The web is full of opinions. The web is also full of inclusive communities where people can connect and create content.
One notable platform is YouTube and with it a plethora of videos readily available to view: vlogs, cooking channels, fails, news, and satirical sketches. Certain people are attracted to certain communities based on similar views and taste.
It’s important to note that not everyone likes the same things—some things are entertaining, some are not.
A few weeks ago, The Wall Street Journal published an article analyzing nine times Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie on YouTube, made “anti-semitic” comments.
The consequence of this analysis cost him his deal with Disney’s Maker Studios and the cancellation of his YouTube Red series’ second season. Kjellberg later posted responses on his Tumblr and on his channel, claiming that the Journal had taken his comments out of context.
In his Tumblr post, Kjellberg explains the reason behind making the jokes he did. He goes on to write that he did it for entertainment and to show how crazy the modern world could be, and that he did not support the hateful comments.
Similarly, on his YouTube channel he elaborated further, saying that he believed mainstream media has become afraid of online content creators and their strong influences over their audiences.
Kjellberg’s kicker was that legacy media only seemed to focus on the money he made and never about his charitable actions.
Online charity events like Project For Awesome, Desert Bus for Hope, and even Kjellberg’s own fundraiser for Charity: Water are seldom covered by the media, but it isn’t to say they’re always overlooked.
Nevertheless, that further fueled his statement that the media “blatantly misrepresent people for their own personal gain” by focusing on just the negatives in order to get views.
But what these rising tensions between content creators and legacy media show is the difficulty in achieving a balance between traditional journalistic influencers and prominent public figure influencers.
The rise of the internet has paved way for innovative and creative figures who garner success and popularity through strategic tactics such as satire and transparency. Their certain charisma might not translate to everyone who come across their videos, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter to the millions of supports online creators like Felix have.
In blasé terms, online creators relate more to the common citizen than old-school professionals because they are able to lay their opinions out in the open because it fits with the narrative they have built. They are the common man taking action against the big mainstream media machine. It’s the us verse them mentality.
According to this article, ultimately Disney and Google’s decision to cut ties with Felix were straight from the companies themselves. No, the WSJ didn’t back them into a corner. No, they don’t have a reason to really be threatened by Felix considering his content and their content aren’t similar whatsoever. It just happened to be the WSJ that lit the fuse.
Felix’ anger stems from viewing the media as aggressors—his attempt at saying that the media in general come for him negatively is an attempt at being perceived as the YouTube messiah coming to spill tea and unmask the charade of Big Brother for those who live fervent no-BS lives.
When they take a completely garbage BS shot at one of us, they take a shot at all of us. https://t.co/vwxcXY47v1
— Philip DeFranco (@PhillyD) February 17, 2017
The fact of the matter is that a YouTube creator making big money is newsworthy—that’s why the media mentions it. And another big part is that popular figures are seen as role models, and what they say—even if it wasn’t their intention—can leave impressions. Is it out of the creator’s control? Absolutely. People take what they want from content. Was it maybe not the smartest thing to joke about? Probably, although Felix himself already acknowledged that.
Bottom line: being a prominent figure is a double-edged sword. You can’t expect to be popular and not be covered for the good and the ugly things that you do or say. That being said, it isn’t so great when you’re a media company that solely focuses on covering the negatives of a person’s career whilst not comprehending the initial intention of the source material in the first place.