YouTube has the power to turn ordinary people into worldwide celebrities with millions of dollars to their names. ‘Stars’ such as Tyler Oakley, who has used his YouTube channel to talk about a wide variety of LGBTQ issues (as well as the culture of celebrity), is now a household name with millions of fans tuning in to his every word. Likewise, beauty vlogger Zoe Sugg, known to her millions of YouTube followers as Zoella, broke the record for the highest ever first week sales of a first time novelist with her debut novel, “Girl Online”.
While one could argue long and hard about whether this celebrity culture is entirely welcome, or whether these people deserve to be so famous for essentially uploading clips of them talking, there is no denying it does make them a lot of money. Case in point, YouTube star PewDiePie, who made $7 million in 2014.
PewDiePie (real name, Felix Kjellberg) is officially the world’s biggest YouTube star, with nearly 38 million subscribers to his channel. He became famous for his Let’s Play videos, during which he plays a video game and films his opinion and reaction to it. While YouTube stars are not normally allowed to discuss their income, Swedish newspaper Expressen revealed PewDiePie’s earnings for 2014, which has mainly come from advertising revenue from ads placed on his channel. By publishing the report, Expressen opened up the floor for people to express a wide range of opinions on the matter, and a lot of them were angry.
This in turn prompted PewDiePie to release a new video, Let’s Talk Money, in which he does just that (see above). Stating that he has purposefully tried to avoid talking about money in the five years he’s been making videos, PewDiePie was adamant that he doesn’t feel money is important and that he never assumed he would make money when he started making videos.
“What people don’t think about until it’s in their face is that I have nine billion views, and that translates to something,” he told his viewers. “I have ads on my videos and that translates to something.” He added:
“Haters gonna hate, right? But I really think that money doesn’t make you happy.”
PewDiePie also went on to read out some of the negative comments he had received in regard to the article. He responded well to each one, and laughed it off. Why wouldn’t he? He has millions of dollars in the bank, after all. While it undoubtedly upsets many people that PewDiePie has become such a huge star simply for filming his reactions as he plays a video game, could it simply be a case of jealousy because they didn’t think of it first? Does the world ever truly enjoy a success story, or does it just remind us of our own shortcomings?
At the end of his video, PewDiePie makes a good point:
“It seems like the whole world cares more about how much money I make than I do myself. We did raise $1million for charity and very few articles picked up on that, but here it is, everywhere, how much money I make. I don’t think there’s any good reason why anyone should care. And on top of that I guess there’s no good reason why I should care either. So we’re just going to end it there.”