THE MEMING OF LIFE

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - THE MEMING OF LIFE - SÉA­MAS O’REILLY

YouTube Pre­mium is at an odd im­passe at the mo­ment; the sub­scrip­tion video plat­form is, af­ter all, backed by an in­ter­net gi­ant so big that its name is a verb, so it could still kick on and be­come a Net­flix-slay­ing be­he­moth.

But it also hasn’t done this yet, and since it’s been try­ing for four years, this could mean it’s des­tined to go the way of the Sega Mega CD or Guin­ness Breo. Orig­i­nally listed as Mu­sic Key in 2014, and again as YouTube RED a year later, its launch as Pre­mium couldn’t dis­pel the un­mis­tak­able bang of that night­club in a ru­ral town that keeps chang­ing its name un­til it fi­nally closes, unloved, as a trag­i­cally beach-themed stu­dent bar.

So, in a fi­nal bid to pre­vent Pre­mium be­com­ing the we­b­video equiv­a­lent of Bondi Bar in Athlone, YouTube is mak­ing big moves to­wards longer-form re­cur­ring se­ries and one-off movies.

This push has de­liv­ered some success from projects like I’m Poppy, Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes On Tele­vi­sion and the dis­arm­ingly great Karate Kid spin-off, Co­bra Kai. And then, this week YouTube an­nounced a new plank in its arse­nal; a Lo­gan Paul-star­ring Hunger Games knock-off en­ti­tled, erm, The Thin­ning: New World Or­der. De­spite its ti­tle, the film is not about Paul’s straw­like thatch of scare­crow hair – zing! – but rather a dystopian fu­ture in which cit­i­zens are ruled by the almighty power of a manda­tory per­son­al­ity test.

Irre­deemably ter­ri­ble

This choice wasn’t merely con­tro­ver­sial be­cause of how irre­deemably ter­ri­ble it sounds, but be­cause the lantern-jawed merch nut was sup­posed to be black­listed from Pre­mium af­ter that time he filmed a dead body in a Ja­panese for­est at the end of last year.

One per­son who balked at the choice was PewDiePie, aka Felix Kjell­berg. Once the big­gest name in YouTube com­men­tary, the scream­ing Swede fell from grace when his gam­ing streams, en­joyed by a gar­gan­tuan fol­low­ing of chil­dren and teenagers, were shown to con­tain re­peated racial ep­i­thets and anti-semitic jokes. As a re­sult, his show Scare PewDiePie was can­celled by YouTube Pre­mium. Why, then, he ar­gues, does Paul get an­other huge boost from the plat­form, and not he?

“Maybe it’s be­cause I joked about Jews,” he said, show­ing clear signs of be­ing a man who has learned to atone for his be­hav­iour, “and that’s a more sen­si­tive topic than show­ing a dead body . . . I think that’s prob­a­bly what some peo­ple think at least”.

In the end, PewDiePie may be churl­ish to cry cen­sor­ship, since three days af­ter he posted the lat­est video com­plain­ing about Paul, it had been watched by the guts of 4 mil­lion peo­ple. Sadly, whether on vlog rants, or ab­jectly dis­mal Pre­mium dra­mas, it doesn’t seem like the in­ter­net’s in­ter­est in YouTube con­tro­ver­sial­ists is thin­ning at all.

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