I’ve spent a lot of time on YouTube. I’m a part of a group of British girls who were raised on “what’s in my bag” videos and owned an embarrassingly high number of Zoella products—a number that’s actually so high I’m not willing to reveal the specific details at this time. It’s beyond common for YouTubers to take advantage of mainstream media opportunities and diversify their brand. What’s less common though, is doing it successfully.
Chamberlain has found herself, some would say for the very first time, facing backlash for the ways in which she talks about particular topics online and, indeed, her overall online presence. My TikTok FYP has been absolutely flooded with netizens sharing their thoughts on this conversation, so let’s also get involved—I have some things to say.
Emma Chamberlain, despite still being a foetus now, has actually been around on the platform for a very long time. Kicking off her online career in 2016 when she was only 15, Chamberlain quickly became someone who I’d always find myself going back to. The YouTuber’s videos were highly personable from the get-go, so no matter what she was doing or what the topic of a particular video happened to be, viewers always felt intrinsically connected to her content.
I don’t have the skills nor the energy to try and pinpoint what exactly it was about Emma that meant she was always going to kill it. That being said, I think that I’ve consumed enough content online to take an educated guess. Chamberlain was one of the first people to truly deromanticise mental health issues online. Her anxiety was messy and unstructured and manifested itself on camera during long car rides as opposed to during long-winded speeches sat down in front of a staged candle-lit background.
Chamberlain also had the influencer pièce de résistance: the perfect blend of self-deprecating humour and insane natural beauty. The internet loves a girl who has no idea how stunning she is. Put that together with a casual vlogging style and genuine ability to create engaging, funny content, and it’s no real surprise that she’s managed to stack up millions of followers over the years.
Fast forward to today, and Chamberlain has a mega-successful coffee company, has become a staple during Paris Fashion Week, has hosted interviews at the Met Gala two years in a row now, and has a podcast that has gained over 1.1 million listeners since it launched in February 2020.
In fact, it’s the YouTuber’s podcast, anything goes with emma chamberlain, that I wanted to speak about in particular today. Over the past few weeks, Chamberlain has been at the receiving end of quite a lot of online criticism regarding the ways in which she approaches certain topics on her podcast, as well as the overall vibe of the episodes in general.
From what I can find online, the main beef people have with Chamberlain at the moment is twofold: firstly, that she shouldn’t be pondering philosophical or psychological social queries on her own and without the aid of an expert, and secondly, that her decision to omit so much of her personal life from the podcast has ultimately taken a huge amount of enjoyment away from audiences.
One particular recent girlie mess that’s been trending surrounding the podcast is the fact that a lot of netizens think that the anything goes podcast host could benefit from going to college. A big argument seems to be that Chamberlain, having not received any higher education, has ended up with a show that’s not only highly unstructured but also serves certain takes that are particularly skewed and very reflective of the ‘bubble’ influencers find themselves in.
This hot take even has a cute little tag attached to it: “The echo Chamberlain.”
I think the argument needs to be prefaced with the fact that higher education and college do not automatically equate to intelligence and greater insight. And to say that going to college is necessary in order to understand the world and provide perspectives on it is just straight-up dumb. Nevertheless, I think it’s completely understandable that people are feeling super disconnected from Chamberlain at the moment. Especially considering the fact that she’s made the decision to omit practically her entire personal life from the internet.
As soon as a creator passes a certain threshold of fame, they lose a big percentage of the thing that attracted people to them in the first place. However, for a long time, Chamberlain was able to hold onto that special power. Her strength was her ability to mitigate the viewer’s sense of longing for her lifestyle by placing her difficulties and anxieties at the forefront of all of her content. We didn’t feel as though her rubbing shoulders with Hailey Bieber made her less relatable because she was the same Emma we watched cry in her car and the same Emma who became emotionally attached to her drum kit.
However, the less we know about her life, the bigger the void gets, and the harder it is to love her in the same way we once did. I know it’s not really that deep, but with the magic of YouTube already fading, it’s definitely sad to see one of my favourites fade alongside it.