Yesterday Funemployed, an entertaining 11-episode web series, released its final episode. The series is about two best friends who lose their jobs and decide to try careers as internet media stars, all while juggling romantic interests.
In my opinion this series is very cutting edge in its medium format and distribution; it's a peek at what entertainment and media are going to look like more and more over the next five to ten years.
One interesting aspect of this project is it's a collaboration between real-life internet stars KevJumba, Nigahiga, David Choi, and Wong Fu Productions, who came together to form a YouTube Voltron. The project took them 8 months to complete.
Each of these Funemployed performers are already Youtube celebrities in their own rights. I would argue that some of their audience numbers rival Nielsen ratings on more traditional media (wink at forward-thinking advertisers). Consider the fact that:
- Nigahiha is YouTube's #1 all-time subscribed overall channel and #1 all-time subscribed comedian, with 520 million total web views of his videos.
- KevJumba has over 1 million subscribers and is the #8 all-time subscribed comedian.
- David Choi is the #9 all-time subscribed musician with 67 million total views of his songs.
- Wong Fu Productions has collaborated on music videos and short films with dozens of noted Asian American artists and performers.
The web series they've created is paced and edited well, with a good mix of funny and touching moments. From the comments below each episode, I'd be willing to bet many of their fans would pay to see a second season. One aspect I like about the series is how it smoothly incorporates the unique signatures of each performer. Audiences still get KevJumba's great sense of humor and timing, blended with Phil Wang's unassertive nice-guy character, with Nigahiga's quirkiness sprinkled in. The exception to this is David Choi, who is known more for his immense musical talent and original songs, but pulls off a hilarious character audiences hadn't seen before.
The huge popularity (by audience views) of the Funemployed collaborators, individually and together, shows just how silly past excuses have been to explain why so few Asian Americans are given a chance in film, television, and music (excuses like Asian Americans are not marketable, funny, or popular enough to appeal to an American audience). With the ability nowadays to feed internet content directly into HD televisions, entertainment and media is in vital stages of being redefined.
Since YouTube's creation in 2005, a generation of adolescents are becoming more open-minded to seeing Asian Americans in entertainment and in media. One example of a group benefiting from this is Legaci, an Asian American musical group asked by Justin Bieber to tour with him. Justin Bieber himself was discovered on YouTube at age 13. A few years from now, the systemic issues among traditional media gatekeepers may become irrelevant as the internet continues to explode in popularity, and as new platforms are created to monetize the content of these internet stars.
[Update]: Funemployed also released a music video called Dance to this Song.