PewDiePie is a phenomenon. A tale of success from the Sir Tim Berners-Lee archetype of an internet where free information exchange enshrined in its usage. Rising from obscurity as an online games vlogger, PewDiePie’s brand of comedic commentary won him a hard-earned nation of followers (53 million users worldwide is more than enough to fill a country, it is an even larger population than Australia or Canada).
PewDiePie (real name: Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg) founded his YouTube channel in 2010. He is now the biggest creator on the video streaming platform and has earned an estimated $155 million from his video producing venture.
Recently, however, the sheen of his glittering success story is tarnished with rumours of anti-Semitic content. PewDiePie’s so-called bigotry is little more than a targeted and insidious campaign by the mainstream media to topple a paragon of “New Money.”
Those of us over 30 will remember Napster. The music Peer-2-Peer site was launched in 1999 and fell afoul of the leading record labels, liquidating in 2001. Its demise was a cautionary tale for any business or person brave enough to take on the big guns of the entertainment industries, a string of lawsuits caused Napster to collapse and resurrect as a ghost of its former self.
At the same time, Napster’s birth, struggle, death and rebirth became a stark warning for the major players of music, a reminder of who it is they provide goods and services to, in addition to paying scant attention to technological developments.
A lesson they have difficulty in learning and are seemingly doomed to repeat. The music labels have never fully recovered from the blow that Napster delivered, and now TV and film are falling victim to the same disease that pock marks music.
Video-on-Demand has existed for years in pornography (just as Polaroid inspired adult entertainment and VHS beat Betamax the same way) and now has blossomed into the mainstream and popular culture. YouTube launched in 2005, offering users the opportunity to “Broadcast Yourself.”
Through revenue streams like Google AdSense, donations from Patreon and signing up to management companies, content creators on YouTube can have a lucrative career and more importantly, are beholden to no one in generating their often intimidating earning power.
As usual, big corporations are dinosaurs, and behind the curve, Netflix and Amazon Prime are drowning out Hollywood’s incessant remake and comic obsessed studios. YouTubers are at the forefront of this changing of the guard and it is inevitable that the old guard will rage against the dying of their light – despite major directors like Stephen Spielberg and George Lucas conceding that Hollywood is in its twilight years. So it is necessary for a cabal of the dinosaurs to attempt to bat the meteor that will obliterate them off course.
When The Wall Street Journal published their claims into PewDiePie’s supposed anti-Semitism, it caused Disney to drop their connection with the vlogger (perhaps aiming to alleviate the guilt associated with Walt Disney’s alleged anti-Semitism?).
Also, the smear campaign against him hoped to get YouTube to turn against their biggest creator, which is easy enough for the site’s owner – Google – to do, as YouTube projected $13 billion of income is a fraction of Google’s annual $86 annual annual turnover.
Their report lacked the nuance that research seemingly required by journalists strives for, overlooking that the fact PewDiePie’s video of getting Fiverr to produce a video of someone creating a sign “Kill All Jews” (basically saying that pay people to write/say anything and they will). The Wall Street Journal did in fact, write anything, except the truth of PewDiePie’s experiment.
At the same time, the old school established media decided to set up a scapegoat by using a new media superstar they are envious of. In the Fake News and Post-Truth Era, PewDiePie’s work eschews the bulk of this and remains more popular and more trustworthy than their efforts.
Their desperation to stay relevant is like a vampire leeching off the blood of a virgin, or old money public schoolboys “fagging” (hazing) the working class prodigy in the school via a scholarship. This kind of bullying will always be enacted upon those audacious enough to establish themselves outside the correct sphere of power.
Bullies always respond to strength and they never learn their lesson in their mission to undermine others, they are only independents stronger and the backlash has just begun. PewDiePie will weather this storm, but the established, corporate shill media has allowed their vessel to become brittle wood that is snapping under the tempest of greater scrutiny.