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Teens prefer YouTube stars to Hollywood celebs, survey says

If you're between 13 and 18, you're apparently more enamored of Smosh than Jennifer Lawrence.

One half of Smosh. Not sure if he's Smo or Osh. Smosh/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

I confess, I haven't been effusive in embracing the stars of YouTube. This may have something to do with the fact that I am not between 13 and 18 years old.

It appears that the teens of today may be moved more by the likes of Smosh, PewDiePie, and KSI than by, you know, Hollywood stars such as Betty White.

The only evidence I have is a survey, published this week in Variety, that attempted to rank stars of screens large and small according to various criteria. The survey, which was commissioned in July, asked 1,500 US respondents a "battery of questions assessing how 20 well-known personalities stacked up in terms of approachability, authenticity and other criteria considered aspects of their overall influence."

Regular readers will know that I have about as much faith in research as I have in Vladimir Putin's homespun goodness, so my salt-mine stash is at hand.

However, the teens believed that Smosh -- a comedy duo comprising Andrew Hecox and Anthony Padilla -- deserved the highest scores. The lowest of the 20 personalities offered up was the now portly serial model-dater and excellent Leonardo DiCaprio impersonator, Leonardo DiCaprio.

The top 5 in the rankings were all YouTube stars, while the top-ranking Hollywood star was "Fast and Furious" actor Paul Walker, who died last year.

The survey was conducted by Jeetendr Sehdev, who specializes in celebrity brand strategies, which sounds like one of the top 5 jobs in the world.

He believes that those who appear on YouTube come across as less manipulated by the image-crafting machine. Teens who enjoy them feel they have a much closer relationship with YouTube stars than with the manicured essences emitted by Hollywood.

There is also the troubling distinction between notoriety and true appeal. YouTube stars emerge from the ground up, as it were. Hollywood stars are pushed, sold, and marketed before their authenticity has even a chance to take hold.

The full results (click to enlarge).Variety