A caution on tearing down others for your own gain.

Transcript

I’m not really a fan of Pewdiepie. I felt his early videos were immature and while he still pushes the boundary of what I consider humor he’s become less of a screaming clown and more of a satirist. There’s been some controversy for Felix, and I won’t go in depth over it because there’s been no shortage of even more popular youtubers that have gone into great detail. The short of it is that Pewdiepie has seen a volley of articles claiming just about anything from him being a racist to him being a nazi. What he’s been guilty of is that he made a few jokes about Nazis, which the media has then taken out of context as endorsing anti-semitism.

Vidme Link: https://vid.me/Ph5c

It’s to be expected of click bait driven online outlets such as Polygon, Vox and Wired. The Wired article’s even had three titles because it was so misleading. Strangest of all is that the Wall Street Journal seems to have gotten wind of the idea behind creating “Youtube drama” generates clicks and produced two articles about Pewdiepie, one of them being a response  to his response.

In Pewdiepie’s video he went through the examples they offered, gave his side of the story, apologized for the jokes and admitted he doesn’t feel he’s that good of a satirist. He ends it with an expletive aimed at the Wall Street Journal which I’m sure just encouraged them to write their second piece.

As luck would have it, one of those writers on the WSJ byline has made racist jokes in his own  tweets. So take that for what you will.

Misleading titles, cherry picking things out of context, all of this is pretty much libel but the motivation is the most worrying. Pewdiepie attributes this to a case of Old Media trying to de-legitimize New Media, Youtubers and other Influencers. This has some traction when we consider click driven new sites go after people like Jon “JonTron” Jafari and Markus “Notch” Persson. These people are perceived tokens of “new media.”

While it does seem to be the case I don’t feel I could say with completely certainty that this is the media’s motivation short of having a record of the intention. Just like the media can’t really call any of those people bigoted without proof of intention.

This is of course nothing new, it’s been a struggle for comedians pushing boundaries for decades and the last few years there’s been a push by the media to label different groups as bigots. With these statements of bigotry being injected into everything and now politics it’s becoming a freedom of speech issue.

I say this begrudgingly as the phrase has almost lost meaning, when invoked by twitter polemicists but if the irresponsible members of the media continue this crusade unchallenged this has potential to threaten people’s freedom. It should not be possible for one’s professional reputation built over years to be destroyed in the court of public opinion because a series of articles ran falsehoods.

This isn’t what journalism is meant to be.

As I said, I don’t quite care for Pewdiepie’s sense of humor and while I don’t think he’s going to change the world, people must feel like they can test their societal boundaries. Whether it be comedy, art, science or academia, these are venues where we encourage ourselves to think beyond what we feel is socially acceptable. Sometimes an individual may misstep, and they will see repercussions, just as Pewdiepie saw with Disney and Youtube wanting distance. Unfortunate but understandable they would make those choices.

It is important though that society not revert or lose that brave or even foolish curiosity, as this can lead to stagnation. There can’t be progress for a lack of trying and there can’t be new ideas if dissent is discouraged.

As a Socialist, Upton Sinclair’s motivations as a writer were obvious. Despite the idea of socialism being a dirty word in modern America, it is irrefutable that positive change came from his writings. After interviewing the people who worked in the meat industry of the early 20th century, Sinclair wrote The Jungle. The novel descried the unhealthy and dangerous conditions experienced by those who gave life and limb and were paid little and died in poverty. This led to a public outcry, federal reforms and the formation of the Food and Drug Association. This wasn’t exactly Sinclair’s goal but it’s still progress. Sinclair later wrote The Brass Check, an expose on yellow journalism of the era. Maybe that’s something worth visiting now.

It’s not all of the media that engages in this self destructive reporting, but it is approaching a point where those who don’t, for how few or how many they are, must speak out. To position themselves as the adversary of a man with 53 million followers, and numbers that continue to grow as more people side with him, i   s career suicide. Especially when anyone can easily go view the videos they claim are incriminating. You are lying to a younger generation which will replace your current readers.

It may be profitable to tear down and label others as enemies, but to make a career out of it means you will quickly grow an audience that despises you and create a space for someone to point at you as the new enemy.

If ever there was a time for journalists to make sure they do their best work, that time is now. The media not only stands to lose even more credibility but the chance to be the fifth estate. Is losing the ability to print the truth really worth some quick cash? It has to be cash, because without the trust of an audience the press has no influence.

If this all goes bad, I don’t want them in my samizdat. I’ll feel real bad if any clickbait writers end up in a gulag, but I won’t be the one who put them there.

Take care.

Until next time.

 

Sources:

PewdiePie’s response https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwk1DogcPmU
Wall Street Journal 1st Article – http://archive.is/iy1hR
Wall Street Journal – https://archive.is/PcGQT
Sun Article – https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2906249/pewdiepie-anti-semitic-scandal-journalist-targeted-by-angry-online-mob-over-hypocritical-tweet-about-jewish-people/

Advertisements