“Their Earlier Stuff Was So Much Better…”: Criticism of ASMRtists

I remember years ago, in the midst of a conversation about defining the terms “nerd” and “dork”. We concluded that everyone is a “dork” about something – anything about which they are truly passionate; therefore they know enough about it to teeter on annoying anyone else when discussing it. A “nerd” was someone who portrayed knowing more than anyone about anything.

From this decision, I am most definitely a dork about music – knowing certain artists and their recorded output so deeply, that few tolerate any conversation with me about music at all. I often go to great lengths to talk about why some albums were better than others, while some showed more experimentation, or that an artist should really return to making records like the first two…on and on, ad infinitum.

Joe Jackson’s Jumpin’ Jive only reached #42 on the US Billboard 200 in 1981

Let’s face it; there is always some moment in any artist’s career when he/she decides to try something out of the ordinary, contrary to people’s expectations. I remember when new wave pop artist Joe Jackson decided to put out a record in 1981 that was simply an homage to the big band jazz music he grew up with – all done with true big band jazz arrangements and musicians. Guaranteed no radio play, small sales. Yet, he did it. Also, around that same time, Elvis Costello did something similar, but with a country music album with covers of some of his favorite artists; he even recorded it with some session players right in Nashville.

In both of these instances, both fans and critics turned on these artists. How dare they do something different?

“…he ruined his career…she’ll lose her recording contract…that was stupid…they suck…I will never buy another album by them again!”

I’d like to say that this doesn’t happen anymore – that somehow with so much new and varied music out there, no one is surprised when an artist experiments anymore – but it does happen, and often. And not just to musicians. It has been going on, and continues as I write, directly in the ASMR community.

In recent months, I’ve seen a handful of ASMRtists that I follow respond via video to subscriber requests. Now this is nothing new; however, these requests came as more of a throwing-my-hands-up-in-surrender type of response. Content creators were reacting to requests from their viewers that they needed to “go back” and revisit content from earlier in their ASMR careers . Regardless that these “back in the day” videos still exists on these continuously innovative and updated channels, viewers seem hell bent on content creators giving in to demands.

Truth be told, just about every ASMRtist (with few exceptions) have always asked viewers for new ideas, or feedback on some current content. And in general, most of the ideas and feedback seems to spur on creativity. The real issue here is that of obviously creative, unapologetically original, content creators blasted publicly, almost to levels of shame, made to feel as if they have forgotten their “core” subscribers.

What time is it? Oh yeah. Time to chill out, bro.

“…why can’t you go and make something like your old mouth sounds videos…wtf?…I can’t stand this garbage…please, I can’t sleep without your side to side whisper…this (*expletive*) sucks; make videos people like, not this crap…”

Admittedly, these are paraphrased examples of comments I’ve read, but I did so for anonymity on both sides. Why are those content creators who are truly original, creative, and fearless to taking chances, so consistently berated by their own fan base? Just because one individual has been a subscriber for many years, and a Patreon supporter, does not make it acceptable to demand the content creator restrict creativity or experimentation. These individuals spend money they often cannot afford to spend, on upgrading equipment, building props, soundproofing their recording space, solely for the joy of bringing comfort and relief to others. After viewing so much repetitiveness on YouTube, ASMR-related and other content, why blame these folks for wanting to try something new? Most especially, for those who have made this at least a part-time career, isn’t it in their best interest to be bold and innovative, if only to perhaps gain a wider audience?

Maybe this has to do with the human psyche. After reading another article on this website detailing the trials of “falling in love” with an ASMRtist, maybe individuals feel like they “know” these creators, after having subscribed and perhaps shared a comment or two back and forth. Perhaps there’s a feeling of entitlement like, “Hey, I subscribe to you and support you on Patreon. So you should do what I ask you to do.” It

would certainly explain this resentment a little bit.

I have to wonder what would our world look like had more people in history given in to demands like these; where artistic and creative people were told to stick to the status quo because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It’s OK to enjoy only some of what an ASMRtist creates, just as it’s OK to enjoy only certain foods, or certain television shows, or certain books. Simply put, in any other real-world situation, suggestions are simply that. When you’re at a concert, and shout out the name of a song to the band playing, there’s very little chance that they’ll play it unless it’s on their set list. So what’s the difference? Yet complaining about, and publicly insulting ASMRtists who don’t take every suggestion they receive is considered acceptable. Simply put, it’s a bullying tactic, it’s offensive, and it will never get you what you want.

In conclusion, each of us have had a moment where a favorite author/musician/artist created something new to which we could not connect. It happens, and it’s OK. But to demand status quo impedes creativity, progress and growth, both artistically and personally. My suggestion to you is this: if you don’t like the newly released “single”, head back to the “deep cuts” earlier in their catalog of work, and relive those moments of joy. You can still continue to subscribe and support; but, all the while remember that “support” is more than just subscribing and donating. Be mindful that support, which viewers receive from these artists daily through their content, is an exchange, not a gift. Support with your words of encouragement and suggestion, without the denigrating remarks and entitled demands.