Playing the Pawn in PewDiePie’s Blame Game

Pewdiepie Famechangers Youtube Star

Because top YouTube star PewDiePie was dumped by Disney and YouTube in the wake of videos he created that were criticized for being anti-Semitic, it came as no surprise that he would produce a video responding to the controversy as he did Thursday.

But what came as something of a shock to me was that in the first minute of his counteroffensive, he cited a column I wrote about him for Variety in 2013 as Exhibit A in what he perceives as the media’s agenda to destroy him.

“I think most Internet personalities can agree with me that the media generally doesn’t like us very much,” he explains to viewers at the outset of his 11-minute video. “Variety, for example, posted in 2013 ‘If PewDiePie is YouTube’s Top Talent, We Are All Doomed.’ That was my introduction to the media. I don’t think I understood it at the time, I think what this article showed more than anything, old school media doesn’t like Internet personalities because they’re scared of us.”

PewDiePie continues for the majority of this video to lambaste the media, particularly The Wall Street Journal for breaking the story that led to his Disney ouster. (And if I thought I got it bad in the video, PewDiePie flashes them a middle finger and jams it in his mouth at the 10:22 mark.)

If this vilification of the news business seems familiar, it’s because the current president of the United States employs the same strategy: Blame the media for problems that are entirely of your own creation, and distract your millions of followers by giving them something to rally around.

Like Trump, he has a pro-wrestler instinct for strengthening the sense of community he has built with his massive audience base by allowing them to share in his persecution complex.

But in truth, he should thank the media for helping build the notoriety that is only going to bring more visibility to PewDiePie and take his career to the next level. Disney may have cut him off this week, but how much longer before ABC casts him in the next season of “Dancing with the Stars,” the destination of choice for disgraced celebrities in need of reputation rehab?

Or maybe Trump has an opening for him in his cabinet.

It’s interesting that nowhere in the video does PewDiePie come anywhere close to criticizing Disney or YouTube, which are the entities that pulled the plug on their respective deals with him. Neither of these companies were forced by the media to turn their backs on PewDiePie when the anti-Semitism story came out; they made a choice to do so.

To be clear: I am not accusing PewDiePie of being anti-Semitic. I only saw one of the videos in question (many of which have since been yanked from YouTube), and it struck me less as the product of some genuine hatred of his for Jewish people and more just as humor of questionable taste.

Unfortunately, the anti-Semitism accusations doesn’t help dispel the Trump parallels here.

The response video also seems to fit a pattern of publicity-generating controversy that was in evidence last year when PewDiePie threatened to cut ties with YouTube; it’s as if he is styling himself to be some kind of 21st century conflation of Lenny Bruce and Andy Kaufman, testing the boundaries of decency and turning his career into performance art.

I can understand why PewDiePie would be upset about what I wrote about him in 2013; it was a fairly vicious assessment of what I thought, and continue to think, about his act, which I described thusly: “Foul-mouthed PewDiePie jabbers nonsensically to the fans he calls ‘bros’ primarily about videogames in a voice that reminds you of a young Bobcat Goldthwait between hits of nitrous oxide.”

But let’s get real about PewDiePie’s crocodile tears. The column made abundantly clear that what I think doesn’t really matter because I am not in his target demographic. The ultimate point of that column was that the entertainment industry needed to get over any reflexive revulsion like my own that they might have toward him and reckon with this new force in media. The intentionally hysterically pitched headline wasn’t a symptom of how venomously I hate him; it was a comedic exaggeration of how much oldsters like myself can’t grasp his act, a nuance he seems not to have picked up.

Jeff Minton for Variety

But what really steams me is what PewDiePie neglected to share with the world in his video Thursday: Variety put PewDiePie on the cover in 2015 in an article that couldn’t have been more positive, hailing him as the leader of a new movement in entertainment. How come he didn’t complain then about the 2013 column when he agreed to pose for these pictures?

For the past three years, Variety has devoted three cover stories to the influencer phenomenon precisely because it matters and we were proud to be ahead of the curve. So forgive me for bristling when PewDiePie spouts, as he did today, “We have so much influence and such a large voice and I don’t think they understand it, and that’s why they take this approach.”

No, PewDiePie, the opposite of what you said is true: Variety understood your audience and influence from the very beginning, which is why you, and many other Internet stars out there, have gotten coverage both positive and negative from Variety over the years. We have spent so much energy legitimizing you and other digital-native influencers that it’s ridiculous of you to say our agenda is to de-legitimize you.

So make me a prop in your propaganda if  you must. But pardon me if I’m not willing to passively play the straw man you want to knock down to serve your misguided argument.

