Monday, 13 July 2015

PewDiePie Knows What’s Up

There’s been an inordinate amount of coverage in the past few days of PewDiePie, a YouTube celebrity gamer who is already annoying me solely because of all the red lines that are appearing across this article.

He’s Swedish. He’s young. He’s extremely successful at what he does.

He made $7.4 million last year. Some people are upset about that.

Understandably so. After all, who is this guy who makes millions by playing video games, by giving stupid reactions to stupid toys? Why can he make so much doing something so worthless? And where do I sign up?

Here’s the thing. PewDiePie makes a huge amount of money through his videos because people enjoy watching them. And because YouTube allows that monetisation to take place. There’s nothing cynical about those earnings. You know why?

Because he’s doing something that he loves. And we as a society value what he’s doing.

You could argue that society shouldn’t value his work. You could argue that he might be just in it for the money. But the reality is that there’s no way he would be so popular, and so successful, without having a real passion for his work.

It’s easy to dismiss those who become wealthy in unorthodox ways as being below our respect. That what they do lacks worth.

But one of the things we value most is entertainment. PewDiePie is providing entertainment for his audience, and selling ad space for YouTube while he does it. Whether or not you like his content, living in a free society means that you can’t control whose voices are worthy of money or respect.

I have no interest in watching PewDiePie’s videos. But his presence on the web is an encouraging reflection of the freedom people have these days, to make money doing the things that they love.

(No matter how stupid they might be.)

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