15 Minutes of YouTube

Justin Juul February 2, 2007

YouTube — be it a landfill of desperation and lousy editing or goldmine of hidden talent — has undoubtedly produced stars. What follows is a by-no-means exhaustive or definitive list of the individuals who’ve enjoyed more than their 15 minutes on the site, but a collection of individuals who caught my eye in an intense week of YouTube scouring. Most have gotten upwards of 1,000,000 views and have tens of thousands of subscribers.

1. Geriatric 1927
Peter (last name withheld), a 79 year-old WWII vet from England, produces a video-blog series titled “Telling it All,” which chronicles his wartime experiences, philosophies on life, and random thoughts about cigarettes, aging, and liquid stockings. At the time I wrote this, he had more subscribers than anyone else on the site — a feat that took him only a week to perform. Like other famous YouTubers, his videos have spawned countless imitations, homages, and responses. This is known as a meme in internet-nerd language. The style of a popular video clip is immediately seized by fans who then post their own videos as a parody or tribute, causing the idea to spread through the site like a disease. The bigger the disease, the bigger the star.

2. Brookers
She cries, she dances, she lip-synchs to formulaic top-40 songs, and she bares her soul for all to judge. She is “Brookers,” a former secretary from Massachusetts who has become one of the most famous YouTube personalities yet. Her videos are no-budget, amateurish, and arguably annoying. They consist of her making faces, talking to the YouTube community at large, and singing… songs. For some reason “Brookers” has attracted the attention of almost every person with a YouTube account — and that’s not all. Forbes reported last June that she was commissioned as a creative consultant for NBC’s Carson Daly show.

3. Lonelygirl15
So what if she’s a hoax? YouTubers still love to hear her talk about her boyfriend, parents, and blossoming infatuation with Aleister Crowley. The actress who plays “LonelyGirl15,” Jessica Rose, is now an international celebrity who makes appearances on talk shows and does commercial spots for Amnesty International. Although user reactions to the continued popularity of her postings range from rage to betrayal to absolute acceptance, one thing is for sure — “LonelyGirl15” is a YouTube star.

4. FilthyWhore
“FilthyWhore” is a 21-year old from Pittsburgh who looks exactly like my sister. Ashley, is that you? Although her name suggests a pornographic motif, there is nothing X-rated about “FilthyWhore.” She’s just a young girl who talks about her pet peeves, her relationships, her interest in skinheads and Nazis, and of course other YouTube personalities like “Renetto.” Who is “Renetto?” you ask.

5. Renetto
Paul Robinett, A 39 year old artist from Ohio, launched his YouTube career on a whim, using an alter-ego he called “Renetto.” A bald man with glasses and jagged teeth, “Renetto,” talked in a high-pitched voice about whatever popped into his head. The clip was short, nonsensical, and more than a little irritating, but to Robinett’s surprise it garnered an impressive amount of attention and speculation from the YouTube community. After a few more in-character postings, Robinett outed himself, explaining in his real voice who he really was, why he was interested in YouTube, and what his tentative plans for the future included. He continues to post clips under his original code name, “Renetto,” and has managed to build a huge base of dedicated fans who respond to his videos daily. Robinett is the emerging Godfather of the YouTube community, using the site not only as a platform to pursue fame, but also as a sociological experiment. He hosts video contests, solicits responses from viewers, forms allies and enemies, and encourages others to help Youtube evolve into the revolutionary social phenomenon he knows it can be. In his boldest move to date, Robinett drove to Pittsburgh, PA to track down “FilthyWhore” for an interview. Although this might have seemed a dangerous move, the release of the footage to the YouTube community cleared Robinett of suspicion and opened the site up to new possibilities.

And more:
6. Mr. Pregnant
What the hell is wrong with this guy?

7. Cartiledge
AKA “Your Best Chum, Your Old Man.” Like “Geriatric27,” but a little goofier.

8. Greg Solomon
Renetto’s nemesis.

9. boh3m3
Another important character in As the YouTube Turns.

10. Tasha
Tasha’s lip-synch videos are the best of the worst.