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And now for the Back Story on …
The joys of watching other people clean
Vacuuming floors, scrubbing bathtubs, folding laundry. That’s not just a household to-do list — it’s also a list of what you’ll find on a popular genre of YouTube channel, in videos like “Clean with Me” or “Extreme Cleaning.” The Morning newsletter looked at why the videos are so popular.
The videos are largely motivational: Some people watch them while cleaning their own homes, and others use them as inspiration — especially during the pandemic, when many people need a pick-me-up. “The influencers play the role of cheerleader and best friend, commiserating about the mess and offering strategies on how to tackle it,” The Times’s Ronda Kaysen writes.
The genre also has an aspirational quality, similar to home-improvement TV shows. The homes are usually large, with expansive kitchens. The videos are set to soothing music, and their stars are often young women. The videos reframe, and monetize, their labor.
Jessica Tull started her channel in 2017 as a way to make friends while she was at home with small children. “My ex-husband laughed at me,” Tull told The Times. He said there was no way she could make a living cleaning the house on YouTube. She has more than half a million followers, and YouTube is her full-time job.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
Carole Landry helped write this briefing. Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh provided the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected]
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