Magazine review: Oh My Vlog! (or Old People Are Scared of Things for Young People)
Ivan Radford | On 22, Jul 2015Reading time: 6 mins
Marcus Butler is afraid of bees. Alfie Deyes’ first CD was a Busted Album. These are the kind of things you can learn in Oh My Vlog!, a new vlogger magazine that was released today in newsagents and select branches of WHSmith. Yes, you read that correctly. A magazine about vloggers.
The Internet imploded when Art Editor Paul Lang unveiled the front cover on Twitter, prompting a wave of articles (written by people twice as old as the teenagers the publication is aimed at) deriding the magazine for daring to be something they didn’t know anything about. (Presumably, these people have also written similarly outraged pieces about Moshi Monsters Magazine or All About… Numberjacks.)
We have made a NEW MAGAZINE. It's called Oh My Vlog! and it's out today. pic.twitter.com/HleahxPeYy
— Paul Lang (@rudemrlang) July 22, 2015
Oh My Vlog! is the latest in childrens’ publisher Egmont’s “All About…” series. It focuses on a different (trending) topic in each issue, with an eye to commissioning a regular magazine run should it prove popular. A bit like a TV pilot. But on paper.
When you put it like that, it might sound a bit weird. Print and video, after all, are very different. So why on earth, in an age where print magazines are laying off stuff and consolidating titles into all-in-one websites to save money, would someone launch a print magazine about YouTube videos? Haven’t vloggers replaced magazines anyway? And surely a digital magazine would make more sense?
That’s the route that we took when we launched VODzilla.co. While our online publication focuses on listings, reviews and news, we don’t do much in the way of YouTuber gossip. But that doesn’t mean someone else shouldn’t. Celebrity magazines, after all, still exist for grown-ups. And those feature celebrities who exist in films and TV shows – also visual media. For younger audiences, YouTube and its ever-expanding array of vloggers are stars in their own right. Zoella has been on The Great British Bake Off. Marcus Butler – of bee phobia fame – has a book out on 28th July. And in 2013, this happened:
— Flooper (@CooperGilkey) July 25, 2013
Haters are gonna hate, but just like Twilight bashing, Belieber bullying and Directioner deriding, why are older people so keen to laugh at something that doesn’t cater to their interests? “THIS MEgAZiN iS My BAE,” declares Miranda Sings on the front cover of Oh My Vlog!. You can already hear the twenty- and thirty-somethings building bunkers to ward off the apocalypse.
But enough about all that, what’s the actual magazine like? We coughed up the £3.99 at our local WHSmith to take a peek.
What’s on offer is your standard celeb goss (“over 300 facts and secrets!”), from Marcus’ apian affliction to “every single tiny thing” about Alfie Deyes, “the cutest boy on YouTube”. There’s even a height chart for some well-known vloggers, which Irish singer Bry – find him at LifeofBriBry – jokingly took issue with. He is, he pointed out on Twitter, 1.98 metres. Although Dan and Phil (because they have a joint channel) have a combined height of 3.78 metres anyway, so whatevs, Bry.
'Oh My Vlog' magazine has a section about the tallest Youtubers with Jim Chapman + Dan & Phil at the top IM TALLER THATS MY THING MY 1 THING
— Bry (@BryOnTour) July 22, 2015
There’s a problem with the mag’s profile-based approach, though, which is that most YouTube fans will know these things about their YouTube baes anyway; because vlogs, unlike traditional celebrity movies or TV shows, are usually about the creators themselves, any subscriber will have picked up more than 300 facts and figures already.
Still, the page layout is colourful enough, with flowcharts, style tips and DIY YouTubing advice – and, impressively, a round-up of Europe’s best web celebs, just to keep things not entirely US or UK-based. (There is, though, a lack of ethnic diversity in the people featured: how true a reflection of the vlogosphere is that?)
If a vox pop with Zoella’s guinea pigs doesn’t do it for you, there’s even a Top Trumps-style game (not called Top Trumps for legal reasons), which confirms any suspicions you might have that everyone in YouTube is good looking.
Compared to other celebrity magazines, such as Star, there’s (obviously) a stronger focus on vloggers and (importantly) a relative lack of adverts suggesting how readers should look and what beauty products they should buy to make themselves better. (That said, there is also a clear female skew, with little male-targeted content, such as articles about Minecraft or other games that are popular with streamers.)
A quick comparison to Shout (a teen girl magazine, which offers free sweets and sunglasses, but is full of adverts) highlights the shortcomings of the print format, though: Shout lists tours and events for vlogger fans to attend in real life, the kind of handy information you might need to access offline. Oh My Vlog!’s problem is trying to come up with something similar.
The competition to “win a Skype call with Tyler Oakley” (whose five different hair colours are also itemised in detail) is a neat prize for a digital age, but the real strength is its posters and stickers. Because let’s face it, you can’t put a sticker on your computer. And you can’t stick a YouTube video on your wall. (Yet.)
That simple fact almost justifies the backwards vibe of Oh My Vlog!, a magazine that is oddly (and yet endearingly) happy to sit in the slot vacated by Smash Hits back in the 1980s and 1990s. Does the world still have a place for such simple, papery pleasures?
For those who did grow up with Smash Hits, the answer is no. For teens who still have bedrooms to decorate, though, why not? Some things change. Some things stay the same.
Case in point: Staples and posters are hardly a pairing to rival Zoe and Alfie. (Tears suck. Seriously, guys. We can photograph Pluto in up-close detail, but we can’t come up with a better system for posters in magazines?)
The Bottom Line
If none of these words have made any sense whatsoever and you’re now cowering under your duvet in fear of your mortality, keep on moving. There’s nothing for you here.
If Oh My Vlog! is going to become an actual thing, though, it needs to up its game a little – facts and secrets are great for a one-off, but every month? Marcus can’t be afraid of that many things. (You suspect that Egmont has a set of non-topical trial magazines ready to deployed in any given month, which would explain the feature/profile-driven content.)
But as a reminder of the rites of passage that are celebrity stickers and posters, there are worse things in the world for older people to get worked up about than Oh My Vlog!. Goodness knows what their first CD was.
Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’re off to play with our stickers.