Wednesday, October 18, 2017

What's Media? Whose Media?

This Blog Post Written by
 Samia Khan 

One day, as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, my usual focus of global predicaments was obliterated by something more local. My old friend from elementary school posted a status supporting YouTube sensation, PewDiePie. I didn’t know much about PewDiePie besides that he had the most YouTube followers from any YouTuber known. He was a gamer and now at that moment, his usage of the hard “N”- word. My old friend argued that PewDiePie had simply made a mistake, and that PewDiePie’s mention of the word held no bad connotation. As I defended my POV, his friend called me a “snowflake”, reflecting the potent influence PewDiePie had on him. Thus, I decided to investigate this influencer further to understand if I was simply being too sensitive or not.

Primarily, PewDiePie’s videos all captured his youthful nature, which resonates with the younger audience. He was prone to make impulsive, loud, “comical” remarks to draw in his audience. This was coupled effectively with his high production, colorful graphics.

I immediately realized that he appeals to a certain group of people. He was marketing himself to the younger generation (the receivers), as a sender, with his ability to incorporate, known Internet humor consistent with the younger generation – for example, use of profanity.

This youthful, enthusiastic nature combines with what he’s really popular for – his gaming videos. Although he doesn’t use a code difficult to understand to older viewers, his body language and spoken language call out to mostly younger viewers & he can easily influence them.

How about my old friend though who was the same age as me? I did some further research and discovered that PewDiePie was known for using tactless ideas to humor his audience way before this recent usage of the “N” word. He utilized both visual representation and corrosive oral messages to produce an anti-Semitic message.

Even though he apologized, how did his huge platform + this language influence younger viewers who already held certain ideals like people being “snowflakes” for not being okay with the hard N word and anti-Semitic jokes within their filter bubble. He was only confirming what they believed. Many of his younger viewers and gamers immediately were using words they didn’t even understand in the comment section, because they first saw it fetishized on internet memes and now with PewDiePie.

Trails of comments, minimizing the significance of the word infused the comment section.

“Next time you need to say ‘Nucking Figger”, “NI**A MANI**A”, “it’s just another word”…

With his power, not only has he proved to satisfy the SMR component of media, the filter/confirmation bubble, but he was also molding/pushing social norms & in response to that, perhaps inciting Internet mobs further.

PewDiePie’s platform was clearly, immensely strong – it nurtured multiple factors of MEDIA (a critical component of technology). However, in turn, he markets products through the arguments through his non-civil methods. These methods are applied to target marketing; a group of people with similar mindsets are collected in one domain as supporters to become consumers.

We see this hierarchy and power held by strong influential people on media, not only by PewDiePie, but by Trump, the Kardashians, etc.  PewDiePie’s language reflects who he is and who his supporters are. More importantly, his language manipulates how is viewers systematically conceptualize and perceive words and the world. Likewise, Trump’s use of words like rocket man took a lively form, and gave politics new dimensions – one that wasn’t so professional.

What happens when these higher, powerful platforms clash? In an article published by Swinburne Universityof Technology, the authors examined this same question, concluding that “in today’s landscape, [PewDiePie] is the media, and he will continue accordingly”.
They believed that PewDiePie experienced minor to no backlash, because he’s conquered a portion of media that ensures that other platforms can’t denounce his position in media as effectively as they’d desire to do so.

For example, when PewDiePie tried to dismiss his use of anti-Semitic imaging and wording, The Wall Street broke ties with him. PewDiePie responded by elucidating that Wall Street gave more power to the matter by employing their power in the situation, but they failed.
“It was an attack by the media to try and discredit me, to try and decrease my influence, and my economic worth” -PewDiePie

I found it interesting that Swinburne questioned, “Who, exactly, is “the media” here, though? The Wall Street Journal, with a readership of more than 20 million, or the man with an online audience twice that size?” and “who is the media?”

PewDiePie’s wide fame stems from his ability to use many ingrained parts of media to push himself and his products. He creates a cyclical movement where his persona uses social norms, filter bubbles + conformation bias, Internet mobs, language, etc to push his fame further. In turn, these components of media that he uses show up as byproducts from his viewers once again, which shows how strong of an internet figure he is. Thus, I’d answer Swinburne’s question with, PewDiePie is lodged in this systematic format of media in order to keep this rotation and growth of media in technology flowing.

But Swinburne also stated “the fact that media corporations can only sanction PewDiePie via the withdrawal of their partnerships but can’t exclude him entirely is one indication that we’re dealing with a different beast.” I then didn’t know how to define this immense power PewDiePie held.

Is PewDiePie then a composer of media or another cooperator of it?

What is your chyme in the matter of my old friend and younger viewers defending PewDiePie?

Do you agree with my input of a cyclical process handled by PewDiePie’s fame?
Does it frighten you as much as it frightens me?

·       Winkler, Rolfe, et al. “Disney Severs Ties With YouTube Star PewDiePie After Anti-Semitic Posts.” The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, 14 Feb. 2017,

·       Golding, Dan. “YouTube Star PewDiePie Is against ‘the Media’, but He’s a Part of It Too.” PewDiepie against ‘the Media’, but He’s Part of It | Swinburne News, The Conversation, 24 Feb. 2017,

·     Here’s the link to PewDiePie’s apology if you want to see the response of his supporters yourself!

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