White Privilege on Display on YouTube
The nefarious fight for YouTube supremacy you didn’t know about but should be afraid of
An internet popularity contest is going on these days that has no real importance except for the fact that it’s a struggle for global dominance. The contest is between a YouTuber called PewDiePie and a YouTube channel called T-Series. The former is a Swedish guy in a room making snarky comments. The latter is a channel that shows Bollywood videos. Never heard of it, you’re thinking. So why should you care?
The rivalry between the two is a manifestation of a current phenomenon at play in our society, namely, the ability of the elite to co-opt the very arguments that are used to challenge their power and turn them against their opponents. It’s the bully using anti-bullying policies to intimidate those who dare to stand up to them. It’s male-rights activists who cry about being discriminated against.
The PewDiePie-T-Series rivalry is a contest to see who will have the most subscribers and who will reach 100 million subscribers first. Last Friday, T-Series overtook PewDiePie for a brief few minutes before falling back into second place. At last count, PewDiePie had 17,000 more than T-Series with approximately 87 million in total, making him the most watched channel on the internet. This contest is largely fueled by PewDiePie’s fans who have launched an aggressive campaign to keep their hero in the lead.
“Who will win?” asks one PewDiePie follower. “A rich and powerful Indian business?”(1) This is the crux of the co-opt. PewDiePie’s fans have framed this as a small-guy-vs-corporate-giant-from-India contest, a Swedish Rocky Balboa versus an Indian Ivan Drago.(2)
The reality is very different. PewDiePie — real name Felix Kjellberg — is a a 29-year-old blonde-hair blue-eyed Swede. He started his internet life as a guy who videotaped himself gaming, and evolved from there into an internet personality who comments on anything that strikes his fancy. Although it’s difficult to know the true demographics of any channel’s subscribers, from the comments on his channel we can deduce that his followers are mostly young males, surely…