For nearly six years, the famous YouTuber Pewdiepie (Felix Kjellberg) has been the most subscribed channel on YouTube. In 2010, Kjellberg created his YouTube channel. Only three years later, he broke the record for having the most subscribers on YouTube. Since then, he has stayed on top as the “King of YouTube.” That is, until last year.
It all started when the Indian music company, T-Series, suddenly blew up on YouTube. In 2018, T-Series gained nearly 50 million subscribers. T-Series continued to become a larger threat to Kjellberg’s channel. In response, Pewdiepie released a diss track titled “b*tch lasagna” on October 5, 2018. This video went viral, and has over 100 million views as of January 15.
Even with the boost of attention Pewdiepie’s diss track gave to his channel, the subgap between T-Series and Pewdiepie continued to become smaller. On December 1, 2018, T-Series was less than 50,000 subscribers away from surpassing his channel. At the time, even Kjellberg himself was confident that the next morning, his long-held record would be broken.
That is, until YouTube gamer Markiplier posted a video urging his fanbase, which consists of 22 million people, to subscribe to Pewdiepie on that fearful day. Within 24 hours, Pewdiepie gained several hundred thousand subscribers.
The community on YouTube has come together in order to support content creators more than ever before. Despite the countless problems and scandals that have come out of YouTube, the community continues to sustain the core purpose of the platform: to bring together all types of people with a common interest of entertaining content created by genuine people.
The battle between Pewdiepie and T-Series has become a viral meme circulating the internet. Several famous YouTubers have gone to extreme lengths to support Pewdiepie in order to keep him the most subscribed channel. Kjellberg begs his viewers to support him in his battle against T-series: “This is our last chance. I care about one thing and one thing only. To get to 69 million before that G******- You know what, it doesn’t matter. You know what to do,” Pewdiepie says in a satirical video. His request was most definitely delivered.
MrBeast, a YouTube channel with 13 million subscribers, has posted several videos promoting Pewdiepie. On the 26th of October, he posted a video titled “I Bought Every Billboard in My City For This”. As the title suggests, Mr. Beast bought several billboards and advertisements, telling people to subscribe to Pewdiepie.
Popular YouTuber Justin Roberts bought a one million dollar billboard in Times Square, giving the same message as Mr. Beast did; to subscribe to Pewdiepie.
Even Logan Paul, an extremely controversial YouTuber who Kjellberg has criticized multiple times in his videos, posted a video on December 6 encouraging his 18 million subscribers to, you guessed it, subscribe to Pewdiepie.
Putting aside all of the memes, videos, and promotions, the support Pewdiepie has received is unfathomable. The reason why people care so much about keeping Kjellberg’s channel on top isn’t all about numbers; the reasoning is much deeper than that.
Kjellberg himself has spoken out about how he feels about the situation in a video posted on October 21: “I don’t really care about T-Series, I generally don’t, but I think if YouTube does shift in a way where it does feel more corporate, then something else will take its place. People enjoy this connection so much, I think something else will show up if it becomes more corporate.”
Many active users on YouTube agree with Pewdiepie’s point. YouTube Rewind 2018 was extremely disconnected from YouTube’s audience, and it shows: the video has over 15 million dislikes, making it the most disliked video on YouTube.
Freshman Sabrina Colon is one of the millions of people that strongly dislikes the most recent YouTube Rewind.
“When I watched that video, I didn’t recognize the majority of people in it. There were even people that weren’t from the YouTube platform. The video was so cringey and it poorly reflected the past year.”
In addition, Colon said, “And for some reason, it didn’t have Pewdiepie in it. How does that make any sense?” Sabrina asks. “That just further shows how bad the relationship between YouTube and it’s audience has become, for them to not even put the most popular YouTuber in Rewind.”
To answer Colon’s question, Pewdiepie is a controversial YouTuber who has gotten into quite a few scandals in the past for making offensive jokes. Putting him in rewind could possibly reflect poorly on YouTube.
Pewdiepie also often criticizes YouTube for being biased towards certain YouTubers. He points out that YouTube allows some creators get away with scandals, while others, such as himself, aren’t given the same treatment.
For example, Pewdiepie’s YouTube Premium series “Scare Pewdiepie” was cancelled after he got involved in a scandal for making anti-semitic jokes in 2017.
The following year, Logan Paul, a popular YouTuber, got in a much worse scandal for posting a video showing footage of a dead body he found in the infamous Japanese Suicide Forest.
At the time, Logan Paul was apart of a YouTube Premium series, similar to Pewdiepie, called “The Thinning: New World Order.” Many people expected his movie would be cancelled after all the backlash he faced, but the show was still released a few months later.
Kjellberg claimed it was completely unfair that Logan wasn’t given the same treatment as he was. “It’s kind of amazing how a billion-dollar company can be so inept at leadership. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to apply the same rules for everyone,” Pewdiepie says in a video.
It’s clear that Pewdiepie doesn’t have the best relationship with YouTube, but that doesn’t justify YouTube’s lacking connection with their viewers.
Pewdiepie fan Drew McGrath, a freshman at the iSchool, gives his insight: “I think the company that is YouTube has become a lot more focused making money and more corporate stuff,” he says.
“YouTube used to be a lot more flexible with the content creators put out there,” McGrath says. It was all about the people that made up YouTube and the tight-knit community that came out of it.”
“But these days, they’re demonetizing videos for no valid reason. YouTube is so much more focused on advertisers and making money rather than the creators that made YouTube successful in the first place. It ruins the original purpose of the website,” McGrath explains.
Recode Magazine explains in an article what demonetization is: “Since 2012, YouTube has been automatically “demonetizing” some videos because its software thought the content was unfriendly for advertisers.
So basically, videos that contain inappropriate content, such as the use of swear words or “improper” themes, will not have any ads, therefore, the content creator loses money.
“Many YouTube’s software will screw things up, which means videos that should have ads don’t, which means YouTube video makers have been missing out on ad revenue,” according to Recode Magazine.
This “screw up” has become more and more frequent within the last couple years on YouTube, proving to be one of the many problems on the platform.
Slava Hausler-Lew, a freshman at the iSchool and a frequent user on YouTube, says despite all the controversy and scandals, it’s remarkable how many people came together to support Pewdiepie.
“It goes to show how close the YouTube community is, and no real support from the company itself can ever change that,” Hausler-Lew says. “Even if T-series does win, they’ll never have the same fan base as Pewdiepie, or any other indie channel for that matter.”
With over 1.8 billion users, YouTube is one of the most popular websites on the internet. With so many channels and videos, it’s difficult to have a successful career on YouTube. Pewdiepie has managed to maintain a growing audience since the beginning of his career, and the love people have for his content is clear.
The amount of support Kjellberg has received is practically unbelievable, considering the amount of hate and criticism he gets.
Despite the fact that YouTube is a corporate company with an economic focus, the people that make up the platform still remain dedicated to the channels they have loved since the beginning. Pewdiepie is only one of many examples of this.