“No one wants positive news stories about YouTubers.”
Huh. Guess I’m no one then.
When was the last time you heard something positive about YouTubers from somewhere other than YouTube? The only one I can think of is a comedic musical number done by James Corden’s Late Late Show. That was three years ago, and it wasn’t a news story, it was a playful mockery. Not that it was bad -- I like the song, but it isn’t serious.
When was the last time you heard something negative about YouTubers from another media? Around the end of February, Disney, Nestle, and Epic Games pulled their ads from the website after creator Matt Watson uploaded a video describing how easy it is to find links to child pornography in the comments section of videos. Two months ago there was a negative opinion article in The Bagpipe on YouTube. We had RiceGum and Jake Paul promoting gambling to children with the Mystery Brand Scandal in December, Logan Paul’s graphic suicide forest video at the beginning of 2018, etc.
But the reality is that these bad actors are a small portion of the giant ecosystem of YouTube. Many creators have produced hundreds of hours of funny, thoughtful, or helpful content.
And not just for their own gain. In 2018, $20 million was raised for charity by YouTube creators and their communities, $12 million of which was from gaming channels. There are so many great contributing groups in the gaming community, but here are three individuals who have gone above and beyond in giving back.
Markiplier (real name Mark Edward Fischbach, 23.45 million subscribers), in the time from September 2012 to February 2016 raised $628,670.14. In 2018, he raised just under a million, and he announced at the end of 2018 that all proceeds from his merchandise going forward will be donated, which is estimated to be $100,000 to $300,000 a month. His charitable contributions have gone to Doctors without Borders, St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital, and Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.
Jacksepticeye (real name Sean McLoughlin, 21.77 million subscribers) in the last year raised just over a million for charity. In 2016, he had a record of $1.3 million donated in AIDS research. He has supported St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital, Make-A-Wish Foundation, and Crisis Text Line.
And finally, PewDiePie (real name Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellburg, 91.33 million subscribers): the most subscribed individual in all of YouTube. You may have heard of him, if not the others, from articles in 2015 depicting him as a racist, but let’s look at PewDiePie’s impact. In 2016 he raised $1.3 million for RED (which helps poor communities affected by HIV/AIDS) in 8 hours. That’s $45 a second. He donated $153,000 to Charity: Water which helps bring drinkable water to rural areas, and $343,000 to Save The Children. The biggest kicker is this: recently PewDiePie has been contending with T-Series, a multi-channel network based in India. When some of his fan base began making racist comments about Indians, his response was to set an example by starting a GoFundMe to donate to Child’s Rights and You (CRY) to stop forced child labor in India. CRY’s website was shut down for a period. It was unable to process the volume of user donations from people sent there by PewDiePie.
In short, YouTube and YouTube gamers are much bigger than the ones you’ve heard about. These are only three individual actors. Many group channels have contributed as well. In response to hearing about Alex Trebek’s cancer, Rooster Teeth’s Let’s Play channel played a video game version of Jeopardy to raise money for pancreatic cancer research. Regardless of YouTube corporate, the adpocalypse, and negative media coverage, the creators on YouTube have great and powerful voices, and have used them for good. And the community has responded. And I can truly say: I am so proud of this community.