Master of Arts (MA)
Faculty of Arts
Greig de Peuter
YouTube presents itself as an egalitarian platform that promotes creativity and free expression among its creators, and that breaks with legacy media models. Among the mass of YouTube creators are top-earning “family influencers” who produce videos in which parents and their children are portrayed as leisurely playing and merely having fun. Behind the scenes, however, family influencer channels are capitalist, structured, and highly profitable. This thesis offers a case study of one family influencer channel, HobbyKidsTV. Exploring concepts of labour, leisure, agency, and consumer subjectivity, I de-naturalize HobbyKidsTV through a multimodal critical discourse analysis. Surfacing the power relations within HobbyKidsTV, my analysis reveals that the channel’s content is saturated by promotionalism. The activity of the children on camera is often contrived and restricted by the needs of advertisers and the channel’s brand. I conclude that HobbyKidsTV is an example of continuity through change: this new digital platform bears strong resemblances to traditional, commercial mass media. The family influencer relies on the choreographed immaterial labour of their children to maintain and grow their profits while embedding consumer subjectivities within their young audience. Not only are young viewers encouraged to continually watch the channel and consume products featured in HobbyKidsTV videos, they emulate the young actors and their families in the quest for fame and fortune, suggesting the individualistic capitalist and consumer ideologies are deeply entrenched in children’s culture. The findings suggest that while HobbyKidsTV’s motivations have much in common with corporately controlled mass media, it operates on a digital platform whose perceived novelty, openness, and neutrality ensures the labour of their children is not regulated, nor do advertising laws apply to their young audiences. In fact, the lack of employment and advertising regulation is beneficial for both family influencers and YouTube, whose claim of neutrality and egalitarianism is clearly called into question through the results of this research.
Morley, Sherry, "Advertainers and their Audience: Power Relations and Promotionalism in HobbyKidsTV" (2021). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 2368.