BuzzFeed shouldn’t go Hollywood

September 4, 2015 — by Shreya Tumu

BuzzFeed has been my pre-bedtime entertainment for the past two years, and I don’t know what I would do with all my free time without its endless random videos and posts. But what I most respect about BuzzFeed is its boldness in creating inspirational, light-hearted videos often promoting gender and racial equality. 

BuzzFeed has been my pre-bedtime entertainment for the past two years, and I don’t know what I would do with all my free time without its endless random videos and posts. But what I most respect about BuzzFeed is its boldness in creating inspirational, light-hearted videos often promoting gender and racial equality.

So when BuzzFeed announced that it was going to launch their own Hollywood studio, I had mixed feelings. What if going mainstream would force BuzzFeed to alter its content to cater to Hollywood audiences and abandon making the inspirational videos, promoting gender and racial equality, I admire?

BuzzFeed is expanding across multiple directions — including renaming its digital-video division BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, produced by Hollywood. In launching its own Hollywood studio, BuzzFeed enlisted the help of producer Michael Shamberg from “Django Unchained” and “Contagion” and actor-comedian Jordan Peele of Comedy Central’s “Key & Peele.”

The problem is that these advisers may be persuaded to do things only their fan base likes, because that’s what they have been conditioned to do in the Hollywood bubble.

For example, two of BuzzFeed’s recent videos, “Women Transform Into Drag Kings” and “The Try Guys Try Drag For The First Time” have mixed reviews in the YouTube comment section. The new advisers might be influenced by the negative comments into limiting the number of videos that may be deemed controversial.

Another issue is that Ze Frank, who now leads the Hollywood division, also plans on hiring Hollywood actors, who might appear in more of BuzzFeed’s videos than BuzzFeed’s already solid video team.  

I enjoy watching the ethnically diverse and genuine actors who appear on BuzzFeed, such as Michelle Karre, Eugene Lee Yang, Ashly Perez and Daysha Edewi; I don’t see the need for generic Hollywood actors to replace them.

While there are benefits in BuzzFeed going to Hollywood, such as larger revenue and wider audiences, BuzzFeed lovers like me still worry about it. I don’t want videos about my favorite topics, such as female empowerment and young adult controversies, to vanish, nor do I want to see my favorite actors disappear from YouTube.

I just hope that BuzzFeed’s Hollywood launch does not diminish the very qualities that made the site so popular in the first place: humor, diversity and authenticity. 

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