I have long been fascinated by mega-YouTuber Jimmy ‘Mr. Beast ‘Donaldson, who is 23 and richer than God.
There is something always fascinating about all of the YouTubers who are at the top of the content tree, because they really create and recreate their own worlds, turning the entertainment into something that has never really been before. – watch Logan Paul, who first featured The Ascension-and-grind prank-video-everyday-and-sell-merch-about-state of mind, then got canceled for accidentally filming footage of a corpse, then gone for a month, came back with a little less more heartfelt fluffy haircut, muttered something about how he would ‘do better’ and now he’s got the one of the biggest podcasts in the world and boxed Floyd Mayweather Jr for around $ 20 million.
But Mr. Beast is especially fascinating, as he does it while having a mustache and not even being particularly charismatic about it. I can’t stop watching.
Mr. Beast first gained viral notoriety by playing whatever YouTube’s algorithm was at the time – one of his first hits was a one-day video where he counted to 100,000 – then turned to what I can only describe as “stunt philanthropy” ie giving a homeless person $ 10,000 and watching them sob gratefully in front of the camera, or gift a homeless person family on a limitless journey to save Christmas around Best Buy. Obviously I can’t fault the guy who gives money to the needy no matter how cutesy and calculated he is, so you see how Mr. Beast puts me in an absolute headache.
This week Mr. Beast – one of the few YouTubers, like Mark Rober, who are full stars that they can drop videos as they please, rather than having to scramble content to feed the algorithmic beast every day or two – launched his popular version of Netflix’s Squid Game, where he… well, he just did Squid Game.
No one died, obviously – instead, the first contestants were given $ 2,000 for being out early. The sets were faithfully recreated from the Netflix show and each participant wore a costume true to the series. The $ 456,000 price tag was provided by an app that I dutifully downloaded after Jimmy advertised halfway through the video.
And the video was good: although there was absolutely no talk that Squid Game was a nine-hour critique of the inner workings of capitalism and that Mr. Beast’s videos often only give people away. people between one and ten thousand dollars in exchange for humiliating themselves trying to win a car (the video ended with Donaldson saying, “Shout out to the creator of Squid Game!”), the latest game of musical chairs for a cash prize of half a million dollars was really exciting. But… he just did Squid Game. I do not understand. Netflix made Squid Game. And then Mr. Beast… just did Squid Game. There is no trick.
That wouldn’t have been worked out if it hadn’t been for a soon-deleted tweet this week from Jon Youshaei, one of those “creator and advisor,” too in the NFT that exists, praising Mr. Beast for having so brazenly wrested the original idea.
“Video. @ MrBeast Squid Games: 103 million views in 4 days,” Youshaei wrote. “It took 7 weeks to do. @Netflix Squid Games series: 111 million views in 30 days. It took 10 years (!!) to do it. More views, less time, less guardians. This is the promise of the creative economy.
I know, I know – I can’t believe copying someone else’s idea wholesale took less time and money than creating the original content in the first place. However, that’s part of the problem: yes, we have a new generation of internet-only megastars with the power and finances to create any content they love. But sadly, after years of creating videos purely to please an algorithm rather than an audience, they really have nothing new to say. What happens when Mr. Beast has no more Netflix shows to remake? How many times can he still buy a car from someone in need?
This week’s Squid Game video was, without a doubt, a huge success. But that portends a further IP shortage, which could change the way YouTubers create videos again.
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