 

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  1. rudraprajapati says:

    Big Media conspiracies to silence New Media heroes doesn’t work anymore. There’s too many out there who no longer buy Big Media lies and ability to foist false charges and fly false flags. PewDiePie may have erred but his point is exactly this, that a new generation is coming that doesn’t give a crap about Big Media and will create their own spaces that can only be the envy of Big Media.

  2. King Sam the Fifeth says:

    You guys must be loving this, nobody comes to your websites for news anymore, so may as well get in on the drama with a few “opinion” pieces.

  3. This article is more about you than it is about Pewdiepie.

  4. Sergey Rozhenko says:

    The only similarity between PewDiePie and Trump is that after PeiDiePie scandal Trump’s attacks on media start to make sense. First, publishing 100% lies and extreme misrepresentation about a person, then when target of attack responds it’s him “blaming media for problems that are entirely of his own creation”. Nice! You may be getting more money, but you have no glimpse of credibility anymore.

  5. Tarik says:

    Nice, the article starts out with: pewdiepie criticises media, trump criticises media, therefore pewdiepie=trump. I criticise this article too. Therefore I’m sure that I’m like trump too. You’re not assuring me of your fair-mindedness by starting with such non-logic… at all…

  6. Ines says:

    What a dumb article. Paid lobbyist.

  7. Carl says:

    Conflating PewDiePie and Trump. Bravo, Sir, bravo. You are not at all irrelevant.

  8. Carl says:

    If anyone deserves a place in a Trump cabinette its you!

  9. Jackie says:

    I’m not a huge Pewdiepie fan, but geez, Variety, this article is pathetic. “How dare he cite MY article as an example of him being unfairly called out, even though that’s exactly what it was!” Grow a pair and own up to this.

  10. This article is a standard propaganda piece when the media is accused of something: nothing is ever the media’s fault, all others are to blame. But there are interesting ironies here, since PewDiePie is a one-man media player himself.

    First: yes, it’s bloody obviously WSJ that is to blame. Portraying someone as a Nazi does that person about as much good as labeling him a pedophile. Falsely doing so should therefore rend hard time in prison. Google and Disney are victims as well here, albeit also cowards, since they should be able to withstand media blackmail (“if you don’t sack the person we want be sacked, we go after you and destroy you. We’ll make sure everyone will view you as we want them to view you. In this case, we’ll make sure everyone thinks you are supporting Nazism”).

    The technique for vilifying someone is standard media indoctrination: take things out of context. Downplay (or omit entirely) facts that speak against your message. Take parts of clips and parts of statements that makes the target look maximum bad, regardless if that’s an honest description of him/her/it or not.

    What’s ironic here is that PewDiePie, being powerful media himself, seems to have done the same thing against Variety. Omitting info that speaks for Variety. (Of course it doesn’t have the same gravity as falsely accusing someone of being a Nazi).

    It’s absolutely hilarious reading Andrew Wallenstein (rightfully) complain of being a victim of one of those dishonest media treatments. It feels bad being unjustly treated, doesn’t it? NOW YOU KNOW HOW YOUR VICTIMS FEEL.

    Fake news are more devious when the facts presented are correct per se. The most efficient disinformation is not uttering straight-out lies, but to cleverly misrepresent the truth. This leads to the conclusion that, as far as I can see, your obnoxious president is right. American main stream media really is fake news.

  11. Beware. These comments read like a youtube thread :-0

  12. Matt K says:

    This attack on PewDiePie is waking up millions of people to the old media’s tricks. Thank you, Variety, for adding to this wonderful phenomenon and the death of corporate media. I didn’t think I’d ever take pleasure it watching something die.

  13. This article is a standard propaganda piece when the media is accused of something: nothing is ever the media’s fault, all others are to blame. But there are interesting ironies here, since PewDiePie is a one-man media player himself.

    First: yes, it’s bloody obviously WSJ that is to blame. Portraying someone as a Nazi does that person about as much good as labeling him a pedophile. Falsely doing so should therefore rend hard time in prison. Google and Disney are victims as well here, albeit also cowards, since they should be able to withstand media blackmail (“if you don’t sack the person we want be sacked, we go after you and destroy you. We’ll make sure everyone will view you as we want them to view you. In this case, we’ll make sure everyone thinks you are supporting Nazism”).

    The technique for vilifying someone is standard media indoctrination: take things out of context. Downplay (or omit entirely) facts that speaks against your message. Take parts of clips and parts of statements that makes the target look maximum bad, regardless if that’s an honest description of him/her/it or not.

