Saturday, November 2, 2013

Jenna Marbles: An Unconventional Way Of Teaching

Us girls are funny.  Whether or not we recognize it, we go to great lengths, sometimes bordering on torture, in order to trick the general public that we are mentally and physically flawless.  An ongoing theme of this class, this can be drawn back to the male gaze and how it affects a woman’s every move.  However I recently heard of a small-town girl who is pushing back at the idea of being “perfectly feminine” by exposing the true nature of women, using her own brand of mockery and a camera as her platform.  She goes by the name of Jenna Marbles (née Mourey) and I’m sure many of you are familiar with her.  Since posting her first blog on Youtube in 2010, she has made a sizable collection of videos that have earned her 11 milllion subscribers and over 1 billion views-- ranking her the 6th most popular channel on the international website.
Those of you who are familiar with her videos know that she is unapologetically crass and goofy, which is the overlying message of nearly all of her posts.  But if you strip away all showmanship, you’ll see that  the topics she addresses in most of her videos touch on very real subjects.  Her delivery is overtly comical, but what really makes her videos funny is how relatable they are-- we laugh because we recognize this nonsensical behavior in ourselves.  
She often makes videos that comment on the differences between the sexes (eg. “How Girls Pack a Suitcase” v. “How Guys Pack a Suitcase”), and if you look beyond the entertainment value, you can see she’s expressing her dissatisfaction the roles women are forced into-- being vain, docile sex toys who ultimately work hard to conform to that image.  Bells hooks said that “Film must be free of all imitations, of which the most dangerous is the imitation of life” and I think that Jenna Marbles, as silly as she may seem, is answering that warning, one video at a time (hooks 1)
I’m sure many people will find the connection between Hooks and Ms. Marbles hard to swallow, but stay with me here:  Hooks tells us that movies, or videos, are “the perfect vehicle” to give people insight into the lives of “the other”, and Jenna does just that, giving men an idea of what girls are really like behind closed doors (hooks 2)  She strips her videos of the dangerous imitations hooks cautions us about, showing the uncomfortable and unattractive side of women .  I think this is exactly what society needs-- an exposure of the everyday life and rituals of the real American girl.
For female viewers, what’s great about her is that she’s sending the message that it’s okay to be the way you are and feel the way you do, because it’s likely that the girl next to you is probably stressing over the same issues that make you feel imperfect:  dawdling in the bathroom, being bored during sex, etc.  We’ve all been there and we all act as if we’re above it, but we’re not-- and that’s okay.  I think what she’s doing is leading the way for more women to say “My life isn’t as cool and effortless as I lead people to believe, so let’s cut the bullshit.”  

Her tongue-in-cheek first video is a commentary on the ridiculous things girls do to make themselves more attractive:

For male viewers, it sends a similar message:  Girls are not perfect, so don’t judge them so harshly for being human beings.  It also clues men in on the fact that girls know that they’re not perfect, either.  For each video that details a daily task a girl does, there’s usually one that shows how a guy does it, too.  Some guys may argue that what she does in those particular videos doesn’t apply to them, but like i said before, if you find yourself laughing, it’s because you relate to it.  And not all 11 million of her subscribers are female, which means that guys are finding something true here, too.

"What Boys Do In The Bathroom In The Morning"

"Things Boys Don't Understand"

The fact of the matter is that people like this girl. I'm sure there are several reasons why, but I suspect her tell-it-like-it-is attitude is what really wins people over. And even if you don't like her, you can't deny her reach-- a Time magazine poll shows that she is one of the most influential millennials-- beating out Mark Zuckerberg and Lena Dunham (

Even the New York Times has taken notice, calling her the "reigning queen of Youtube". She clearly knows that she's in a powerful position, saying in a recent interview that her future plans are just to "continue making people feel a little less weird; maybe a little more normal" (

Her approach may be somewhat unconventional, but this girl, with her tremendous fanbase, is doing her part to bring some real perspective to the life of the American female.

Works Cited

Hooks, Bell. Reel to Real: Race, Sex, and Class at the Movies. New York, NY: Routledge, 1996. N. pag. Print.

Mourey, Jenna. "Jenna Marbles Page." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 7 Nov. 2013.

O'Leary, Amy. "The Woman With 1 Billion Clicks, Jenna Marbles." The New York Times. The New York Times, 12 Aug.      2013. Web. 7 Nov. 2013.

"Poll: Who’s the Most Influential Millennial?" N.p., 9 May 2013. Web. 7 Nov. 2013.

No comments:

Post a Comment