For those of you who don’t have your pulse on the drama of youtube personalities (and really, what decent person does?), there has recently been a scandal involving perhaps the most prominent Youtuber ever, PewDiePie. With over 3K videos and over 50 Million subscribers, it’s impossible to deny that PewDiePie is a powerful cultural force. Of late, the wall street journal, an otherwise reputable newspaper, reported that PewDiePie had ties to nazism. For most people, accusing someone of being a Nazi or Nazi sympathizer is an extremely serious accusation. However, for the mainstream media, it seems like this is just another day.
Around the vlogosphere, youtubers and commentators alike have been launching videos and blogs almost unanimously in support of PewDiePie. The basics of the situation are, PewDiePie makes regular jokes about the Nazis and Hitler in his videos. Are these jokes in good taste? That’s up to the listener. Are they neo-nazi propaganda? Fucking no. Jesus. Fucking no. For decades, Hitler has been the edgelord off-limits joke subject that many comedians fall back on for the guaranteed shock value. However, based on some particularly racy videos released by PewDiePie and also based on his endorsements and YoutubeRed series (both of which he has lost in the wake of this scandal), PewDiePie apparently need edit his jokes otherwise it is apparently fair to decry him as a Nazi.
I don’t want to get into a whole rant about this because to be honest, I don’t know a ton about the heart of the issue. I am not intimately knowledgable about what happened. From what I understand, some dude who jokes about Nazis sometimes was targeted and called out as a Nazi, which he clearly isn’t. My stake in this issue is that issues like this are unbelievably deleterious to the credibility of the MSM. When we watch news outlets continue to point the finger at people and call them racist, nazis, sexist, etc., especially when that person has literally almost as many subscribers as President Trump had voters, people are going to realize they are full of shit. Buzzwords and click bait titles involving racism or Nazism are surefire short-term ways to gain clicks or views, but in the end I can’t help but think this is incredibly damaging to mainstream journalism. Writers for the numerous outlets (not just WSJ) who picked up this story and ran with it should honestly be ashamed of themselves. It would take an unbelievably short amount of time to do the investigative journalism required to clearly debunk the claim the PewDiePie is a Nazi sympathizer. The fact that the story has gained any traction is a damning look at the mainstream media and journalistic standards.
Indeed, it is stories just like this one which drive more and more people away from cable news or establishment journalism and more towards alternative media and more uncensored, unfiltered sources for their political news. Naturally I encourage my readership to diversify the types of alternative media they consume. However, it seems with this latest scandal and countless other “fake news” stories circulated by outlets of both/all political slants, it becomes truly difficult to continue to trust anything reported by the MSM without independent verifications.
I have long railed against the entertainment news paradigm, and with this latest election and what I believe to be America and the world’s departure from the values of truth and data, it becomes almost necessary to expand one’s reading and watching to get the whole picture. Unfortunately, for most people, it isn’t plausible to gain this broad insight. In the wake of PewDiePie-Gate, are we seeing a shift in the overall attitude toward the MSM? What would happen if this smear campaign had been orchestrated against someone with a smaller viewership, who didn’t have the voice to speak out? These types of accusations are serious and can ruin lives. Will this scandal be doomed to echo around the halls of the broader youtube viewership, or is that viewership a large enough percentage of the population that this leaks into our collective psyche?