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When a Sword Becomes a Shield: In Defense of PewDiePie

With the trial of Pewdiepie having been all but concluded with Disney’s hammering of the gavel flat upon the Youtube personality’s partnership with the corporation, those looking to bring down the blonde-haired, blue-eyed icon of the new-age media seem to be revelling in Felix Kjellberg’s new-found and ill-fitting Nazi status, as well as the seemingly crippling financial blow the mainstream media has dealt to the politically impotent 27-year old ‘gamer’.

For all the laughable – and libellous – attempts to character-assassinate the Swedish oddball-turned-entrepreneur, I must confess: I hate the artist formerly known as Pewdiepie. For those who still believe sarcasm to be the lowest form of wit, your introduction to the Pewds’ and his retarded repertoire of screeching and click bait Youtube trend videos is yet to be found. Abandon hope for the future of comedy, ye who enter Kjellberg’s domain of dim-witted ‘try not to laugh’ videos, lets plays, and other horrendously banal videos that do more to produce a reaction unto my gag reflex than my cerebral cortex: I know when I’ve consumed shit.

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Pewdiepie is untalented. He’s been at the Youtube game for seven years now, having earned such high praise from contemporary ‘content creators’ – what an awfully nebulous, post-modern term, by the way – such as prominent vox-popper/pseudo-journalist/professional male Jaclyn Glenn look-a-like Phillip DeFranco, who lauded the Swedish sensation as an “amateur comedian” in a recent episode of the Phillip Defranco Show. Other gleaming reviews of Kjellberg’s craft can be gleaned from the likes of Sean McLoughlin, a.k.a Jacksepticeye – a Youtube personality seemingly developed under lab conditions in order to clone Pewdiepie – who in a video published on 18th February simply said that PewdiePie is “a good person” who made a “very amateur attempt” at comedy, even going so far as to separate his colleague from the likes of “professional comedians”, despite Kjellberg’s seven years of experience.

Pewdiepie clone #1488, otherwise known as Markiplier, had a bromide-stuffed, seven-and-a-half-minute-long video on his channel, wherein the Youtube star revealed some intimate and shocking truths about the nature of humanity, existence and the state of celebrity in the digital age. In the piece, the 27 year old – real name Mark Fishbach – enlightens the plebeian peanut gallery of viewers by affirming that “we are all equal”, despite the fact that reported that Fishbach’s net worth is $9 million, a feeble sum that is utterly dwarfed by his fellow amateur comic Kjellberg, who is sitting on an astronomical net worth of $20 million. Fishbach’s pseudo-intellectual, grandiose musings on the state and potential of humanity as a conceptual construct are difficult to watch, and his commentary is as fulfilling and intellectually stimulating as one of his videos, so unsuccessful is he in producing anything original and meaningful on the topic of Pewdiepie and this whole controversy.

Image Credit: Variety

So while Felix’s friend’s attempt to reenact the murder of Marvin scene from Pulp Fiction, complete with comical commentary and a hilarious attempt to wash the blood of their fallen comrade off their hands, Pewds himself is left with no one to defend him, and this would usually make me happy. Is Pewdiepie a shining example of the web 2.0’s cult of amateur worship, wherein only those with the will [to peddle banal content at a near super-human rate] and the drive [to be as uneducated and untalented as possible] can succeed and flourish? Yes, he is. This man has not studied his craft, nor does he care to. His whole shtick up until now has been nothing but a self-confessed deception. Speaking in a video he uploaded in January, PewDiePie addressed the subject of forced – an odd way of spelling falsified but whatever – positivity on Youtube.

In the vid, Felix talks openly about his and his contemporaries comfortability with lying and deceiving their audiences by pretending to enjoy their work, the fruits of their labour or in certain instances the subject matter they would cover in their videos. Kjellberg’s career has been built on deception, terrifying lack of talent and the hijacking of a sub-sect of culture that Pewds has single-handedly turned into a club without jackets. Because of his appropriation of gaming, the vultures have descended to feast upon the carrion corpse of video game culture, with ‘gamers’ being represented by shameless young women on Twitch, caterwauling man-children on Youtube and vindictive feminists, to say nothing of an apathetic gaming press that would rather be unemployed than be recognised as card-carrying game journalists.

Image Credit: FragHero

Kjellberg’s one-man crusade towards the lofty, lucrative peak of Youtube stardom has contributed to the deconstruction of traditional models of aspiration and integrity in gaming. The men, women and media surrounding video game culture have been chasing Pewd’s success for years, and what have we to show for it? IGN writers quitting their job to drink in the afternoon and expect their viewers to pay for it, video game ‘critics’ advocating for game piracy, and a guttural level of discourse that sees every other Youtube hack screaming, shouting or sometimes – just to mix it up a little – both, all in service of the arch overlords Subscribe and Like.

PewDiePie and his ilk have lowered the standard of gaming culture, and by extension, the medium as a potential art form. For this, I would have loved to see him fall from his Platinum-play button perch. I would have given anything to see a gaming renaissance take flight in my lifetime, and witness these untalented, culture-carving bacteria eviscerated from the very cells of gaming. The gaming Enlightenment could have been achieved, if only we accepted the axiomatic principle that underpins Kjellberg’s works: he has no skills whatsoever.

