Monday, February 20, 2017

Pewdiepie did nothing wrong

YouTube user Pewdiepie is the single most popular content provider on YouTube. Having had his videos monetized, he has made millions of dollars per year for making videos. His subscriber count is over 50 million. For comparison, the Wall Street Journal's YouTube channel has almost 500,000 subscribers. He is so influential on the site that the owners of YouTube actually listen to his opinion, and he is aware of this. He will actually speak up for less popular and influential users when the issues don't directly relate to him but he feels it is important for the site as a whole.

Most of his videos are lighthearted, made simply for general entertainment value. Recently, upon finding a vendor who offers to make a video of themselves holding up a sign with any message, he decided to see if they were sincere. He commissioned them to hold a sign with an anti-Semitic message. He did not do this because of personal beliefs in anti-Semitism, but because he wanted to see if they would actually do it. Upon being called out on anti-Semitism, he went further. He stated that his accusers would take clips of his videos out of context, and inserted a clip of him watching a speech by Adolph Hitler, to dare them to take the clip out of context.

The Wall Street Journal rose to the occasion. Someone at the Wall Street Journal decided to accuse Pewdiepie of being an anti-Semite based on these out of context clips. These people at the Journal also pressured both YouTube and Disney to stop doing business with him, costing him a large amount of revenue. His YouTube channel still exists, but videos have been demonetized.

Rather laughably, when people started reacting to the smear campaign by the Wall Street Journal, they offered to give him a platform from which he could respond to allegations by the Journal, even though they had already cost him revenue. His subscriber count is more than one hundred times theirs, and they offered to give him a platform.

The print media is losing importance. One person with a YouTube channel, without any bosses to tell him what videos to make, may have more influence than the entire Wall Street Journal. Not in all areas or in all ways, but at least in some areas this one person is more influential. When the media lashed out at him, he was able to respond, able to get his version of event out. This goes beyond the old model of the internet keeping alive a story that the media wants to bury, this goes to a direct challenge against a media narrative. This is a direct challenge by someone who isn't even a politician, such as when Donald Trump bypasses the media and speaks directly to the public through Twitter. This one person who has gotten wealthy by making YouTube videos, has sufficient influence to counter the chosen media narrative directly.

This fight that the Wall Street Journal picked with Pewdiepie is the old media lashing out at the new media, in a manner akin to an injured animal thrashing wildly. And the way they chose to do it is so pitiful, because unlike in the earlier era of media dominance, anyone can see the source videos under discussion. They are still on YouTube. Anyone even mildly curious, even if their curiosity is "I want to see what that bigot said so I can hate him too" can go see the videos and see they are not what the Journal said they are.

This actually serves as a well deserved humiliation of the mainstream media. Between the election of Donald Trump, the vote for Brexit in the United Kingdom, and the possible election of Marine Le Pen in France, the media is already losing control of the narrative. Choosing to fight with someone who is actually harmless, and losing because he is more influential in some areas, and more influential in the long run, is actually pitiful. To do so after the media recently embarrassed itself by having a discussion about fake news is humiliating. Pewdiepie did nothing wrong.


Rose said...

You're skating a little close to plagiarizing Sargon in places.

Also, the WSJ offering him a platform to *defend* himself is like asking him, "have you stopped beating your wife yet?"

Ayn R. Key said...

Only the bit about the wounded animal. The rest of it is pretty objective fact that you can get from Pewdiepie himself.