If you’re still reeling from the idea that YouTube stars can cultivate teen fandemonium comparable to 90’s era boy bands—get ready, because it’s happening again.
Vine stars—the niche, digital media celebrities who have gained popularity over fleeting, six second clips—have caught on like wildfire amongst teen girls.
Meet Jack and Jack. Jack Gilinsky, 17, and Jack Johnson, 18, are two teens from Omaha, Nebraska, who garnered fame by creating humorous six-second clips together on Vine. The duo, who arrived in San Francisco last week as a part of their DigiTour tour, have amassed 4.3 million followers on Vine. And these followers, almost exclusively from the teen girl set, showed up to the sold-out tour venue in droves.
Jack and Jack are also part of a bigger group of Vine stars called Magcon, a collection of 10 Vine celebrities—nine of which are white, teen boys. The makings of your standard boy band fare.
The response to these Vine stars are overwhelming, and just a little perplexing as to exactly why stars like Jack and Jack have found fame. Fans told ReadWrite they’re passionate about the pair because Jack and Jack are “fun,” and they love the fact that the boys are good friends.
Vine stars like Jack and Jack often start as popular users of the medium and then branch off into other forms of digital media after hitting stardom. The pair is partnered with Fullscreen—a YouTube multi-channel network that operates as an agency for digital media stars—to feature in the network’s series of concerts and tours.
So what exactly can certain Vine stars, people known more for personality and relatability, showcase at a concert or show? After gaining popularity on the video app, Jack and Jack started creating pop music singles, which they perform at their live shows.
The novelty of these kinds of digital media stars can leave many of the higher ups confused about to handle the burgeoning popularity. Leashes are held Hollywood-tight on these new stars, many of whom were just everyday teens who stumbled into fame.
I was not allowed press access to either the venue or for an interview with Jack and Jack because of a dispute between their agency and the DigiTour organizers. When asked if the boys could make their own decisions for interviews, DigiTour said that the boys have no choice in the matter.
This type of A-list exclusivity is strange for stars birthed from digital media—a particular kind of fame that is built on accessibility, not exclusion. But discovering talent on mediums like Vine and YouTube is not a bad idea for Hollywood types looking to create the next great boy band. After all, the success of many manufactured boy bands are built firstly on personality and attractiveness.
Teen girls undeniably love Jack and Jack, and are as passionate about the Vine stars as they would be towards, say, groups like One Direction. Where might we expect the next boy band phenomenon to originate from?
Images by Stephanie Chan.