Tired of despairing of Trump and Brexit? Why not despair about YouTube stars instead?

They earned how much?! For doing what?!

By Kieren McCarthy in San Francisco

Posted in Business, 8th December 2017 23:49 GMT

It's a reality of life that some people have a lot of money and some very little.

But sometimes that disparity feels less like an unfortunate but ultimately inconsequential side effect of capitalism and more like a tasteless joke inflicted on society by some omnipotent prankster.

The existence of YouTube stars and their resulting earnings is one such tasteless joke.

There is, for example, Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, a Swede better known as PewDiePie, who makes videos of himself playing video games and screaming and swearing. For some reason this is a winning combination that has made him the most followed person on YouTube with an incredible 58 million followers.

It's not hard to see why: the start of his most recent video comprises of him trying to play a video game and it crashing. He then reads the words on the screen for two minutes before the video is overrun with an ad.

It is, well, garbage. But that ad – and the other six that appear during the course of his hour-long snooze-fest of a video – bring in an enormous amount of money. According to Forbes, no less than $12m in 2017 alone. That's right, $12m for playing video games and being an ass.

Kjellberg is not even the top earner this year. Probably because he lost advertisers, including Disney, when he posted a series of extremely uncomfortable anti-Semitic videos that included Nazi imagery.

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In one hilarious video, he paid two people through freelancer website Fiverr to open and hold up a sign that said "Death to all Jews." It was brilliant because, you know, millions of innocent Jews were murdered by the Nazis. But Kjellberg's take on it was he testing out a theory: that he could get people to do extreme things for just a few dollars.

Just gets funnier

He roared with laughter, as did we all, when two Indians unfurled the banner and Kjellberg pretended to be horrified even though it was actually him that planned it, sent the banner, and paid someone to film it so he could pretend to be horrified by it.

It was such a brilliant wheeze they he did it again: this time with an Israeli who made a video dressed as Jesus who was paid – by Kjellberg – to say "Hitler did nothing wrong." When the Israeli was then suspended by Fiverr as a result, the comic genius that is Kjellberg roared: "It's a little bit ironic that Jews somehow found another way to fuck Jesus over."

So that $12m in earnings this year, then. PewDiePie was the sixth highest earner on YouTube.

One place above him is Logan Paul. One place below, Logan's brother Jake. They earned $12.5m and $11.5m respectively for… well, for producing this kind of rubbish.

In it, Logan alternates between meaningless stunts – like getting a dwarf to ride in a miniature car when he drives in the real version behind him – and shouting excitedly about his "merch" which comprises T-shirts and sweatpants that look like every other T-shirt or sweatpant you've ever seen.

His brother Jake, who makes millions of dollars doing ground-breaking things like setting fire to a mattress and filming it burning, lives in West Hollywood where his neighbors are considering suing him for his idiotic behavior.

A recent article about him was titled: " We Found Him, The Worst Person On Earth."

Surely there is some talent in the most popular YouTube people? Surely they are doing something other than playing video games, carrying out stupid pranks and screaming?

Playing games

Ok, top dog: Daniel Middleton aka Dan TDM. He earned $16.5m and he… makes videos of himself playing games.

On to number 2: Evan Fong aka VanossGaming. He made $15.5m and… yup, films himself playing video games.

Right! Number 3. Dude Perfect. Dude Perfect?! Are you fucking kidding me? $14m for doing basketball stunts.

Let's keep going. Mark Fischbach aka Markiplier - $12.5m. For… well, some gaming, but mostly lots of shouting. There is some animation. So it's kind of like a bad version of Rick and Morty with more shouting and fewer good gags.

Then 5, 6, 7 are the Idiot Brothers and PewDiePie, as covered above.

Let's try number 8. It's a kid! A six-year-old kid. What the hell is he doing here? Well, Ryan ToysReview made a very healthy $11m in 2017 and comprises of… Ryan unboxing toys. And occasionally starring in cheaply produced kids music songs.

Ryan is a cute kid. But his videos are exactly what they sound like: a six-year-old unboxing toys and playing with them. That is, honestly, all it is.

If you are still with us and haven't passed out from banging your head repeatedly against a desk or wall, we have two left of the top ten.

At number 9, earning a staggering $11m this year from YouTube videos and related nonsense is comedy duo Ian Hecox and Daniel Padilla better known as Smosh. Except now it's just Ian because Daniel left in June.

Smosh sits in between Public Access Television and real television. It has sketches and multiple people and things like mini game shows. They go to some effort at least. The quality is… not good.

One example: a game show in which a guest – another YouTuber - is asked to identify a blanked-out word from her own tweet. "I like my coffee like I like my men: [blank]." She couldn't remember her own tweet. The answer was: "Existent." Yeah, we are not looking at a future Johnny Carson here.

Our saviour

And finally, at number ten, we may finally have someone with some talent. No, seriously.

Lilly Singh does comedic sketches and has used her online fanbase to pull in celebrities pushing their projects to pull in more viewers and earned $10.5m in 2017. She's actually good. She goes to some trouble. There is a performance, some skill, some comedic timing.

We could easily see her getting her own show on mainstream TV. Although you have to wonder whether she'd want to do it given that YouTube gives her, presumably, free rein to do what she wants and clearly brings in an enormous amount of money.

So there you go. The internet has the potential to elevate and reward new talents and original voices. And it gives us – the audience – the ability to get that, unvarnished and free from corporate control.

And the result is that… we watch people acting like dicks and screaming while playing video games. Still, it has to be better than following Trump's Twitter feed.

Have a good weekend all. The world is tumbling into a crevasse of mindless bullshit. See you down there! ®

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