I'm not a part of BookTube, which means you can take my opinion as you want. I have no influence over BookTube and very rarely have an opinion on the workings of it, but I thought that because I am a blogger, I might be able to add an outside opinion to the discussion that might be of some worth.
The recent debacle regarding "critical" vs. "non-critical" reviews has, in my opinion, blown itself out of proportion. Both sides of #BeCritical have made blanketed statements that I honestly find erroneous and I think there is a middle ground that both could also agree about, but seem to be missing due to some mistaken word choices and anger/defensiveness.
I watch a variety of BookTubers. I watch people like TheBookTuber, JessetheReader, MaureenKeavy, VincentVanStop, LittleBookOwl, Elizziebooks, and CharleyReads - all of whom talk about YA most of the time. I also watch RonLit, JVPurcell, BazPierce, LizLovesLit, ReadSusieRead, Katrina E, and Books and Pieces - all of whom primarily talk about literary texts. (I also watch Ariel Bissett, but I don't know where to place her. [I watch a lot of other BookTubers as well, but I don't want this list to be astronomical.])
All of the above, however, are well worth checking out.
Before I start, there are two great videos for you to check out regarding both sides: Barry's Liveshow and CharleyReads' response video.
I want to condense what I think to be the main point of both sides:
#BeCritical's Side: If you want to be taken academically serious as a reviewer, then you need to write critical reviews. If you do not, then you can't expect a review that hasn't thought critically about a book to be taken seriously by academics. If you write reviews for fun or as a hobby, then you can write them however you like. If you are being paid to talk about and review a book, then you need to take it seriously because it is not longer a hobby, it is a job.
Where I think they went wrong: The usage of the word "worthless" and saying that unless a reader can produce a critical or negative review then they have no place on BookTube was a bit too extreme. They also failed to mention the difference between a paid reader and a reader who is reviewing for fun, at first, so it did come off as a blanketed statement and, of course, a lot of people took offense to that.
#DontBeADick's Side: (This is the hashtag I've seen floating around so I'm using it, ha.) All opinion has merit and every opinion is valid because it is the voice of the consumer. There will be different audiences for different types of reviewers.
Where I think they went wrong: They failed to realize that #BeCritical's main argument is for those who are wanting to reach a specific kind of audience and for those who are being paid to review. Also, the conflating of the words "critical" and "negative." There are fantastic critical reviews that are positive, and I recommend anyone check out Wendy Darling on Goodreads for an example of this.
The truth is, both sides are agreeing on the same thing: that if you review as a hobby and for fun, then you can review however you want. #BeCritical went on to establish their point that if a person is reviewing as a hobby then they do not have to write critical reviews or be a critical reader. However, if that person is being paid, then that changes everything.
The truth is that it was revealed that the BOOKSPLOSION members get paid a lot of money to showcase the books that they read each month. Now, some of these members, like JessetheReader, I have to applaud - because he has been very transparent. Whenever I watch a video of his, he always mentions whether or not it's being sponsored and I have to say that I really admire him for doing that, especially in light of recent revelations. I cannot say the same for other BOOKSPLOSION members who have never (at least that I've seen) mentioned that their videos are being sponsored and that they're being paid to review.
The truth is that as soon as you accept money to do something, it is no longer a hobby, it is a job. As a job, it should be treated more seriously. You have a responsibility to your viewers to be as honest and open as possible. You should say that your videos are being sponsored and the opinion that you give on a book should be thought about before saying anything because it is now your job. BookTubers were never meant to be simple booksellers, which is what seems to be happening with this lack of transparency in sponsorship.
Personally, I feel a bit offended that there are these big BookTubers who are being paid to mention a certain book in at least two of their videos and then never mention that they're being paid. I find it offensive that they seem to be quite flippant about the responsibility that they have towards their work. As a viewer, it feels dishonest and, dare I say, a little disgusting when I compare it to the Book Blogging Community.
When a book blogger receives an ARC from a publisher or something like Netgalley, they always say that they received the copy for free. Our number one goal is honesty, both in how we receive something and in how we state our views on it. I can't even imagine a book blogger being paid to review something. And, as a whole, we tend to take our reviews seriously because we want to really explain why we liked or disliked a book.
By attacking each other over the idea of critical reviews and misunderstanding each other's points, I think that the BookTube community is missing the vital issue at hand: that there are people being paid to review and receiving free books that are not mentioning it and are not being transparent. That is very problematic.
There does not need to be a schism in your community. You do not all need to get along, but I think you agree on more than you think.
As I said, I'm a blogger, so you can take this with a grain of salt. Just thought I'd throw my two cents in as an observer.