The ten year old strutted across the stage wearing her sparkly blue dress and kitten heels. She went directly into the spotlight. The emcee at the Little Miss Independence Pageant politely asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up, and why?” The dolled up adolescent leaned in towards the microphone with a smile and proudly stated, “A YouTuber because I want to teach people how to use makeup and be famous.” She took home the crown that night.
As a judge in the crowd, I was a little shocked at that answer at first. If this pageant was held 10 years prior we could probably expect most answers to be a veterinarian, a basketball player, a teacher, a cop, or some other heroic career often celebrated in children’s books, television, or in their extra curricular activities. Not to say that today’s kids don’t still see those as options - they are just their secondary options. Reflecting back on the time I spent watching Disney Channel and Nickelodeon at the turn of the millennium, I remember I idolized the sitcom stars. However, the first thing in my mind wasn’t “I definitely want to be an actress like Hilary Duff when I grow up." I believe a big reason behind the difference in the way children experience filmed entertainment today vs the generations prior has a lot to do with the way the adults in the room discuss the celebrities or today’s “YouTube Stars." I never once heard my parents talk about how much money the Disney channel stars were potentially making. Maybe that’s because that lifestyle was so unattainable to us and far away in Hollywood. It was a lifestyle where you had to either know someone who was already in it or risk everything you know to get there. Today, my sisters, parents and I openly discuss how these average people are becoming millionaires for playing video games or with sponsored toys on YouTube after simply making a decision to create a YouTube channel that my nephews and millions of other kids enjoy watching. Fame has become more attainable than ever, and the younger generations have taken notice.