In Grace Helbig’s final video for her series on “My Damn Channel”, entitled “See You In 2014”, she talked about taking a break from the Internet for a week to think about things like “the system and the man”. That was one week ago. Now she’s back, but with an interesting twist. Her return to the Internet was marked by a simple tweet: a link to a new YouTube channel.
Helbig has been posting content to “DailyGrace” for three years. She has built an audience of 2.5 million subscribers through her videos. So why start fresh?
Well here’s the kick: she’s never owned any of the content she’s created. “DailyGrace” is a series run through “My Damn Channel” – a YouTube mega network (the first of its kind, really) that owns a vast enterprise of vlogs, original comedy series, and much more. Helbig has been with “My Damn Channel” for five years, three of which have been spent creating her “DailyGrace” vlogs. If anyone reading this has created something – even something small – you know how much work goes into one project. I can’t even fathom three years of creating content, editing the content, and then maintaining the standard that Helbig has.
So Helbig has (rightly so, in my opinion) decided to move on. She’s started her own YouTube channel, “It’s Grace”, to develop and upload her new content. Way to go, Grace Helbig.
But here’s the problem: since Helbig never actually owned the videos she created under “DailyGrace”/”My Damn Channel”, she cannot take those videos down or re-upload them to her new channel. “My Damn Channel”‘s response to Helbig’s split has now been to re-release “Vintage Grace” – essentially republishing old “DailyGrace” videos. You heard me right, “My Damn Channel” is going to be making money off of Helbig (as they’ve done all along) but this time, without her getting anything (be it subscribers or whatever) from it. Helbig’s brother summed it up pretty nicely in a tweet:
Thanks to the internet, I now have two sisters!! One is real and the other is a corporate entity.
— Tim Helbig (@RaginBotanist) January 2, 2014
“My Damn Channel” has done two things: first, invented the YouTube re-run (who liked re-runs in the first place? Why would someone do that?) and second, literally commodified a young woman. She cannot talk back to them because she is not an actual human in their employment – she is just a string of videos they own, with which they can do whatever they want.