Image Credit: Polygon

But apparently, being an untalented idiot simply isn’t enough to get you fired these days, and our culture is so used to celebrating the banal and the boring (how many times did you take a picture of your food today?) that calling someone out on their vacuity poses the single greatest existential threat to our societal sanity: so instead the media made Felix Kjellberg into a member of the long-defunct National Socialist Party of German circa 1920-1945.

A college drop out, producing content for 13-16 year olds, with no political motivations whatsoever, has been labelled a Nazi by the mainstream media, with The Wall Street Journal leading the charge of the shite brigade against the Pewds in a [s]hit piece titled ‘Disney Severs Ties With YouTube Star PewDiePie After Anti-Semitic Posts’, which saw the collective efforts of three whole journalists – Rolfe Winkler, Ben Fritz and Jack Nicas – amount to a deluge of fake news: sentence after sentence of nonsense and slander. Once the three blind mice opened the floodgate, however, it wasn’t long before the entire internet was soiled in a shower, albeit golden, of libellous articles seeking to brand an a-political, amateur comic as a ruthless neo-nazi with an agenda consisting of anti-Semitism and Hitler worship.

Image Credit: YouTube

In this day and age, the ‘if you don’t like it, don’t watch it’ clause simply isn’t enough. Don’t like Facebook? That won’t stop it informing the news and culture. Don’t use Twitter? Well, the mainstream media is still going to report on everything every celebrity ever tweets about ad nauseum. Don’t like PewDiePie? That isn’t going to stop him becoming a centrepiece upon the chessboard that is the culture war; and just because you aren’t interested in politics, that doesn’t mean politics isn’t interested in you.

By dragging this Youtube buffoon into the political arena, the media has forced people like myself, as well as other members of the commentariat, to take a stand… with the buffoon! I don’t want for Felix Kjellberg’s success. I don’t want him to become an aspirational totem for the next generation. I want him gone.

But not like this.

Felix Kjellberg did nothing wrong. I don’t care how distasteful you find the joke. I don’t care how offended you were by the content of his videos. I don’t even care how triggered you got. A simple consideration needs to be made at this point, and has been made for hundreds of years in analogous circumstances: was there malice aforethought in Kjellberg’s actions? Just as with English common law, a very simple test is applied to criminal actions such as murder in order to determine whether or not the act was murder or manslaughter. Malice aforethought is now commonly referred to as intent, a key component of the men’s rea that determines whether the killing of an individual is/was intentional.

Image Credit: We The Unicorns

Applied to Felix’s case, it is abundantly clear that he did not possess the malice aforethought required to charge him of the acts of anti-Semitism or promoting pro-fascist and pro-Nazi ideology. There is no instance of advocacy in his videos, nor is there a call to any advocacy of any kind. In fact, the opposite is true, with PewDiePie explicitly stating in his videos – before and after this journalistic rendition of ‘the aristocrats’ joke – that he does not condone any hate group or ideology of any kind.

The idea that PewDiePie ‘advocates’ and ‘promotes’ Nazism and anti-Semitism simply because he uses images of Hitler and has watched a speech given by Hitler is laughable to the nth degree too. If this were the logical standard by which we deemed advocacy for Nazi ideology to have occurred, then anyone who ever watched the History Channel is a nazi, anyone who ever studied World War 2 is a nazi, and Sarah Silverman is most definitely a nazi.

Image Credit: GearNuke

But, of course, none of this is true: and everyone knows it. Everyone knows that Felix Kjellberg is not a nazi. We all know that he is just a dumb, innocent, talentless face on a screen (over 50 million screens, actually), quietly reassuring us that mediocrity is okay. In fact, it’s better than okay: being devoid of any marketable skill while reducing your mental age to that of a 13-year-old in the pursuit of financial gain is a perfectly acceptable way to live. The human project has never looked so hard, only to find so little. PewDiePie is the image we see in the mirror of culture, and we have to live with that.

We can’t attack him for being shallow and silly and absurd because then we’d all acknowledge a greater truth about ourselves and the culture we have erected, and that cannot happen. So, the mirror image must become a mockery. The portrait must become a parasite. The man must become a monster. Only then can our lesser, debase selves be successfully projected unto Felix in order to attack him. The mainstream media is simply jealous of PewDiePie, and they have finally found a way to affix their vices onto the spear, wielding them as virtues. It is simply more comfortable for the media to label Felix a nazi than face this truth.

PewDiePie was bad enough before you all made him the Devil. The truth is he is just a man. A man like you and me… albeit with an endearing zeal and guile, and a wicked sense of humour.

From J-pop to Nintendo, Adam’s daily battle with his inner otaku is one he enjoys losing. Since playing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in 1998, he’s been a gamer ever since. Currently studying English at university, Adam has the silly ambition of one day becoming a paid writer – a guy can dream, right?


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