Famous Without A Face: What Happens When Creators Shed Anonymity

Christine Cozzo
December 2, 2022

Dream’s Nightmare

With over 30 million YouTube subscribers, Minecraft player “Dream” rose to fame without ever showing his face. From the beginning, he carefully concealed his identity, leaving his appearance to his audience’s imagination. Even his in-game character wore a mask. His anonymity was an intriguing part of his brand, as is the case for many other gamers, meme pages, and content creators of this era.

But just this October, Dream gave fans what they had wanted for years: a face reveal. And… the Internet was about as kind as you would think. 

He’s just a normal-looking guy, but Twitter was disappointed. Hashtags like #HESUGLY and #PutTheMaskBackOn trended on the platform, while loyal fans defended him. The whole ordeal left me wondering if it was even worth it for Dream to do the face reveal in the first place. Should creators reveal their face and reap the profits, or would they fare better as a blank avatar that fans can fill in with their own hopes and dreams?



To Reveal Or Not To Reveal

The Allure of Anonymity

If you’re an anonymous creator considering a face reveal, you should carefully consider the benefits (and the dangers) of showing the world who you really are. To start, depending on your content niche, your anonymity could be exactly what draws your audience in. Going faceless can come across as down-to-Earth, like you aren’t looking for fame.

Some viewers may even enjoy imagining your appearance more than they would actually seeing it. According to psychologist Perpetua Ne, humans have always been fascinated with anonymity. Recently, we saw this phenomenon in the QAnon conspiracy. Classically, there’s The Wizard of Oz. Who IS the wizard behind the curtain? Do we really want to know, or will the answer inevitably disappoint us? Think about when you read a book and picture the love interest in your mind’s eye, only to have the movie adaptation completely ruin your perfect vision. Letting people paint their own picture of you is a safety net in that sense—and when you take it away, you risk a long, hard plummet. 

Just like walking a tightrope, face reveals are hard, and one little slip up can easily lead to disaster. If you’ve been anonymous for a while, you’re going to have to help your audience recognize your face as a new part of your brand. That means you’re going to need a high-profile face reveal, like Dream’s, which got all of Twitter talking about him for an entire day.

Besides being expensive and time-consuming, such a prominent event is bound to draw some negative comments about your appearance. We saw this in full force for Dream’s face reveal. Luckily, he didn’t seem too bothered, even claiming that he laughs at some of the criticisms. It’s important to self-reflect if you could realistically be okay after millions of people criticize your appearance.


Freedom in Identity

This isn’t all to say face revealing doesn’t come with benefits attached. The biggest factor that pushed Dream to his reveal was that it’s simply hard to be anonymous and remain that way. Obsessive fans scrub through content to find clues leading back to their favorite creator’s identity. Maintaining a wall of anonymity can start to create anxiety for the anonymous. Dream, for instance, went to extreme lengths to avoid being recognized, rarely going outside and even visiting dentists out-of-state.

Content is also just easier to create with a face. It’s simple psychology: people like looking at people. After revealing his face, Dream gained 900k YouTube subscribers—the highest number he had seen since July 2021, when he started slowing down his Minecraft content. Without an identity, it will be harder for you to gain a following, score sponsorships, and meet your adoring fans. Plus, you’re limited in what content you can make. IRL content gets pretty boring when you can’t see who’s behind the camera.

Harnessing the Moment

So, say after weighing the pros and cons of the very personal decision to reveal your identity, you’ve decided to do a face reveal. Now what? 

You leverage it, hard. 

A face reveal is exciting, even for people who have never heard of you. Capture those extra eyeballs and turn them into loyal viewers. Dream is a perfect example of this. He carefully planned every aspect of his face reveal to get most out of his big moment.

He started out by planning to drop it (it, being his face) right before TwitchCon, a huge convention where Twitch streamers like Dream meet their fans. As an anonymous creator, he had never gotten to participate in these types of events, but now he finally could. Not stopping at good timing, he also hired a makeup artist for the video and had other famous creators like Bella Poarch post their reactions to a private face reveal. Though he hasn’t uploaded a new video since the reveal, his audience has grown across platforms. Only time will tell if his audience will follow him to new IRL content, but judging by the screaming fans that moved him to tears at TwitchCon, things are looking up for the streamer.

So when it comes to face reveals, Dream had it right, despite how Twitter reacted. 

Whether or not you do a  face reveal is a personal decision, but how you do it is a business one.