    What’s ironic here is that PewDiePie, being powerful media himself, seems to have done the same thing against Variety. Omitting info that speaks for Variety. (Of course it doesn’t have the same gravity as falsely accusing someone of being a Nazi).

    It’s absolutely hilarious reading Andrew Wallenstein (rightfully) complain of being a victim of one of those dishonest media treatments. It feels bad being unjustly treated, doesn’t it? NOW YOU KNOW HOW YOUR VICTIMS FEEL.

    Fake news are more devious when the facts presented are correct per se. The most efficient disinformation is not uttering straight-out lies, but to cleverly misrepresent the truth. This leads to the conclusion that, as far as I can see, your obnoxious president is right. American main stream media really is fake news.

  14. J says:

    Hahaha not even a quarter of the way through the article you throw up your Trump straw man. You guys really are scared.

  15. Dave says:

    Ugh terrible point and horribly written. You are playing the straw man that enables Trump when you continue to lambaste a comedian for making a few bad jokes and threatening your job security. You are normalizing hatred when you compare Hitler and Trump to a goofy Swede who hasn’t hurt anyone.

    Seriously though, you wrote this paragraph: “Or maybe Trump has an opening for him in his cabinet.” That’s an entire paragraph by you. How are you even employed as a journalist?

  16. Dave Brooks says:

    He critiqued your article. Probably got you some clicks. Comparing him to Trump? That’s probably gonna get you some more clicks.

  17. Kat says:

    Oh sure… lets compare him to Trump now.. -____-

  18. You claim he “blame[s] the media for problems that are entirely of [his] creation”, but then you state clearly that you’re not really sure that he is an anti-semite. Well, that’s what this whole thing is about.

    That is what media at large is accusing him of. That is the crux of this entire debate. If you can’t address that, then there is really not point in judging his reaction to these accusations.

  19. Newslies says:

    You idiot, he wasnt blaming you guys for that, once morw you hear what you want. He blamed himself for that and even apologized. What he blamed you guys is publicising fake news to feed your own agenda, which in all actuality, many have. Many things where taken severely out of context, and some things even made up. It was almost as if the videos where not watched in full, or if only select things were listened to and posted.

  20. Nword says:

    You can go and ask people on the street if they know pewdiepie and i’m sure a lot of them will say who? the media has been just leeching whatever they can from him and it shows, i mean comparing pewdiepie to trump is really stupid because trump has a career that goes for decades and decades and the only thing they have in common that pewdiepie said the media mislead their audience which is true if you take the context out of the videos, and with trump is very different, i do not believe the media is faking news about trump but i have watched all the 9 videos from pewdiepie and if you do the skits on where he is being anti sematic are int he context of a overexaggerated joke.

  21. Emmaleigh says:

    The media didn’t legitimize PewDiePie. He is still very much an Internet star. He legitimized himself.

    And being the most subscribed person on YouTube, the Internet uses him for views.

    And I guess that includes Variety.

  22. I think the author of this article fails to realise that when ‘pewdiepie’ called the WSJ out on their pretty horrible reporting, he had a point. They took a joke and wrote about it as if it was truth. There’s a pretty clear case of libel right there. By no margin can this be compared to what a president is saying about the media. Trump is the president and represents the establishment: when he criticises all media as being ‘fake’, it is worrying and a real problem. But when you compare that behaviour to an internet comedian, you are taking the severity away from the issue. You are delegitimizing the serious issue of the free press. When you claim that ‘pewdiepie’ and Trump are the problem, then your whole argument looks like a joke! A President should be held to a much higher standard than a comedian.
    P.S. The author also forgot to include the response ‘H3H3 productions’ ( 3 million subs) gave in support of ‘pewdiepie’. I feel this is important as it is run by a good friend of pewdiepie’s, the Jewish couple: Ethan and Hila.

    • Robert Lee says:

      Yes it can be used about Trump. The media is corrupt across the board. I’m not a fan of Trump’s over the top antics but they are also blowing Trump’s actions way out proportion as well and have been debunked several times in the last week alone.

      They’ve out of control and are becoming dangerous.

  23. Cal says:

    I wouldn’t call this a good follow up. Why would you push politics in this fiasco? This has nothing to do with politics. You’re basically just using this situation to push your political opinions over an issue which was taken out of context. Honestly reading stuff such as this one just makes me wonder where the media’s common sense flew.

