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I had a quiet New Year’s Eve with my wife, her brother, and his fiancee’ and for some reason or another, I decided to check Twitter. Apparently, in Sweden, it’s typical to celebrate the New Year by posting YouTube videos because lo and behold, there was a new video by PewDiePie, entitled: “I’m Sorry.” I made a mental note to watch it the next day.
The truth is that after “Adults React…”, two podcasts, and innumerable Formspring questions about it, I’d noticed a couple people had wanted us to move on from the PewDiePie business and I felt I’d said enough, so that was that for the time being. However, in light of the “I’m Sorry” video, a few fans have asked for a response.
Betus and I did draft a couple of videos, going so far as to use Policenauts footage to express our response, but nothing hilarious came out of it, so we shrugged it off. Thinking about it more, I realized the stuff I wanted to say was just too wooden to warrant any sort of good comedic rebuttal.
So here, in a blog post, is why “I’m Sorry” just further proved our points.
1. Is PDP in it for the money?
I’d honestly say that, yes, I think more than a few of his videos are profit-driven. Far be it for me to assume what a person likes to do with their spare time and if they get paid for it, all the better. I just feel like there’s a point after your fiftieth Happy Wheels video when you start to think “maybe the content’s getting a bit stale, I should switch things up” even if your fans clamor for it.
But the whole “apology” (which isn’t one) refers to a comment PewDiePie made on our Adults React video:
"Pretty funny I’ll admit :)
But seriously, have you never heard: “If you don’t like it, then don’t watch it”?
Actually never mind, keep watching! Your extra views gets me extra cash!
- Pewdiepie’s comment on Adults React
It’s a fairly childish response, and his usual sort of “I wanna be friends with everybody!” type of thing where he wants to dis us, but be nice about it. Idiotically, he references the fact that I gave him some ad revenue to compile his footage (yeah, I think I can live with the 37 cents I donated to him) and his fans took it to mean: “I only make videos for money.”
His quip was most certainly a shot at us (really me, I don’t think Betus could bring himself to watch one), but his fans seized on it, and this video is meant to clear the air. So, a contradiction:
PewDiePie is trying to make a sincere dialogue with his fans in “I’m Sorry” to tell them he is not doing this for money.
THEN HE RAN ADS ON THE APOLOGY VIDEO.
To be clear, you absolutely can unclaim a single video, thereby removing ads from just one video. I have a Google partnership on my slowbeef YouTube account and a Fullscreen partnership on our Retsupurae account. In both cases, you can absolutely individually claim or unclaim videos.
The “I’m Sorry” video is the Internet equivalent of telling someone, “Listen I think there was a misunderstanding I’d like to clear up, but I need six cents before you can hear it.”
At its best, I can only say that because PDP uploads soooooo many videos (and please try and tell me he watches them all pre-upload and rejects stuff he didn’t think came out well), that he simply forgot. Still, I’d think if you had a serious message for people who liked and looked up to you, you wouldn’t, you know, charge them money or show them a commercial before telling them. Or at least you’d upload it with more careful settings than you do with “Walking Dead Episode 45”
2. Was the apology necessary?
PDP doesn’t think so. He starts the video (after his grating ‘my name is PewDiePie!’ intro) saying that his true fans probably already knew what he meant, and that his fans really know that this apology isn’t necessary.
…So why do it?
Did you ever have someone wrong you, and they say, “Look I don’t think I need to apologize, but sorry anyway.” Doesn’t that cheapen it?
The whole point of a mea culpa is that you’re admitting wrongdoing. You acknowledge you make a mistake, intentionally or not, and maybe you state why you did it, amends you’d make if necessary, etc. Prefacing it with “this apology is not necessary” invalidates the apology. It’s skipping the “acknowledging a mistake” part.
But it doesn’t matter because if you listen to the rest of the video, there’s no real apology anyway.
This video is just a plea to please, please believe him. He loves what he does and if he makes money, great! But he could take or leave the money, really! Which leads me to my next point:
3. Does PDP really love what he’s doing?
I think on some level. If you paid someone a lot of money to play video games and act like a fool, that’s not too bad a deal, right?
But I also think if you love what you do, you try to take some pride in it. You don’t say, “My audience responded well to me screaming over Amnesia so let me squeeze as much blood out of horror games as I can.” I think if you really enjoy making videos, you say “I know they like me cursing over Happy Wheels, but maybe after a few times, enough is enough, and I should try something new.”
More generally, I don’t think he really knows what it means to love what you do. He’s not a phenom at humor, editing, and gameplay so that he can upload 3 videos a day and call it all a best effort. He knows at some point, his audience will just eat any shit he gives them, and if a video came out boring, or repeated a lot of jokes from previous ones, so be it! We’ll call it a running gag, that’s the ticket! Or maybe he doesn’t know what’s entertaining in the first place, and he just throws everything up in the hopes it all works.
Well, according to previous fans of his, he’s a lot different since his popularity and fortune. His old Call of Duty videos were more subdued, apparently, and now it really is pandering with fake screams and dick/pussy jokes even when there’s nothing remotely like genitals present.
4. Offensive jokes?
Probably the height of idiocy was his mention of this in the “I’m Sorry” video.
PewDiePie, can I speak to you directly? You solved this problem already. We pointed out that it was creepy and unfunny to wholesale replace references to sex with rape. You sort of flailed about for a bit calling them offensive jokes, before conceding, fine, maybe the rape “jokes” were a little much, and you should stop.
