PewDiePie (real name: Felix Kjellberg) is the most subscribed individual on YouTube with 103 million subs. His channel started around 2010 and was the most subscribed channel overall from 2013-2019. For much of the 2010s I didn’t even know who he was.
It’s like there was a whole side to life I was hiding from. Pretty depressing to think about. If I was on YouTube back then, I was probably watching music videos or TV clips. YouTube personalities just didn’t interest me. Every so often I would hear names like Markiplier and Logan Paul, though. I would assume they were a bunch of obnoxious show-offs doing reckless stunts.
I first heard the name PewDiePie around 2017 when I watched Charisma on Command’s video about him. They did an analytical take on Felix’s charisma and how he was able to amass such a large following. This was back when I aspired to be an influential business person (BLEHHHH) and studied videos such as this one. Felix himself even commented on it and said “best video”. A compliment from someone like him has to be humbling, yeah? Anyway, I wasn’t even subscribed to him at the time. That phrase of my life didn’t beget attention to the glitzy life of YouTubers.
Around January 2020 when life took a turn towards content creation, I started to study the most popular entertainers on YouTube. To my dismay, I learned that several months ago, an epic war ensued: the subscriber war between PewDiePie (the independent creator) and T-Series (the major corporation). Man, was I pissed to learn I missed something that huge while it was unfolding. I really could’ve contributed to Felix’s cause.
Anyway, at the point I started focusing on Felix he was taking a month-long hiatus and much of his success was already behind him. This is not to say he’s tanked, but that he seems more…subdued nowadays. His current format is mostly meme review and playing Minecraft. His eccentric comedy has waned. That’s bound to happen if you’ve been on the platform for 10 years.
As I went back and watched his most popular videos, I was instantly hooked. I could tell, by his editing style, how he’s been able to keep people watching. In the Age of Short Attention-Spans, it’s prudent for entertainers to appeal to as many senses as possible. In the case of PewDiePie, he keeps the viewer glued with random edits, sound effects, and camera zooms. If you put out a video that is raw footage of you talking for 5 minutes straight, guess what? Your video’s going to flop hard. People will simply swipe and watch something else to get their fix.
Also, his thumbnails. He’s really mastered Photoshop. I’ve learned that the best thumbnails have people’s faces on them with a strong emotion expressed. The best titles are usually in ALL-CAPS, as well. By studying him, I’ve learned a couple tricks and I’m sure any aspiring YouTuber should, too.
But let me be clear, I am not emulating PewDiePie. I am learning from him. I simply cannot be Felix Kjellberg. I have no passion when it comes to gaming. Hell, I’ve never even played Minecraft in my life. I think most online games are a waste of time. If you try to be something you’re not, people will see right through it (see: Elizabeth Warren’s beer debacle). Just be yourself, for god’s sakes. Those are 3 of the most important words you’ll hear in your life. JUST BE YOURSELF.
My most suprising takeaway from subbing to PewDiePie was the depth he has. I mentioned earlier that a lot of YouTubers are, ostensibly, the teenybopper types (especially Logan). However, YouTubers are like people. They’re like all of us in the sense that they grow as the years go by. Even Logan has gone through a bit of a transformation (the Suicide Forest controversy rattled him up pretty good).
Felix started out being the whimsical little kid with his comedy shorts. Then he became the edgy teenager that said “eff you” to everyone. After that, he was the wise, worldy adult that people went to for advice and support. He’s even made several videos to help aspiring YouTubers get started on the platform. Now, he seems like the jaded man having a mid-life crisis and reverting to playing video games. Will he go back to his old ways of edgy comedy? I suppose only time can tell.
I strongly recommend checking PewDiePie out if you haven’t already. He’s a fascinating character and will be regarded as an influential figure when we look back on this time.
Stay awesome, Bros.