  24. Peter says:

    Pewdiepie doesn’t owe the media anything. He rose to fame and success on his own, in grassroots fashion, with people sharing his channel and content. If you know anything about Felix, a silly but modest guy, you know the media attention is often more trouble than it’s worth for him. In general, the media has emphasized his wealth over everything and made him a target. Disney and YouTube, disappointing though they are for rushing to sever their ties, are only appeasing the public pressure manufactured by reckless journalists. Pewdiepie doesn’t need to be “legitimized”; he only needs not to be slandered by the press.

    His subscribers overwhelmingly support him, the controversy has sent him scores of new fans, and he’ll be seen and remembered for standing up to media smear campaigns. In the end, the optics will be much worse for the news organizations pushing these thin accusations.

  25. Kristy says:

    You are just mad because, he called you out. This entire piece is a trash and Trump saying the media asking a question is unfair is different from you and other “journalist” trying to capitalize and get your piece of the pie that is someone else’s fame is just sad and pathetic. Write real stories not something that is just lashing out because you are all up in your feelings.

  26. Shiva says:

    Really have u saw his full video??
    Dumb Morons even I feel like i have More Intelligence than these MFking Journals

  27. Mr. Andrew Wallenstein, I challenge you to find one comment here that displays agreement to your propaganda. Y’all thought no one would save Felix from destruction but people who weren’t even familiar with him pre-scandal joined hands and stood for righteousness. This isn’t even an article. It’s a whiny act of patronisation that won’t improve your reputation. The damage you brought to Felix mentally and socially is unimaginable and if he sues you (believe me, we’re pushing him hard into doing so), your career and personal life will be annihilated. There is however one way to save yourself. Apologise.

  28. Anirudh G says:

    Your entire 2013 article was written completely out of bad taste and it is quite evident when anyone reads it where you openly call him immature and criticise his content.
    You accuse him of shedding crocodile tears while by writing this article it is clear that you are trying to play the victim.
    This article is just a description of your hypocrisy and a very poor attempt at defending your actions.
    SHAME ON YOU

  29. Loaf says:

    He lost his show, he said he was sorry, he took down the videos and he teared up and he NEVER cries in videos. Why cant people leave him alone now?

  30. Corban says:

    No hate here. Many parts of this were good and you have a point. But besides the few good things you’ve said it doesn’t change the title of the original article from Variety was negative. The majority of the things written about him including what you have is negative. His only tears were that of appreciation to those who support him(which could have included you). Instead of turning around on him in this article you could have continued to support him to prove that at least Variety still cares about journalism. So the negative ending to this article ruins the opportunity to prove him wrong. I think you mean well, more than Wall Street Journal who went to Disney and YouTube with their claims before posting them and asked if the support the out of context version of the story and that they are going to post it. That’s the only reason why they severed ties with him, to avoid a possible scandal instead of seeing if the outcome is true. Anyway, I appreciate the initial try of decency and I think, again just like the others, a little more research into the situation and alleged videos you would be able to write a better and more truthful article.

  31. zynor says:

    oooh strong words there “crocodile tears” do you have something else? “misguided argument”!?!?!? WAOW, we totally believe you ma man! nice propaganda there trying justifying shit you’ve done! you know you can get sued right? I don’t know how retarded you are, but you are just lucky. don’t push it too far faggot.

  32. shit brains says:

    “We legitmized you” thats a crock of shit

  33. Nidhi says:

    Oh so you write nice articles about him, which is your fucking job btw, he can’ talk about media slandering him at all? Just because media supported him once or twice, he can’t complain about his unwarranted defamation at all?

    And nice try, trying to increase your own relevance by painting yourself as a victim when Felix is actually suffering from unnecessary backlash, now FUCK OFF

  34. Ali says:

    I am laughing so hard. Did you even LISTEN to him?

  35. ana says:

    Seriously? Comparing a 28 year old man who does comedy videos to Donald Trump? I think that only speaks low of you. This is not a partial article, this is the co editor in chief angry at Pewdiepie trying to throw some shade. How did you ever make it to such an important position? Well, i guess just as Trump got into power, being elected by nonsensical people.

  36. garbagemediainc says:

    writer is salty as fuck

  37. Journalism in 2017. Funny how this article is 99% authors personal opinion and yet this guy wouldn’t have the guts or relevance to post this directly to pewdiepie via twitter or face to face. Pathetic.

  38. Cameron says:

    Let’s not lie, your 2013 article was very trashy and poorly written. This article makes it clear you are making progress. Still not great, no need to childishly defend your article against frankly justified criticism. If you could see that, you would see there is no need for this article to exist at all (Also don’t just file things under Donald Trump that makes you look like a hack). The joke he made was in poor taste sure, but notice he didn’t mention all of his interactions with the media were bad, just fhe majority. Your mag giving him a cover does not justify a poorly written piece.

