“It’s not about the money, money, money…” says YouTube star PewDiePie after earning $7.4m in 2014.
And, if we were being totally honest, it isn’t. I don’t begrudge him a single penny of his mahoosive earnings, mainly because he walked hard and built up his persona and channel so deserves it.
Am I jealous, no (well, ok, just a little bit), but it seems plenty of people are as he has faced online criticism since The earnings were published in a financial filing in Sweden by his company PewDie Productions and reported on news site Expressen.
The PewDiePie channel was the most popular on YouTube in 2014 with more than 4bn video views, ending the year with more than 33 million subscribers.
However, as the story circulated, so the hate started to build, especially on Facebook, and Felix ‘PewDiePie’ Kjellberg was spurned onto making a YouTube video (what else) called “Let’s Talk About Money” to address the criticism.
“Money is a topic that I have purposefully tried to avoid for the five years that I’ve been making videos, because I just feel like it’s not important to anyone,” said the 25-year-old.
“The fact that I could make videos was so much more important to me than [that] I had to spend a few hours a day doing a job that wasn’t that prestigious,” he said, reminding fans that he used to work on a hot-dog stand to fund his early YouTube days.
“I knew people were big at other types of videos, but there was no one big in gaming, and I didn’t know you could make money out of it. It was never like a career that I could just quit college to pursue. it was just something I loved to do. And here we are five years later and it’s exploded.”
Kjellberg even read out and responded to some of the more critical Facebook comments, while taking the unprecedented step of defending the work he puts in to his channel. Which, if you didn’t know, focuses on “Let’s Play” videos playing through games while commentating on them.
“A lot of people which I saw were very very angry. They thought it was unfair. They thought I just sit on my ass all day, and I just yell at the screen over here. Which is true! But there’s so much more to it than that,” he said.
“I understand that haters are gonna hate, alright? But I really think that money doesn’t make you happy. I am just as happy as I am now, as I was five years ago … To see so many people being upset about this whole thing, it’s sad. It’s such a waste.”
Kjellberg is also justifiably upset that his charitable fundraising attracts less coverage than his earnings, having raised money for the likes of Save the Children and Charity:Water, as his popularity has grown on YouTube.
“It seems like the whole world cares more about how much money I make than I do myself. We did raise a million dollars for charity, and very few articles picked up on that, but here it is everywhere how much money I make,” he said.
“I don’t think there’s any good reason why anyone should care, and on top of that I don’t think there’s any good reason why I should care either, so we’re just going to end it there.”
Let us just remember that media has changed in the last few years, and for Kjellberg this is his job, his business, and he has built it up. People generally don’t begrudge film or music stars for their money and earnings, so while pour the hate on PewDiePie?