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Youtube vs Bloodchild-paper 2 revised

rokojo's picture

Youtube is a unique form of media that allows video creators to get closer than ever to their fanbase. It has facilitated collaboration and interaction and has brought people together to form tight communities. In recent years youtube video makers have risen to a level of celebrity with millions of fans all over the world. Through their videos, they have the power to carefully construct their image. They can edit their videos and perform a persona that may be different than their real life personality. Viewers like myself feel we know the people whose videos we watch although for the most part we only know about the parts of them they want us to see. They also have the power of having a platform on which to spread their ideas, thoughts, and goals to a wide variety of people. Many Youtube “stars” tend to use this power for good. They hold charity events, performs in concerts, create educational content, and art. However, there are people within the “youtube community” who have in the past used their power in a negative way. Recently, there were several scandals that came to light. These were men on youtube, singers and bloggers and entertainers, who entered into relationships with girls much younger than themselves. Their power as performers and as celebrities, combined with the power their older age brought was used to put these young girls in abusive situations. The girls also felt they could trust them since in a way, they already knew them. The most damaging part of these stories was not just how many of these cases came out, but rather how many victims were scared to speak out because of the number of supporters these celebrities had. They feared their story wouldn’t be believed, that they would be blamed for their abuse. After all, the personas these men put forth in their videos were quirky, nerdy, sweet guys. There are millions of people who view this persona and feel that they know these men. Their victims are at a disadvantage in this relationship, their word going against what millions of fans believe about an individual. The power differential present in this community allowed them to take advantage of their young fans, and the persona they constructed helped to protect them.


The world of Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild” is one with a clear cut power differential between the Tlic and the Terrans. The focus of the story is on Gan’s relationship with T’Gatoi, and the way in which they have a relationship within the power differential.  Similar to the way people on youtube curate a persona, the Tlic in charge of this world don’t let on to some of the more unsavory aspects of the relationship between their species and the Terrans. The Terrans are told about how the Tlic life cycle works and why Terrans are necessary. They are told about what life is like outside their world where Tlic aren’t integrated into families. However, no one is shown a physical birth. This lack of transparency within the power differential allows for Terran bodies to be exploited and abused. Gan’s brother Qui witnesses this. “"I saw them eat a man...I saw a man and a Tlic and the man was N'Tlic...The Tlic wouldn't open the man because she had nothing to feed the grubs. The man couldn't go any further and there were no houses around. He was in so much pain, he told her to kill him. He begged her to kill him. Finally, she did. She cut his throat. One swipe of one claw. I saw the grubs eat their way out, then burrow in again, still eating."” (Butler). This horrific encounter is an example of one of the ways in which the power of the Tlic can be abused. Gan witnesses a birth that goes relatively smoothly and is horrified at its reality. Bram Lomas was abandoned by the person who put her parasitic eggs inside him. Even though they were extracted without incident, the process was nonetheless bloody and unsettling. The relationship between Gan and T’Gatoi is, despite the power differential, relatively loving-almost healthy. However, the system as a whole allows for many relationships that aren’t. Gan proposes a solution to this when T’Gatoi suggests that Terrans should be further hidden from the truth, “I didn't like the sound of that - and I doubted that it was possible."Not protected,"I said."Shown. Shown when we're young kids, and shown more than once. Gatoi, no Terran ever sees a birth that goes right. All we see is N'Tlic - pain and terror and maybe death."” (Butler). Gan is arguing here that an increase in transparency would allow people would know how the relationship is meant to be so they would know what isn’t normal and have the agency to speak up if something isn’t right. It would increase accountability for the Tlic to take care of the Terran they implant. In a similar way, increased transparency would help to dismantle the community that allows online video creators to get away with taking advantage of young fans.

Bloodchild and Youtube abuse cases are both proof that societal power differentials create environments where abusive relationships occur. This is perpetuated by a lack of transparency and an established public image. If the viewers of youtube videos had more visibility into the lives of the people whose videos they watch, these creators would have more accountability for their actions. They would lose some of the power they hold over their audience. Of course, the solution isn’t to put these celebrities under 24/7 surveillance, but a realization that these creators are people beyond their persona would make it easier for victims to feel comfortable speaking out. It would also prevent some of these abuses from happening in the first place. In the world of “Bloodchild”, Gan argues that increased transparency of the relationship between Tlics and Terrans would serve a similar purpose of taking some the power from the party in charge. It would increase the amount of agency the Terrans have. In communities like these two, where one party holds a much larger amount of power than the other, there needs to be a certain amount of visibility in order for relationships between the two parties to not be abusive.


Works Cited

Butler, Octavia E. "Bloodchild and Other Stories." Washington Post 1995: n. pag.

    Washington Post. Web. 12 Sept. 2014. <