Online, 15 year-old Venus Palermo is "Venus Angelic". With her huge anime eyes and pale skin, she plays up her doll-like appearance with special contacts and make-up. And this London-based teen is starting to gain followers in both Japan and the West.
"Mommy cooks Japanese, thinks Japanese, goes to Japan with me," Palermo wrote on her blog (via Yahoo!). "Because we like it. Liking something, is soooooo GREAT!"
Um, great? Actually, that is great. Learning about a new culture and learning a new language are both wonderful. But that's not all that is going on here.
"The case of Venus Angelic is uncomfortably exploitative, as there is clearly a sexual undertone to what she is doing," Hilary Levey Friedman, PhD, a Harvard sociologist, told Yahoo!. "In general, young girls on YouTube is a disturbing, growing trend."
It's a trend that also exists in Japan—and, well, pretty much anywhere! Though, Venus seems to be trying to gain fame like Brit teen Beckii Cruel did a few years back after her dancing videos went viral in Japan.
In one video titled "Wow, they're huge", the image thumb shows Venus in a low-cut dress. In the video, she does what looks like is a product pitch. It's false advertising and sexually exploitive.
Sure, it's all fun and games until a crazy dude calls you on a webchat—which is what happened on a live webchat on Japan's often wild video site, Nico Nico Douga. The conversation is unsettling—not just because the guy is either crazy or trolling, but because the girl is chatting with grown dudes online and doing so in front of her mother. It's like that makes it okay. It doesn't.
Almost nearly as unsettling is her music video, "Venus Desu", which looks like it was filmed in an Ikea.
As Friedman pointed out, Justin Bieber got his start on YouTube, so there might be a new generation of YouTube stage moms replacing the traditional stage moms.
Fun and games until the crazy dude isn't just trying to talk to you via Nico Nico Douga, but in person.