When the US chain Borders opened up its own-branded bookshops in the UK a few years ago, I found browsing there a frustrating experience because they had no category for BIOGRAPHY (or autobiography). Someone told me this was fairly standard in the US but certainly not in the UK, which seems to have an unquenchable appetite for biographies.
In the case of Borders UK (which collapsed in 2009), they bookshelved biographies according to subject. Which meant you had to sometimes guess what they thought the subject was. How do you categorise Brian Blessed? Eccentric? Actor? Mountaineer? Does the biography of Lawrence of Arabia go under Military, Middle East or Gay?
In the case of my chum Janey Godley, her autobiography Handstands in the Dark runs the gamut from child abuse to British gangsters to Scottish social history to drug culture, psychology and more. Sometimes Borders categorised it as ‘Comedy’ because she is best known as a comedian.
This week, my chum – journalist, songwriter, comedian Ariane Sherine – she too is difficult to categorise – started a series of YouTube videos called Ariane Sherine Eats Clean and Gets Lean. It is about losing weight.
It has some chance of being successful because it is the sort of thing that might appeal to housewives in mid-America, which I understand is where the viral hits come from – as well as from spotty teenagers in the US and elsewhere, who will appreciate the underwear sequences.
The first introductory ‘episode’ was rather different to what you might expect from a series of videos about losing weight. In Ariane’s own words: “It features my #MeToo story of being sexually assaulted hundreds of times and my struggles with depression, anxiety, OCD and weight gain.”
You could also throw in jaw-droppingly honest psychological insights.
The odd thing about this introductory video to her series is the YouTube category she put it under.
She categorised it as ‘Comedy’.
You can use multiple tags on a YouTube video, but can only define it as being in one Category.
These are the possible categories:
Autos & Vehicles
Film & Animation
How to & Style
News & Politics
Nonprofits & Activism
People & Blogs
Pets & Animals
Science & Technology
Travel & Events
Which is the correct category for a dark, autobiographical, psychological piece covering sexual assault, mental problems, eating disorders and suicide?
Ariane has tagged her Introduction video in multiple ways, but she has put it under the category ‘Comedy’ because she is currently primarily known for her humorous musical numbers.
Which I guess is right.
But unavoidably unsatisfying and confusing.