Watched a recent video of hers and thought it’s easier to type a response here. I don’t know if she’ll actually see this, but maybe pingback will work its wonders haha.
So a brief introduction of her for those that don’t know: My friend intro’d me to this YTber that he thought was interesting. Like, not the cloying cute/suffocatingly sweet kind like a few (*cough* xiao *cough*) others, but this pretty/attractive blond (although bright yellow/brown? would be more accurate) Western girl that vlogged about her life in Japan. Back then I was still pretty interested in J-culture and how Japanese people lived their lives (it turns out to be quite normal – same as everyone else), so it seemed interesting to see how a foreigner that’s not socially accepted would share their experience in that society.
And that girl’s Ciaela, or Micaela as she’s more popularly known. I’m linking her wordpress here for those that are interested to learn more about her (and also for the WordPress pingbacks –
notice me senpai!) and her life in Japan.
So anyway, I don’t remember what the video that I first saw her in was, but it was pretty good. I liked the content she produced, and subbed to her, found that she did Japanese duets of English pop songs and was like ‘holy shit, this is good.’ Like, she did do pretty nice covers of English pop songs in English, but it’s really something else to hear a song translated and timed to the same tune in a different language. And she harmonizes well with her duet partner Kirby as well, so while she may not be releasing albums soon, it is actually pretty pleasant to listen to even on playbacks.
Still, over time I stopped watching much of her videos since a few of them ventured into advertising for Nestle or something like that, and it just felt so weird. She talked about it herself in her video, and basically it boils down to how hard it is to be passionate about something that you’re just not passionate about and trying to convince others of this.
One could be harsh and call it what they believe it to be: Lying. Intentionally misleading others and oneself to something which is not the truth. Of course, the consequences aren’t bad – you do earn money (at least, I hope you do) promoting something, and maybe people out there that are looking for something will see what you’re advertising and go ‘hey, I didn’t know I needed that!’.
But one can be charitable and still say, look, it may not be lying, but it’s still something that is hard to do. You’re putting up an image that is at best a mirage, and you have to inject energy, and emotions, into making sure it materializes into something more than a mirage. Because people can detect when something feels forced, and that makes them wonder a lot more: If this person is forcing themselves to pretend that they really like this, it can’t be that good, can it? If it was as good as they said it was, why would they need to force it? You would genuinely be happy about it.
And so, it felt painful (ita) to watch the videos where Ciaela had to promote something. Like, granted, it may be hard to make videos regularly about a normal life that seem interesting. You wake up, work, come home, do your own stuff and sleep. Short of an anime plot unfolding, it’s a pretty ordinary existence. And so one may be tempted to conclude that promoting stuff gives some variety, like you’re talking about something new on your channel for once.
On that note though, one sees the obvious objection (I’m sorry, I like alliteration haha): Some people may have ordinary lives, but they still contribute and influence discussion through their thoughts on things which happen around the world. Which one only has to read current news and think about it, or it can be based on one’s personal experience. Few people live exactly the same life though there are general similarities (
death and taxes), so sometimes an ordinary person’s view is valuable simply because he is ordinary.
And some of you reading this will say, NO WAIT, she’s done something like this before! And dagnabbit right you are, Ciaela has indeed done something like this before. And it was interesting, I watched it and didn’t feel like I wasted my time watching it, which is pretty good. Like, it’s hard to elicit that feeling from a video: I watch my own drum covers and wonder why I recorded them in the first place sometimes.
But anyway, I subbed to her, stopped for a bit, came back and saw her most recent video where she mentioned how she’s finished her soul searching and has left the agency that she was previously under. A hard thing to do (the former perhaps, moreso than the latter), but she has hit it spot on: It’s better to do what originally you were good at rather than, well, trying to force yourself to fit into a particular mold or ideal.
That’s not to say one shouldn’t go out and explore things – I don’t doubt Ciaela’s learnt a lot from her experience, and this too can be chalked up to experience. But when push comes to shove and one has to decide whether they’re going to continue living life as a shadow of themselves, a misrepresented fragment or shard of who they truly are as a person, or try something else, then maybe the choice is a bit easier to make.
I bring forth the case of unrested, who’s another Western person living in Japan and who vlogs about his life in Japan. Y’know, I’m expecting people to click on that link and say WAIT HE’S NOT AS FAMOUS AS MICAELA IS, HOW CAN YOU COMPARE HIM TO HER?!*bish*
Hear me out, hear me out.Yes, that dude has only 36k subs, a drop in the ocean compared to Micaela’s 269k subs. Specifically, a drop worth 13% of her ocean, if one is taking his subs as a percentage of her subs.
And yes, maybe he doesn’t make a living from YT like Micaela does, he teaches English (iirc, he might’ve changed since I last watched him) and YT seems to be more of a hobby to him. But his vids that inform viewers of what he thinks on things that happen, or even just random occurrences (saucy though some may be), are pretty informative, and it doesn’t feel forced. He takes in questions from his viewers, decides what he wants to answer, and makes a video about it. There is at least some element of agency involved in deciding the content and how he is going to present it, which is unfortunately not really something that you can do when under specific instructions and when you’re getting paid for it.
So, maybe he’s a much smaller YTber compared to Micaela and is simply in a different situation, but I would still be interested to watch Micaela’s versions of JFAQs (which she has indeed done in the past). Heck, they can even be about the same topic: Having a different person’s point of view to confirm, deny or simply be neutral on something is pretty interesting. After all, is that what comes out of conversations? People voice their (unpromoted, genuine) opinions, and one decides whether to accept or reject it. But without something to respond to, people may just go ‘ahh…’. (Also for those that argue sometimes you can have genuine promotion of a product without advertising for it – yes, Micaela’s done that. But short of putting ‘Not an ad’ in the title, how are viewers supposed to know it? It’s like the boy that cried wolf: once bitten, twice shy. I had certainly skipped all vids from Micaela till her most recent one simply because I didn’t know whether it was an advertisement or not from the title, and why should one bother? So it’s more of a brand name and track record – once you’ve established a reputation for something, it’s hard to change it unless you do something drastic, like her vid when she announced that she had left her agency and talked quite plainly about how she felt.)
And while I’m wishing for Micaela to make vids of those she did in the past, I might as well add in ‘make more duets and Japanese versions of pop songs! And talk about obscure subcultures like odottemita so random guys like me have actually got some hard evidence of our ideas AND can hear from the POV of someone that lives there and knows what they’re talking about. Maybe I’m just biased towards odottemita, but honestly any subculture will be interesting to learn about from someone that lives there, esp. if you’ve got friends that are inside it as well. I want to hear about what Japanese people think, I want to hear about what you think of how Japanese people think, and how Japanese people think you think. There’s just so much potential out there for conversations about human beings trying to understand each other (complex though this topic is) that books have been written about them – it should be more fodder for many, many videos. Well edited and thought out, it will take time, but Ciaela said herself that she doesn’t like to upload things that she’s not happy with. It may not be perfectionism, but just pride in one’s work, which I don’t think is necessarily a bad thing.
(and how Japanese people think Japanese think..)
Anyway, that’s it. I don’t have the same ardour and zeal towards J-culture and J-life as I used to, but it is nice to see someone returning, after an excursion, to something that they were originally pretty good at. Ciaela can certainly do things differently from what unrested does, think differently, talk about different topics, etc. That’s worth, at the very least, more attention and more clicks in the near future.