I don’t know if you’ve noticed but there is this genre called ‘Family Vlogs’ on YouTube. These channels publish videos of the channel creators’ daily lives and events. Such channels have been in the limelight in the West for more than a decade now. And families in Kerala have started taking up this model by doing Malayalam family vlogs.
Malayali presence on the internet is at an all-time high, thanks to high internet penetration, more accessible data packs and high digital literacy. Till a few years ago, there was hardly any online content that catered only to the Malayali audience. But now, content by Malayalam YouTube channels is gaining popularity even outside the core Malayali audience. Check out Malayalam content creator Karikku’s debut sketch video on Netflix for example.
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What made content on the internet different from conventional media? The ease with which people could create content without huge budgets or costly equipment. Thus, many channels on YouTube came out with unconventional content. At the time, they did not appeal to a majority of the Malayali audience. Most of these started to put forth progressive and liberal ideas. Soon they started receiving acceptance and appreciation from the younger generation of Malayalis. This new generation wanted to break free from regressive ideas in their society. Content creators like The Mallu Analyst and Gaya3 speak about this too.
Malayalis have always been curious and captivated by the drama that happens in the house. The themes and plots of all major Malayalam serials are a testimony to this fact. This is also what makes family vlogs particularly appealing to a large audience. This is the era of celebrities and influencers who are more or less living a perfect life on screen. But family vlogs present a more realistic picture and remain relatable to the public.
Malayalam Family Vlogs
The keywords ‘Malayalam Family Vlogs’ yield thousands of results on YouTube. Most of these have clickbait thumbnails and dramatic misleading captions. Most often, phone cameras with poor quality videos are used. The parents usually run these channels for fame or as an extra source of revenue. The kids or younger members of the family work on editing these videos and post them on social media. Most of these channels start small. Over time, they gain a huge subscriber base when one of their videos go viral, often for the wrong reasons.
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Some Disturbing Trends
One look at the trending videos from these channels, and we will know the taste of the Malayali audience. It is an assortment of archaic thoughts and gender stereotypes. Not to mention insensitive content.
Let us look at the channel ‘PALAKKADAN FAMILY’ which currently has 170K subscribers. If we look at the title of some of the most-watched videos on their channel:
നാത്തൂൻ പോര് തുടങ്ങി 😐 രണ്ടാളുടെയും തല്ല് എന്റെ അമ്മോ 🤣:
ഏട്ടന് കൊടുത്തു ഒരു PRANK അവസാനം തല്ലാത്തത് ഭാഗ്യം Prank🤣😐😐:
These are clickbait titles and have accompanying clickbait video thumbnails as well. They sensationalise their lives and life events and give tough competition to news channels and reality shows in dramatisation. The actual content of most of these videos would disappoint viewers who are drawn in by clickbait. They do not contain any explosive content and many of them are scripted. It is a shame to see that there are still takers for such content. These channels get undue attention and some of these videos even become trending.
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Another one of these channels is ‘UPPUM MULAKUM LITE’ with 73.2K subscribers. The channel name is inspired by a popular Malayalam serial. Once again, we can see almost the unfiltered lives of all the family members.
This channel had received a lot of criticism recently. They released a video announcing the marriage of one of their daughters. She is nineteen years old and is yet to complete her education. This is also one of their most-watched videos – ‘അങ്ങനെ ശരിക്കും പൊന്നൂന്റെ കല്യാണം തീരുമാനിച്ചു‘. Viewers took to the comments to criticise the family for promoting early marriage, saying that their daughter is getting married off before attaining financial independence.
Later videos also show how the mother is training her daughter in kitchen chores. She claims that it is to prepare her for her upcoming married life.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a whole sea of toxic and regressive content under the category of Malayalam family vlogs.
The Dark Side of Malayalam Family Vlogs
On the surface, it may look like roses and rainbows (harmless content). But if we dig deeper, we can see that their actions can have unintended consequences. Privacy has never been a priority for Indians. Internet privacy, even lesser. Children in these families are often exposed to the world at a very young age. They don’t consider the consent of their children as they are quite young. These children often face harassment and bullying online and offline. They become vulnerable due to actions that are not their own. Such children face mental stress which can affect their development and personality growth. Parents also often ask them to perform/behave a certain way to appease the public.
Children can be negatively affected by criticism. They are not equipped to handle hatred or negativity on the internet. This will cause severe physical and mental health problems. Some children may later wish to lead a private life. But, a large part of their lives will always be available unchecked on the internet.
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Parents in these vlogs have a huge influence on other parents who watch their videos. They pass on their biases and unscientific knowledge to the viewers. These mislead the unsuspecting audience.
Message to Young Audience
Family vlogs have a wide range of audiences. These include young school students to parents and even older people. These videos hold back the society that is trying to get out of patriarchal and outdated ideas. It promotes racial discrimination, body shaming, patriarchal values, gender stereotypes and similar ideas. At this rate, YouTube and other social media will keep churning out content very similar to conventional media. Thus, we will lose any chance of attaining the change that we could bring through the internet.
It is important to be aware of what we consume and promote on the internet. It has a wide reach and deep impact on young impressionable minds. The democratisation of content creation is a double-edged sword. If it is not used prudently, it can do more harm than good.
Finally someone said it.