Whether one loves, hates, or just plain doesn’t really care about popular YouTube content creator PewDiePie, it can be argued that his style of comedy works for many people – many, many people. With tens of millions of subscribers to his main YouTube channel, the Swedish streaming personality – real name Felix Kjellberg – is arguably the king of not only his genre but of that entire platform.
Thus, when PewDiePie went on a rant accusing YouTube of trying to reduce his viewership on purpose and then threatened to delete his channel once he’d reached 50 million subscribers, pop culture outlets – including this one – took notice. Earlier today, PewDiePie did indeed pass the 50 million subscriber mark, and made good on his threat to delete his channel. Well… kind of. Instead of deleting his main channel, PewDiePie deleted a secondary channel that he created just a couple months ago. It would appear that the whole thing was a joke.
In the video paying off the channel deletion gag, PewDiePie chastised the media for covering something that he feels he clearly presented as a joke as if it were a serious threat. The video ends with a montage of headlines presenting the story as a piece of straight news. Perhaps illustrating the disconnect between PewDiePie’s fans and the websites reporting on him, the majority seem to have been completely in on the joke, with some even speculating on Twitter that the end result would simply be the deletion of his second channel.
To further drive his point home, the last frame of the above clip says that PewDiePie will now delete his main channel when he reaches 100 million subscribers, which will obviously not happen for quite some time to come. Presumably, the media at large won’t assume he’s being serious this time, although one never knows for sure.
With the glut of “fake news” currently littering the internet – stories that are provably untrue, but presented as if they’re legitimate reporting in order to get clicks – one wonders if how quickly the media fell for what was ultimately a combination of a joke and a publicity stunt by PewDiePie is a symptom of that larger problem. After all, if PewDiePie’s own subscribers didn’t take his “threat” seriously, then why did anyone else? Because they read about it in countless articles that presented the story that way. It’s certainly food for thought, if nothing else.