The YouTube community has spun itself into a frenzy over recent allegations of favouritism and double standards that have been levelled at the platform. These accusations have come to a head after the recent release of Logan Paul’s movie sequel The Thinning: New world order last month, which has left many YouTube viewers and content creators feeling burned by the platform. To get a bit of context of why users are feeling their voices on the platform have been diminished, here is a look at the Suicide forrest incident:
years eve 2017, then 22 year old Logan Paul uploaded a blog to the platform depicting a recently deceased man who had committed suicide in the Japanese forrest called Aokigahara which sits at the base of Mount Fuji. This location is known as the Suicide forrest amongst locals and internationally for its incredibly high suicide rates. This video received over 6 Million views in 1 day span that it was up. Paul was accused of being insensitive to the people of the community as well as the victim. Paul, using the body in the thumbnail for views happily paraded the tragedy around for views. A slap in the face and insult to the people of Japan but especially that man’s family who then saw their loved one exploited by one of YouTube’s most popular stars.
The day after, Paul removed his video and issued an apology. Many users found it to be lacking and self centred and many criticised Paul for having missed the point. Celebrities worldwide took action against the star, rebuking him and his actions. On the second day of the controversy, January 2, Paul issued another apology – this time in video format – to his YouTube channel, lamenting on the mistake and his lapse in judgement which he did not expect to be forgiven for. Paul leveraged this mistake by associating himself and his brand with suicide prevention helplines and Institutes. Too little too late many thoughts as they saw how dramatically YouTube, the community and even mainstream media turned against Logan Paul. Long time users of the platform knew that this was not even close to the first offensive thing that the man had done and highly doubted it would be the last. Seeing his YouTube preferred creators as well as YouTube red Partnership amongst other benefits being stripped away from him, the majority of YouTube content creators and viewers thought that it would be the end of Logan Paul. Many petitioned for the removal of his channel from the platform and begged YouTube to take further action. While neither of these things came to be, many still hoped that he would fade into irrelevance for the sake of their own image on the platform and the need to disassociate from the damage he’d done.
However the same year saw a major turnaround for Logan Paul’s popularity. Midway through the year, he and another major YouTube star KSI agreed to an amateur boxing match. YouTube swung in a way critics were not expecting, instead of staying strong to their disassociation from Logan, they advertised the boxing match as much as possible on their platform. And even hosted the stream for the event allowing Paul to use YouTube’s pay-per-view system. The immense back peddling was astounding, and left many content creators and viewers offended by YouTube’s blasé attitude towards the Paul brother as YouTube seemingly brushed passed what would have been a career ending mistake for many other online celebrities.
Just 2 months later, YouTube surprised audiences yet again by releasing the Logan Paul YouTube Red movie, The Thinning: a new world order. The a sequel to 2016’s The Thinning. The subsequent film was reportedly scrapped from the books following the incident at the beginning of 2018 and fans felt a sense of justice knowing that some retribution came from Logan’s disturbing actions. Users and creators alike stood disappointed to find that the golden boy of YouTube did not have to concede to the rules and regulations that YouTube so generously piled onto everyone else. Many smaller creators have lost their channels over much less and there was outrage over the double standard. Many YouTubers pointed to the treatment of number 1 most subscribed content creator on the platform, PewDiePie.
PewDiePie (Felix Kjellberg) faced controversy himself in 2017, and he kicked off the start of what was to be known as YouTube’s ad-pocolypse wherein advertisers aggressively pulled their products from the advertising spots platform wide. After a handful of context based anti-semitic and racist jokes that the Wall Street Journal so kindly took out of context went mainstream, the YouTube star had to own up to the fact that it is your responsibility if a joke doesn’t carry through to all that hear it. As the MSM used their prime news hours to report the racist-anti-semite infecting the brains of our innocent american children, the public who had little clue of who the man was or his comedy stylings went ballistic in their own smear campaign against the man, petitioning advertisers to pull advertising from his channel or face a boycott. As YouTube scrambled to appease the fleeing advertisers, they swiftly disciplined a rather understanding PewDiePie in the best way they knew how. Similarly to their reaction to Logan Paul, YouTube pulled PewDiePie’s ‘Scare PewDiePie’ YouTube Preferred series along with other partnerships. But now that YouTube has dropped Logan Paul’s new movie, many of Felix’s’ fans and Felix himself are asking the question ‘where is Scare PewDiePie season 2?’ which was initially set to follow the first season following it’s incredible success before being cut by the Platform.
No one could understand why Felix was still being left in the dirt while Logan was able to sidestep his controversy and continue his career while ignoring his very realistic skeleton in his closet. Felix sees well over 200k views every month, making him an incredibly valuable asset as he pulls and audience of almost 70 million subscribers to the platform. Logan Paul on the other hand has less than a third of Felix’s subscribers and his view count being on a quarter of the size. Surely it would make sense to utilise the views machine that is PewDiePie, as his content has become much more family friendly and is now at a similar level to Logan’s. So what is the real reason?
The online embodiment of hypochondria that is vox.com used the tagline ‘Were PewDiePie’s months of Nazi imagery “satire” or a blueprint for mainstreaming the alt-right?’ when describing the controversy last year, hit the nail on the head, highlighting a key issue that many believe is the real reason that PewDiePie is being shovelled into the corner while the less successful Logan Paul is shoved front and center. Many fans have suggested that PewDiePie’s (politically) right leaning audience might be what is stopping him from his continued success. PewDiePie has not specifically aligned himself with political parties and has generally avoided commenting on the political climate of America. And the general evasion of the regular Trump and republican bashing that is so common place on YouTube, as well as the not PC language and jokes that Felix makes has created a space for conservative and right wing aligned viewers to feel comfortable. And it is this more centralist (or in other words, not strictly left leaning) point of view that has had organisations like the New York Time embarrassing themselves by describing Felix as ‘YouTube’s monster’ due to his fanbase. YouTube is infamous for political bias, promoting beyond reason anti-right videos and drowning out and often silencing conservative content creators with nothing to back up their actions. Often flagging conservative creators for things that they will allow non-conservatives to get away with. While YouTube originally pitched itself to it’s audience as a platform for freedom of speech, it since turned into ‘free speech… as long as we also agree with it’.
But that’s enough wild conspiracy theories for today. All I’m here to ask is: Where is scare PewDiePie season 2????