There’s a reason why almost no one in the overall scope of possible viewers watches GMA anymore. The biggest reason is that when most of us wake up, we want our coffee, our shower, and our email, and not necessarily in that order. I’m forty years old and haven’t watched Good Morning America for at least twenty years. It should also be noted that I’m a modern American so I choose to get my news and feel-good stories from the internet instead of lame-ass mainstream network news/morning shows.
My news comes from aggregate lists at Google and SeattlePI.com where I can click on the interesting headlines and get multiple views of the same story. My feel-good stories tend to mostly come from places like Tumblr (go ahead, click the link and type in something relevant like ‘bullying’ or ‘LGBT’ or ‘suicide’ and tread through the vast amounts of heartfelt blogs, rants, and advice…I’ll wait).
But, you ask, who the hell is Jenna Marbles?
Well, let’s say if you aren’t a woman, you probably don’t have a clue who she is. If you happen to be married to or related to a woman, or there is a significant woman in your life, you probably have heard her name. Or if you’ve trolled through YouTube just randomly watching videos, it is inevitable that you will end up with a Jenna Marbles video link on your sidebar.
Jenna is an internet sensation, with eight million subscribers and a billion views. Yes. A BILLION. Now, let’s compare that to ABC News which carries Good Morning America. Four hundred thousand subscribers, and only half of Jenna’s views. So right off the bat, without even knowing who or what Jenna is, we can see that she’s wildly more popular than a barely-breathing dinosaur of a morning news show that has consistently turned viewers off and away for the last twenty or so years.
I would also say, let’s break it down a little more and click on GMA’s YouTube link and separate as best we can the actual number of GMA views…oh my, from my unscientific look at view counts on a long list of GMA videos, I’d say the average number would be around 50,000, depending on the popularity of the story. News stories average closer to 100,000 views, while the cutesy, transparently folksy fluff/trash that GMA promotes as their core product only seem to average about 10,000-20,000 views. Looks like it depends on whether the fluff pieces have cute animals or cute men or good recipes to jump into the 20,000+ range.
Jenna Marbles, by comparison, averages at least one million or more views per video she uploads. Most of the videos I’ve watched have around three million or more views.
But who is Jenna Marbles? And why is she infinitely more popular than crusty, lame old Good Morning America and even the behemoth of ABC News? I didn’t really know who she was until about two months ago when I happened to be passing by my wife’s computer while she was watching some crazy, attractive, funny-talking lady ramble on and on about…I honestly don’t even remember. I do remember my wife, who is thirty and has a Master’s degree (just to alert anyone that I’m not married to a tween/teen or even a twenty-something airhead) and is much more mature than me for sure, laughing until she had tears coming out of her eyes.
Since the wife and I have a good parallel of tastes when it comes to what is funny, I begrudgingly sat down and watched a Jenna Marbles video with her. I heard this funny-sounding accent and a swath of blonde hair bumbling about on the screen, mixed in with a fair amount of her two little ankle-biter dogs. I watched her babble on about how to put on makeup while drunk, how men and women pack suitcases, and even a rant about fighting the junk food urges. I guess this is where I admit she’s pretty fucking funny.
Of course not everyone thinks so. There are parents out there who rail against Ms. Marbles and her sometimes drunken, sometimes vulgar language and antics. No doubt there are religious nutters decrying her candid and hilarious talk about sex, dating, any everything else religious nutters rail against. And of course there are the men who only view her as a sexual object but can’t stand her or her humorous take on life. So it isn’t like she’s female-Jesus reborn with a video camera.
(to see more hate, just peruse the comments on her YouTube videos)
And today is how we arrive at the fact that Good Morning America has fallen into the same tar pit that the dinosaurs preceding them have. Good Morning America, like most mainstream television shows, the music industry, and now the book publishing industry, still hasn’t figured out what the internet truly is and how it can best be used. It seems GMA sent out their unknown, unpopular hitman (hitwoman I suppose) Cecilia Vega to do a fluff piece on Jenna and why she’s so popular:
Apparently I’m not the only one who watched this and thought, “Wow. Cecilia Vega is a complete and total bitch.” Followed immediately by, “Wow, Good Morning America is still on the air and people still watch it?” Followed by, “I know a lot of old people who haven’t done this new ‘internet thing’ that still watch this useless news & fluff religiously.”
A good journalist, a REAL journalist researches her interview subject. Since Jenna, her subject, is an internet sensation and a YouTube star, you’d think Cecilia Vega would have actually watched her videos or looked at her Facebook/Tumblr/Twitter pages. I would also like to at least think that a real journalist, one that went to school and got a degree that enabled her to have a job like the one she has at Good Morning America, would be able to do simple math and understand that one billion views does NOT, I repeat, does NOT equal one billion followers. Eight million is quite a long ways away from one billion.
More to the point, last time I checked, journalists are supposed to approach an interview or story with an objective mindset. I’ve watched the GMA interview a couple of times (that noise you hear in the background from my house is my wife being incensed about the tone of that interview), and the snark, the jealousy, the disbelief, and the utter bitchiness coming from Cecilia Vega is just…amazing.
I guess ol’ Cecilia had fooled herself that she was interviewing an Al-Qaeda leader or a deposed dictator accused of human rights violations. I’m not the only one. Of course you can expect that Jenna’s fans and followers would immediately jump to her defense (remember, she’s an internet star, and you know how the tsunami of comments and outrage can suddenly engulf them internet tubes when a particular group suddenly feels violated). Most of the comments on Jenna’s Facebook page about this TMZ-style reporting center around the fact that the droves of followers are definitely not teens and tweens. And what a bitch Cecilia Vega came off as.
One day the major networks and media conglomerates will understand the beast called the internet. They will one day figure out exactly what it is, how it works, and how to utilize it to shore up their sagging bottom lines and dwindling or stagnant viewers/listeners/readers. They’ll stop trying to lock down information with their DMCA take-down notices. They’ll stop trying to monetize every single aspect of their old-style business and learn to evolve and be a valid, maybe even respected part of the New World (the world that revolves around the internet).
Until then, GMA will continue to flounder and fight over the scraps of the ever-declining viewership that still clings to old media, old ways. This fluff piece, which could have been a heart-warming look at a woman who has somehow gained massive amounts of internet fame, to the point she’s making a pretty good living by going on and on in a Seinfeld-ish way about absolutely nothing (though, if you actually watch her videos, you’ll see a lot of hidden meaning and a good deal of emotions that ride along what I sense is a ‘feel good about yourself’ theme) instead takes on the tone of jealous high school assassination piece.
It feels like GMA’s hit squad got a jealous burr in their asses and decided to act like a bunch of obnoxious little asshats towards her. But that’s just me.
Stay ridiculous, Jenna Marbles. My wife loves you and I’m a pretty big fan myself.