This week, juice vlogger Yvonne Coldeweijer and Rachel Hazes faced each other in court. According to Hazes, Coldeweijer brings out a deluge of untruths about her.
Threshold to leak is lower
The widow of Hazes senior wants to get Coldeweijer to take a specific vlog offline. In it, Coldeweijer (684,000 followers on Instagram) reads a letter that Hazes junior would have sent to his ex. His mother Rachel would have leaked it, according to Coldeweijer. Rachel Hazes denies that.
Are juice channels the modern equivalent of the tabloid press, or not quite? Media scientist Linda Duitsland: “The gossip magazines used to say: ‘Andre Hazes senior is having an affair, sources around the family report’. But the threshold for leaking something to a juice channel is considerably lower.”
According to German, it makes quite a difference whether you have to contact an editor or whether you can quickly send an Instagram message to, for example, @lifeofyvonne. “Not only people from the environment of the celebrities, but also employees of hospitals, airlines, you name it, can easily share information.”
“The fact that we live in an era of constant surveillance is very tangible for celebrities through juice channels,” the scientist continues. “At once they can’t really trust anyone anymore, that seems extremely frightening to me.”
Celebrities have always needed the tabloid press to maintain their fame, German emphasises. Conversely – evidently – traditional gossip journalists and paparazzi couldn’t do without celebrities either. The advent of social media has changed the relationship.
Victory for stars
German: “Social media was initially a triumph for the stars. They no longer needed photographers or writers to paint a picture of them. Take Kim Kardashian, for example, the queen of selfies. By taking tons of photos herself and through her own channels, she had ultimate control over what image was created of her.”
The media scientist adds: “If you share a beautiful photo of your newborn baby as a celebrity, it’s not much use for a paparazzi to wait for you with a photo camera in the bushes.”
Juice channels have, as it were, now partly reclaimed power from the Dutch celebrities, says German. Coldeweijer is not the only one to be successful in this. RoddelPraat, Juicechannel and Reality FBI, among others, also have the necessary followers.
“We all make mistakes sometimes,” says German. “We drink too much once, make a very wrong joke. As a celebrity you may now feel that you can no longer trust anyone, that anyone can send a photo or video if you misbehave once.”
Perhaps with major consequences for the public’s image of someone: “What kind of paranoid status does that result in?”
The large number of followers that Yvonne Coldeweijer has, makes it clear that there is a market for gossip about the stars. Something we already knew, of course. German: “For example, about film characters who – in their role – cheat, you can talk to friends. It is a moral theme. What did you think of that? This is how we establish standards, we discover what we find inappropriate. About Dutch celebrities we talk the same way.”
But celebrities are not characters: “We often don’t think about that. We forget that these are real people, with real feelings. For whom their actions also have real consequences.”
The audience of a juice channel like Coldeweijer’s is an anonymous mass. “People then think, she already has 680,000 followers, I can still reach that. The power of the public is great, without the public there is no right to exist. The power of the individual, on the other hand, is very small. However, that does not relieve you of the duty to keep asking yourself where the limit is for you, what do I want to see and what not. Which channel do I want to follow and which one not?”
Curious about behavior
Psychologist Irina Poleacov cites the Big Brother program – the first season of which aired on Dutch television in 1999 – as an early example of how curious we are about other people’s behaviour.
The program was a hit. More than 3.5 million people watched the final. “It quickly felt very normal that we could peek into other people’s lives. People who might remind you of yourself, or do things that you don’t dare do. How other people do things, we find that very interesting.”
There used to be far fewer options in our society than there are now, says Poleacov. A family with a father, a mother, children, that was how many people lived. “Society is now much more differentiated. Who you live with, have sex with, what you watch on TV, what profession you have, how you identify yourself, the possibilities are endless. Our curiosity about others has only grown. behind other people’s front doors?”
We find celebrities quite interesting. “They have status. And because we see them a lot on TV, on the one hand we feel that we know them, while on the other hand they are like moving pictures for us, not real people. So we say ugly things about them much more easily than about people whom we meet in real life.”
Celebrities, says Poleacov, become a kind of social property. “Because you have that status, we can know everything about you.”
In addition, we are also sharing more and more of our own personal stories on social media. “There is an idea among many people that that is healing, good.” Private is becoming less and less private anyway.
Feeling of safety
Our curiosity, the accessibility of juice channels, the ease with which information can be shared and disseminated non-stop on social media, it does not make life easier for the famous Dutchman who hopes to have a private life as well.
“We all have dark sides and things we regret,” says psychologist Poleacov. “Celebrities too, in addition to all the other sides they also have. They also want to feel loved, safe, cherished. Picking out their bad sides and exposing them publicly is at odds with that. Always having the feeling that they can be spied on makes something about your trust in people and your sense of security.”
Yvonne Coldeweijer has also been asked to comment on this story, but has not responded despite several requests.