Sup YouNubers? So the biggest YouTube personality has been blowing up the mainstream media lately, and of course I have to weigh in.
For those who don’t know, PewDiePie, aka Felix Kjellberg (funny how your YouTube persona can overtake your real name, eh), is YouTube’s most subscribed creator with more than 53 million subs at the time of this post. He’s made headlines recently because of some anti-Semitic jokes he’s made in his videos. Many major media outlets covered this story, but Wall Street Journal seems to be the outlet who broke it and they even compiled a video of their findings, which you can watch here (I’ve attached the story from Polygon, who embedded the WSJ video on their article, because the WSJ article requires a login).
For the record, I’m very familiar with PewDiePie’s videos, though I’m not a subscriber and don’t consume his content regularly. PewDiePie started his YouTube career as a video game Let’s Play-style channel, and has since transitioned to a comedy/commentary type channel. And it seems that in his brand of comedy, there isn’t a whole lot (if anything) that is off limits.
Now what I really want to talk about is how this situation could relate to you as a creator. Sure, you’ll probably never reach the heights of a PewDiePie (one can dream though, right?), but this is an important lesson about how your online activity can impact you.
Do I think PewDiePie is a white supremacist, jew-hating, Nazi?
(but to be fair, there really is no way of me knowing for sure. All I have are his words, after all)
I don’t condone hate speech, but I also don’t think the things PewDiePie said are particularly harmful. He’s an entertainer, and his audience comes to him for his brand of entertainment–whether some people find him distasteful or unfunny is irrelevant: they are not his target audience.
And in terms of the video I shared above, I think it’s a good example of the level to which context matters. PewDiePie has made thousands of videos, and in some of them he’s said things that people might find distasteful–compiling various instances of these things removes the context in which they were said and this is a disservice to the creator. Sure, the fact that PewDiePie said these things doesn’t change, but it’s not like he uses his platform to regularly promote hate.
I’m sure many of us have joked about things that are in poor taste, the difference here is that PewDiePie shared those jokes with millions of people. Is he wrong to do so? That’s up to him and his audience. But it has certainly cost him, at least in the short-term.
For you, consider everything you say before sharing it online. How will my audience react to what I say? How will random people who see my video react? Is there anything in my video I wouldn’t want the world to see?
These are questions you need to ask yourself, because once your video is online, it’s there forever. Even if you take it down, there’s no guarantee someone hasn’t downloaded it or screencapped it already.
Be mindful of what you post YouNubers, even if it is just for the lulz. And let me know in the comments what you think of PewDiePie and how this situation has unfolded. His response to this situation has already received 12 million views: