Are shopping videos haul they're made out to be?

Posted at 3:00 PM May 06, 2010

By Andrea Grimes


YouTube has had no small part in this new era of overshare, not least of which is the apparent trend of putting childbirth videos online. But while there may be something educational and useful about a gaping, baby-producing vag video, I fail to see who in the world could care even the tiniest bit about "haul videos."

What is a "haul video," you ask? The New York Times is here to tell you, today: they're home-filmed vids featuring (mostly) women showing off the crap they just bought at Target or wherever.

... a phenomenon that has been sweeping YouTube for more than a year in which women, most of them young, methodically share their fashion and beauty purchases. The videos are the virtual equivalent of watching a girlfriend show off her finds after a shopping trip. And, in a recession, they fulfill a voyeuristic thrill: seeing how other people spend money.

Haul videos have also turned into a lucrative enterprise for some. Ms. Ponce De Leon, for instance, earns $1,000 a month through YouTube's "partners" program, which gives members a share of the profits from advertisements that appear with their videos. Some haulers receive money from the companies whose products they review -- usually in disclosed, sponsored posts, but sometimes under the table.

Oh my sweet 8-pound baby Christlord. It's like taking all the rampant consumerism and product-ogling of TLC and Lifetime reality shows plus The Real Housewives of Who Gives a Shit and putting it in a similarly poorly produced video format, but without all the vaguely riveting drama and human interest stories.

The "haul video" started as a kind of home product review, wherein real women would talk about the pros and cons of their various purchases. Useful! But in short order, it seems "haul videos" have become thinly-veiled endorsements for various crappery. Per the experience of one hauler:

"Ms. Ponce De Leon said that based on the ways that companies had approached her, undisclosed payments between haulers and suppliers were probably routine. Although she does sometimes accept free products, she said, she does not take money. "I am very leery now of taking things for free and if I do take something for free, I really test it out for a while," she said. If Ms. Ponce De Leon takes her role seriously, there is a good reason: nearly 48,000 people have watched her 12-minute video about the Ugg boots.

I was lost at "12-minute video about the Ugg boots." And god, I hope I stay lost. Way lost. Desert-for-40-days lost. Up-creek-without-paddle-lost. Ladies, I apologize deeply for not giving a fuck about what you just bought at the store. Because I really don't. Show me 45 minutes of cat videos. Teach me how to knit a martini kozy. But sweet god, can we not spend our time making useless videos of meaningless products and under-the-table paid reviews thereof?


RubyRoses said:

Wait. What? That's nuts. I just get home, try the stuff on again, walk around and what-not...cut off the tags and wash it all..never feel like filming it for folks.

Tasha said:

Hmm, I didn't first see this kind of video with strictly women and clothes/beauty. I saw it first in the gaming community, when people started filming themselves opening packages of the loot they scored on Ebay (or got from other gamers) - vintage games, consoles, mods, etc. Also from other hobby collectors doing the same. Yes, its all terribly consumerist "I am contributing, look at my stuff" - but its not nearly as female-centric as this article makes it out to be.

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