Perhaps for older viewers, unaccustomed to candidly seeing themselves as figures in someone else’s spreadsheet, the wedding charity strategy that goes hand in hand with growing viewership may be a well , may look tedious. But Donaldson’s younger fans have mostly grown up on his YouTube. Some, like Jeremiah Howard, have been watching his videos since pre-adolescence. They are familiar with the platform business and revenue structure. This is because much of the content on YouTube is related to these topics, and also because many of them are self-made amateur YouTubers. (When I asked Howard what he was going to do with the $50,000 check given to him by Donaldson, he said he was thinking of using it to start his family’s YouTube channel, FLBOYRHINO.) Despite being a vast new engine of wealth and commerce for people like Howard’s adjoining Internet, Mr. Beast, who can only participate on the fringes, imbues the role with a sense of purpose and how Howard has learned. As such, it provides a channel for redistribution that otherwise cannot occur. To them, he seems original, not ethically compromised.
In May, months after “1,000 Blind People See It for the First Time,” Donaldson released a new video called “1,000 Deaf People Hear It for the First Time.” If you’ve seen “1,000 Blind People,” you can imagine the continuation and video thumbnails without watching. You can imagine the controversy that accompanies it. It’s a sparring between die-hard MrBeast fans and nasty critics. To them, the video is dumb, shallow, disgusting, and diabolical.
At least to the extent that I wish someone with Donaldson’s platform and resources (and obvious desire to help people) would pay more attention to society’s structural problems, I am also aware of these issues. I admit to agreeing with some of the critics of About the American health care system and everyday injustices against people with disabilities. But I also see how this kind of criticism misunderstands what the MrBeast channel is and how it works. Donaldson, who started the flywheel, can only keep the flywheel spinning from here. If he deviates even slightly, the perpetual motion of his growth machine could be threatened. (Imagine when you were 12 years old. Would you like to see an explanation of private equity aggregation for primary care practices?)
Watching his videos shows that Donaldson’s flair for YouTube traffic is won by a fundamentally decent and moral person, rather than the neurotic reactionaries and discontent this site seems to attract. There were times when I was glad that I was. But Donaldson’s research on YouTube success shows that while politeness, morality and generosity, when properly calibrated, can be very successful traits for a YouTuber, under current platform rules , It would have also shown that resentment and violation can only reach the limit. Donaldson, at least like any other individual, can exploit his YouTube for his own benefit, but it also shows that the limitations of his project are essentially the limitations of his YouTube itself. It means that there is
Perhaps this is fine for Donaldson. Donaldson is driven not by his narcissistic desire for fame or fortune on the one hand, or purely charitable impulses on the other, but by the very same adolescent impulses that shape his videos. It looks like go? How big will this get? how many zeros?
Max Read is a journalist and screenwriter whose work has appeared in New York Magazine, The New York Times Magazine and Book Forum. His newsletter and guide to the future is “Read Max”.