’ve ever written, in part I think because I was trying so hard to be fair that I ended up being wishy-washy. Justine is interesting, though — it’s always interesting to talk to someone who has a career staked on having an online persona.

In other Tube news, this video is I guess patently offensive and funny if you know Russian. If you don’t, it’s just funny.

11 comments to “iTube,” Rutube

  • surlybastard

    You’re right, it was wishy washy. Your subject casts herself as standing up for women who work in technology, but I wasn’t aware that professional oversharer was considered a tech sector job.

    Lifecasting is nothing more than self-indulgent, technologically enabled, cultural decadence.

  • TC

    That girl’s fame says a lot about people’s aspirations. Fandom has always been about aspirations — at least in part. You love this person because you want to be like them…but from what I can gather she seems to just be famous for, well, nothing much in particular. For just being herself — so is that what people want to be? Not to be recognized for talents beyond self-marketing? Am I wrong? This girl doesn’t seem to “do” anything other than flip through mail and publicize mundane events. So if you’re 16, do you aspire to just be heard/noticed? The model for online personas seems to be: Okay, I’m famous…now what?

  • skate

    That article was pathetic. Emily, you took that girl on for (more or less) not being well-versed in, say, third-wave feminism. Are you fucking kidding? The only reason you have a modicum of intelligence is because you’re Jewish girl who grew up in the Northeast and franky, you’re not particularly attractive. That girl grew up in Pittsburgh or whatever, and when you grow up with a face like that (overrated as her face may be), there’s no impetus to focus on, well, higher intellectual pursuits. I’m actually surprised that she’s as bright as she is. Her comments on that page were silly, juvenile, and don’t provide any evidence *of* that intelligence, sadly enough. but judging by her diction, etc., she does seem relatively bright. Meanwhile, I think your friend Julia is a disgusting, digusting human being, but she is *clearly* intelligent. People turn out the way they do for a reason. Julia’s life story clearly caused her personality to warp a certain way, just as Justine’s did, yours did, and mine did.

    But honestly, look what you do for a living. You write articles on people like her? Kill yourself.

  • Gay Blade

    Entertainment = escapism

    Reality is NOT entertainment.

  • Jessica

    Hi Emily. Just discovered you tonight and, as you can imagine, have been provided with hours of entertainment, so, thank you. I fall into the fan category by the way. For your listening pleasure in Russia, I’d like to recommend the song “St. Petersburg” by the Brazilian Girls. It thrills me to know you’ll probably read this, as I’m pretty much in love with you already. xoxo, Jessica

  • August

    @ Gay Blade
    Life = all of the above
    (hopefully in equal, balancing, healthy doses)

  • heather-m

    “The only reason you have a modicum of intelligence is because you’re Jewish”

    oh my.

  • heather-m

    Er, skate:

    “The only reason you have a modicum of intelligence is because you’re Jewish”

    oh my. i kind of want to hear the explanation, kind of want to run away.

    Emily, I liked what you were doing with the article, but just couldn’t find it as compelling as a lot of your stuff, because Justine’s just not that interesting.

  • bess

    amazing that your readers eagerly read you and yet critique the whole enterprise of oversharing or life-blogging or whatever. If you get beyond the moralistic stance that somehow online fame/community (very close things) are “wrong” there are actually some interesting things to talk about. I mean, ultimately this is really a story about a woman who is participating in producing her own image as a hot girl– that is hardly a new thing in celeb-media. Have you read Terri Senft’s book Camgirls? I feel like she does a good job talking to women who put their lives online without condescending to them just b/c they don’t know Judith Butler.

  • emily

    bess, I agree — that line comes off as incredibly condescending. I think maybe in some draft or other I’d attempted some longer way of trying to explain that what I thought Justine was trying to pull off re: ‘empowering’ women via cute-yet-technavviness was essentially disingenuous — but I had failed. Now it’s just a cringe-inducing line. That book sounds good.

    To be fair also to me/my readers, I’d like to posit — and maybe this is a little revisionist! — that what I’m doing here, most of the time, is just ’sharing.’ Not over-. And it certainly has nothing to do with lifecasting.

  • Some people like to draw a line in the sand and say, “on this side you are ’selling,’” but cross over and you are “selling out.” Maybe it helps them feel better about themselves to be able to claim that they stand on the side they deem more virtuous.

    It’s nonsense.

    You might as well recite that old chestnut: “I can’t define pornography, but I know it when I see it.” Funny how the exact same line can apply to “art,” isn’t it?

    Here is an explanation for the confused:

    Yes, we are complete human beings. Silly, vain, vainglorious, frightened, perplexed, noble, base, cowardly, brave; La condition humaine, n’est-ce pas?

    But to the extent that someone will give us something valuable–love, companionship, money, pretty shells–for whatever it is we have to offer, we are also a product. Capitalism is in the genes (and for some, in the jeans). Ouch!

    And since we are a product, our value equals the sum total of everything we possess: beauty, intelligence, athletic or artistic ability; whatever we can sell.

    No, it’s not all selling. We don’t walk around 24/7 marketing our wares to every passerby, and we (hopefully) do not think of our loved ones as debtors and creditors. Nor do we tote up every transaction on some internal P&L statement. There’s plenty of room for faith, hope, and charity.

    But ya gotta pay the rent, somehow.

    The debate over whether or not Justine (or Emily or you or me or Julia or Paris or Beethoven) offers something of value is made moot by a single yardstick: is someone paying her for it?

    Yes, they are? Then she must be offering something of value, okay? If you don’t care for her product, then don’t consume it! Yes, Virginia, you can safely ignore Perez, you’ll be just fine.

    Maybe Justine is another Mozart writing “The Magic Flute” to pay the bills while she composes her “Don Giovanni.” Now that guy sold out!

    If you despair that she is only making money because she is “pretty,” well, there’s a billion-dollar modeling industry that wants to talk to you.

    I’m not suggesting there aren’t any wrong ways to sell your stuff; I can think of plenty. But Justine hurts no one, and she’s cute and funny. Emily is cute and profound (and she can cook!) I am cute and…okay, I’m not that cute. And I’m not sure I have anything else someone will pay me for, either (the marketplace will judge!)

    The role of the critic is not to gauge the absolute value of the product, but its relative value to the culture at large. They play a vital role in helping the lumpen proletariat (you ‘n me, babe) decide whether or not to consume it (who hasn’t bought or passed on a book or CD or movie based upon a well-written review?)

    As to its absolute value: whether or not a product will stand for the ages, well, critics can make an educated guess if they like.

    History will judge. Viva Justine!

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