  39. Kate says:

    if that’s called journalism nowadays, we are all doomed

  40. Nate says:

    I actually laughed when you started comparing him to Trump, and even tagged this article as being related to him. What a quality attempt at attracting more viewers

  41. Dan says:

    Really? You’re too dumb to realize that pewdeepie was doing you a favor, by doing interviews and covers, not the other way around!!

  42. Some Shmo says:

    “If this vilification of the news business seems familiar, it’s because the current president of the United States employs the same strategy: Blame the media for problems that are entirely of your own creation, and distract your millions of followers by giving them something to rally around.”

    No. This was manufactured by the WSJ. They actually contacted Disney saying “see? he’s an Antisemite”. That’s not journalism. That’s activism. He didn’t create the problem, the journos at WSJ did, by choosing to focus on a guy who they cannot control, who they cannot dictate to, smear his name and reputation and deny him lucrative deals because they misunderstood humor and mistook it for genuine antisemitism. Sorry. You fail on so many levels, especially since you seem to believe you belong to some sort of class in society that can effect dominance over others by bullying and smearing them.

    Fact remains, PewDiePie’s subscriptions are going up. He’s got nearly 60 Million. How many does Variety have? About 40,000 in circulation? Average of 120,000 readers?

  43. dolph ziggler says:

    i can see the glimmer in your eye when pewdiepie mentioned you andrew, you thought “yay i will be relevant for the day”, gotta squeeze out an antagonizing article to get those clicks! this will be your most viewed article of the year, some sloppy article admitting you are old and out of touch. how does that make you feel as a journalist that this is what the top looks like?

  44. Alyssa B. says:

    1. Pewdiepie doesn’t need your lack of journalism to make him notorious and further his success, he’s done it on his own. All you are doing is annoying other Internet personalities and their fans and making yourself look stupid amongst them and being ignored by people who are actually looking through your site for actual news.

    2. Yes he gave them (and you) the middle finger, so did many other personalities, predominantly because the context of your facts are inaccurate.

    3. You should at least ATTEMPT to make your article impartial by saying “Because YouTube and Disney cut ties with Pewdiepie” rather than “YouTube star Pewdipie was dumped by Disney and YouTube” because now you just seem like you’re enjoying the attempt to ruin a man’s work rather than reiterate the “news” you posted in the past.

    4. You sound stupid in your example of “how much longer before ABC casts him in the next season of ‘Dancing with the Stars'”; it’s Disney owned. Think before you speak.

    5. Also, he’s not disgraced, you mainstream media outlet companies are just petty.

    6. He didn’t take down his “Anti-Semitic” videos. They were simply never Anti-Semitic and are still presently on his channel. Give it a watch and maybe you’ll understand what the context truly is.

    7. If the title of you old article was “comedic” then his “Anti-Semitic” statements “facts that he’s Anti-Semitic.”

    8. Pewdiepie didn’t complain about the magazine cover, but other online personalities certainly did.

    9. From a lot of statements above, your conclusion is false.

  45. Marcus says:

    trump comparisons. The number one strategy for authors without real arguments.

  46. Alex says:

    Interesting cover style

    Are the handgun and the giant x mark supossed to represent something, or symbolism is something the people responsible for the photos does not really think about?

  47. Tim James says:

    You were perfectly clear about the distinction between PDP and Digital Entertainment in general. The IF>THEN nature of the statement was ample. Digital Entertainment has virtually unlimited possibilities. One particular vainglorious douchebag… more limited, and dealing with those limitations here and now.

  48. John says:

    I am disgusted by you Andrew Wallenstein. Did you or any other Variety writer actually write about the money he has raised for charities? No?! Well perhaps that could have been considered newsworthy. I believe that he mentioned in that same video or perhaps a very recent one. Honestly, get a different job, journalism is not for you. That profession actually involves doing research, presenting an unbiased view and not being lazy.

    Cheers!

  49. Lea Kane says:

    Felix did address Disney & YouTube dropping him. He understands their actions are reactionary out of fear they will be associated with anti-Semitism. Nobody wants to be smeared and when the media smells blood in the water, context & facts go out the window so conglomerates quickly surrender as to not get swept up and have to deal with their own PR issues. It’s just sad this is the way media makes their money these days.

  50. Charley says:

    I used to watch PDP for the gaming, but I unsubscribed because I just don’t find him entertaining or his commentary useful anymore. I haven’t seen any of his allegedly anti-semitic videos, although there is a limit to being a “bad-boy” AND expecting corporate sponsors to tolerate behaviors that the majority of their customers to find offensive.

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