If you’ve read any of my posts or articles before you will know that I have a long running attachment and interest in YouTube and everything that comes with it.It can be a place of greatness and deplorability. However, come out of the YouTube community, and enter the mainstream media’s realm and the balance is a little different. Between 2007 and 2009 when I first started to really enjoy YouTube and respect the creators on it, there was a large sense of doubt and condescension.
Now that YouTube has succeeded in popularity, various things have changed, dramas have ensued, and that ‘doubt’ has to some extent subsided. What hasn’t disappeared is the condescension. As is the same for many creative industries, the profession (and it is a profession) is continually disregarded and invalidated. The mainstream media have and still do make it seem as if the creators literally sit there with no thought toward what they do. Maybe in some corners of the platform that is true. But for the majority, it is a full time job, with consequences and responsibilities and a level of creativity that could rival that of many of the lies told by mainstream media. Creativity used for positivity.
What the situation surrounding PewDiePie now presents is a wild rush of desperation and exploitation of a sensitive topic by the media. PewDiePie is the most popular YouTuber and has long been the go to man when it comes to explaining what YouTube is. So when any drama relating to him comes up, it is no surprise that the media should exploit the occasion to once again attempt to undermine the platform.
So firstly let me provide a very brief amount of context to the current situation. There is a site called Fiver that supplies a variety of different rewards and gifts for a fiver. Except it’s a little different because it varies from Jesus wishing your friend a happy birthday, to some guys dancing in a ‘jungle’. The videos that have started the current uproar were testing how far PewDiePie could go with his requests. The majority of the requests were granted and before long it came to the current catalyst of all the drama.
He requested that the two gentlemen dancing in the jungle, would hold up a sign saying “Death To All Jews”. Something you would expect would be cut off straight away and denied and that would be the end of it. Not quite. The request was granted and the video was created, and after the anger first began the gentleman sited a difficulty in language as to the reason they ‘didn’t understand’. Whether that’s an outright lie or the truth is, for the moment, irrelevant. Yet what was a joke to test just how ridiculous this site could be became a reason for the media to latch on and create another war on YouTube and on PewDiePie specifically. So they looked back on his previous videos and picked out any possible allusion to Jewish jokes, even to some extent manipulating videos into essentially what is complete fabrication. Then with enough evidence they began their tirade, by labelling him an Anti-Semite leading to various consequences for PewDiePie.
Let me quickly interject and say that, yes, sometimes the humour was risky, and maybe even a little questionable, but never, I believe, racist. The key thing about risky humour is the intention. PewDiePie has stated in his response that he understands that it may have been “too far” and that he is sorry for that but that none of it was his intention. This humour, I would also like to add, is a humour that he has presented for many years, and has established part of his channel. His humour is controversial, and always has been. It is a particular style, and whether he went too far now or not, it has to be looked into that the media have decided now is the time to strike.
As PewDiePie mentions in his ‘My Response’ video, his jokes whether intentional or not, were being labelled as encouraging hate groups. This is a debate about humour that has gone on for many years, and one that I also find myself heavily conflicted on. So I won’t now venture to try and state a position completely and wholly, because I will only contradict myself later if I do. But one of the moments in the video I found most significant and important to remember was one of his final statements:
“personally, I think they are the ones normalising hatred because there is actual hatred out there […] there’s actual issues out there, instead of celebrating that my show got cancelled, why aren’t we focusing on that?”
This, I believe, is a very good point. What it does also uncover is much of the medias need to distract from other issues in the world, by pointing fingers at the wrong people. At a time when racism is rife, and funnily enough, the media is caught up in a lot of it, it is no surprise that they are finding any chance to turn the attention away.
This situation was risky from the start, I agree, but it was to show just how far the people on Fiver would go. There was humour, it was controversial, but that is an entire generally respected sub-section of comedy in itself. It is only because he is an internet star, and a representative for the younger community that the attention is focused on him. Again I am not trying to position myself within the debate of this humour, because I wouldn’t truly know where to start.
In this case, however, it is quite clear where the real encouragement and malice is coming from, and it is not from PewDiePie.
p.s. sorry this is such a strongly opinionated piece as opposed to much of my other stuff, but it is just another case in a long string of attacks on the younger generation, and those working in digital and creative professions.