The Politics of YouTube Rewind

YouTube’s year-end rewind is now upon us, but what it’s rewinding is more so a political breakdown of the politically sanitized face YouTube would like to present to the world. It’s a confusing mishmash of celebrities and an intersectional rainbow of social justice-friendly bloggers who make all of the same appeals to diversity and overall goodness.

The most obvious delivery of this is the total absence of two of the largest and most well-known YouTubers, PewDiePie and Logan Paul. While Paul makes more sense than Pewds on account of his corpse-strewn antics, Pewds is someone whose character has been smeared more than your typical streamer who broadcasts mainly to children. To this day, he’s accused of being a Nazi, which has only gotten more ammo after he shouted out an Alt-Right YouTuber.


Without too much speculation, the odds that PewDiePie would shout him out knowing this element of his content are slim--especially because of the widely held belief by leftist Journo-activists that he’s some kind of Hitler acolyte. PewDiePie, in addressing the controversy, points that this channel was one of 28 that he shouted out, and then only for his anime reviews. An irony that he rightly points out is that if Nazi references are embedded in there, they went over his head because he’s not all too familiar with Nazi lore… being a non-Nazi and all.

The reason PewDiePie is so often maligned can’t just because of his run-of-mill internet antics that nobody in their right mind would think qualifies someone as a “nazi.” It entirely revolves around his success, identity, and the expectations that are attached to them. As a white male gamer, that identity already comes loaded with the preconception of an irreverent misogynist, and someone as white and male as PewDiePie is expected to prove just how much that isn’t him on an ongoing basis. By being a normal--even mild--representative of what that community looks like, he confirms the fever dreams of left wing fear mongers.

Another confirmation of this identity comes courtesy of PewDiePie’s response to Lilly Singh, the type of YouTuber YouTube is modeling itself after in this video. Lilly ridiculously claims that some form of discrimination is at play because all of the top-paid YouTubers were male, as though AdSense makes its decisions based on genitals rather than views. PewDiePie called that piece of whining out for what it was, and naturally reaped the whirlwind. It’s not enough to be apolitical--you have to actively and continually declare that you aren’t on the right to be embraced by YouTube’s mainstream.

YouTube’s end of the year video is about to become the most disliked video in YouTube history, in what is spokenly or unspokenly a clear rejection of this kind of politically-infused gobbledygook. Casual viewers many not know that a mist of political hostility surrounds PewDiePie, but they do know that the breakdown doesn’t reflect their users’ actual experience with the site. Left-wing outlets like AV, however, do know this quite well--which is why they celebrate the video by describing PewDiePie as a “racist piece of shit,” going on to baselessly claim that he’s the “favorite YouTuber of Nazis around the world.” You might think that title belongs to David Duke, but evidently Nazis have an unquenchable thirst for Fortnite streaming. It doesn’t help matters that the kind of people responsible for these videos as well as the administrative decisions of YouTube subscribe to this belief system. Is Susan Wojiski more likely to read outlets like AV and Slate or the Daily Wire? One more likely reflects the beliefs of her diversity officers than the other. In fact, it’s isn’t a stretch to say that many of these people are acting in bad faith and don’t really believe PewDiePie is a literal Nazi, but they do have the sense that he isn’t on the left. Or if he is, he doesn’t allow it to determine who he associates with, which is why he’s willing to make meme videos with, say, Ben Shapiro. That alone is all the confirmation that they need.

Most crippling is that who this video is being marketed to is a giant question mark. It can’t be kids, in spite of its colorful and cornily acted presentation, and it’s obviously not anyone who actually uses YouTube. It’s a meaningless reel of woke bloggers and traditional celebrities. The exclusion of anyone potentially off-color but legitimately popular and interesting is by design, and apart of YouTube’s effort to brush anyone tainted by accusations of unwoke dissent, fairly or unfairly, under the rug. The end product is a lifeless, drab piece of conformity.  

Christian O'Brien