There’s no comeback for that. I said you were doing a shitty thing, you said you’d stop doing it, and that was that. PR problem averted!
Bringing it back up as “offensive jokes” really just shows you had no idea what the problem was in the first place. General Ironicus explained this very well once, but since it didn’t sink in, I’ll explain it to you again.
These weren’t jokes. If you want an example of a rape joke, George Carlin, Louis CK, and Ricky Gervais all have them. But they’re jokes. They have a premise, a setup, and a punchline. Punishing a barrel for scaring you by having a dead pig rape it? What’s the joke? A monkey jumps on you in Silent Hill and it’s raping you? Why? How? Who’s the target of the joke? Is there one?
You’re lucky I didn’t stumble over your Heavy Rain videos until after the “Adults React” video, in which the female protagonist believes she is actually in danger of sexual assault. Your comments? “You’re gonna get it in the pooper.” “It’s rapin’ time!” “Now we’re talking.” (That last one was said when the assailants pushed her on a bed.)
See, it’s not a joke.
I don’t mean that in terms of “you can never joke about a heavy subject.” I just mean, it isn’t one.
You’re basically acting like a little kid, hoping to see sex - any sex - on the game screen (or at least as much as YouTube will let you show) and replacing the word “sex” for “rape” because rape seems more vulgar and less commonplace than “fucking”. You’re not realizing what the word actually means.
Look, I know you probably aren’t reading this, and even if you did, you’re not going to get it. So I’ll leave it at this - all you had to do was leave it at “no more rape jokes” like you did earlier. It was dumb to bring it back up and had no place in your “apology” video.
Anyway, back to everyone else.
5. Doesn’t his charity work prove he’s a nice guy?
The whole point behind philanthropy is that you do it out of the goodness of your heart, or to help a cause you believe in, etc. etc. When I’d first heard PDP donated 10k to the World Wildlife Federation, I had to concede: It seemed a very decent thing.
But when you’re doing damage control (masked as an apology), you can’t “cash in” your charity points. It cheapens the whole thing. Giving ten grand away doesn’t make you a nice person automatically, it makes you a person with a lot of money.
Doing it for the right reasons - which I’m not saying he didn’t - is fine. It just sucks to use it as leverage to prove, “Hey, I’m really an okay guy.”
Put another way, The Oatmeal made an offensive joke about women once. The author apologized and donated $1000 to NOW to prove the sincerity of his apology. Imagine it reversed: Imagine if the author had donated to NOW, later made the joke, and said “I’m sorry about the offensive joke, but I obviously don’t hate women: I gave money to charity!” It’s cheap. Charity can’t buy you things after the fact. If that’s how society worked, I could pay off a ton of groups and make every offensive joke I wanted. Except I wouldn’t because normal people don’t want that sort of thing.
In short, yes, it was very good of him to give money to charity. No, it was not a good thing to use the act of charity to try and get him some sort of gain.
6. Well, doesn’t the charity at least prove he’s not in it for the money?
Nope. He still has a steady revenue stream. The 10k for WWF came from winning a prize for King of the Web - it’s not part of his usual profits. I don’t know how it works in Sweden, but here in America, the donation is not only great PR for your fans, but it also lets you avoid the taxes on a lump sum of winnings. (And you get the tax break later from the donation.)
I’m not saying that’s why he did it. I’m saying doing it doesn’t prove anything, and I think his body of work goes more to show how profit-driven he is, and giving a fraction of his money to charity doesn’t negate that.
7. If you don’t like PewDiePie’s videos, can’t you just not watch them?
This is far and away the biggest response from idiots (including guess who). It’s so stupid, I don’t even want to dignify it. But it’s frequent, so here’s the rebuttal.
If you don’t like PewDiePie, don’t watch it?
Well, if you don’t like “Adults React,” don’t watch it!
See? It works both ways! Don’t like this response? Stop reading it! Hate it when I say PewDiePie isn’t creative or funny? Go somewhere else.
8. What could he have done differently?
This one’s easy. There’s a cartoon mocking him called “PleaseDiePie” to which PewDiePie again digs himself a hole by responding that he has nothing but respect for animators… but wasn’t this video pointless?
Well, no. In fact, it has a few very clear points.
But PDP’s response has the same problem that his “extra cash” response to our video does: PewDiePie doesn’t know what he wants to do. He tells us our video is funny, but tries for a burn as well. It’s basically cowardice - he’s too afraid to go with an out-and-out insult, but too proud to leave just a compliment. There were two ways to better handle Adults React.
a. “Pretty funny I’ll admit :)” And leave it there. He’d have scored a point. He’d have proven he can laugh at himself and parody videos really don’t bother him. There’s not much I could ever have come back with.
b. “Thanks for the ad revenue watching all my videos to compile that, slowbeef :)” I mean, he’d still look like a douchebag, but at least he be a consistent douchebag. It’s a stupid burn, but frankly, way better than one that I think he could really come up with.
My point is either let it roll of your back and if you want to be nice, turn the other cheek and compliment your attacker. You keep your nice guy persona and you can let your fans do all the hateful shit. Or go on the attack yourself. You can’t do both, or you just come across like an insincere shithead. A Jay Leno, if you will.
9. Is there a summary of all this I can read?
Yes, right here.
The “I’m sorry” video was totally unnecessary. He doesn’t really apologize, and it’s really more to control the damage done by his poorly-worded (nice?) comeback to us. Really, all it did was relight a fire that was already well on its way out. At the very least, it got me to watch one more PewDiePie video. And for that, I’m sorry.