I saw several references to PewDiePie on Facebook, recently, and also in the gossip area of my Yahoo page. Whether the name belonged to a person or a dessert, I didn’t know and didn’t much care. But the buzz grew until it piqued my curiosity. For my readers, many of whom are over the age of 65, I have discovered PewDiePie is a YouTube personality, a 27 year-old male who lives in Sweden. “Some 9 million people a day tune in to watch this college dropout play video games and crack jokes.” (“Social Media,” The Week, March 3, 2017, p. 18.)
Numbers like 9 million make my eyes roll back in my head as if to question whether or not my brain is still functioning. By way of comparison, my YouTube book show, Just Read It, which I co-host with fellow author Susan Stoner, draws about 2,000 viewers. How does this young man get 9 million day? PewDiePie might be prettier than I am, but he’s not better looking than Susan. I don’t tell jokes, of course, but if I showed time-lapse photos of my efforts to grow a beard, I doubt I could compete with PewDiePie’s record audience. Well, maybe a beard is too ambitious. How about a mustache? As an 80 year-old woman, I might manage that.
Whatever his attraction, the young Swede had found the sweet spot of YouTube. Nissan had signed him up for commercials and Disney was a sponsor. He earned over $15 million last year, “…well above the average salary of a Fortune 500 chief executive.” (Ibid pg. 18.) And then came the crash. Even Donald Trump remarked on it. “You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden. Who would believe this? Sweden.” (Click)
Okay, maybe Trump wasn’t talking about PewDiePie in his remarks. But the young man did have a crisis. Nine million people watched in horror, recently, as his program included some anti-Semitic jokes and showed Nazi imagery — probably Hitler’s mustache. For his indiscretion, the young man lost his sponsors and will probably lose a chunk of his audience. To the disaffected, Susan and I extend a warm Just Read It welcome –– with or without my mustache. (Click)
But life isn’t over for PewDiePie. He could broker a deal to audience-share with Steve Bannon and his white racist group, Breitbart News. Or, being self-employed and operating out of his apartment, as he does, he could carry go on as before, except he’s already $15 million dollars richer. Who knows? Some Just Read It viewers might migrate to him. Susan and I are okay with that. We love our audience but nothing in our numbers will do much to boost PewDiePie’s ratings.