Felix Kjellberg, AKA PewDiePie is no stranger to controversy, and unsurprisingly he’s once again got himself embroiled in some online beef for no reason, it seems, other than he just can’t help himself. But this time it’s not the derogatory language that’s shocking, but who he’s decided to come for – the good Samaritan of YouTube, Dhar Mann.
For those who are unfamiliar, Dhar Mann is a US-based self-made millionaire, entrepreneur and founder of LiveGlam who has a side hustle on the video-sharing platform posting and directing short skits that carry a moral message. His channel is dedicated to encouraging viewers to be kind and to “not judge a book by its cover”. Are they the most profound and artistic videos? No, not at all. They all follow a basic format, storyline and dialogue that’s so obvious it’s almost comical. Yet, it works in making the lesson more accessible and easy to understand; judging from the millions of views and subscribers that Dhar Mann has, it’s paying off.
But then PewDiePie had to get involved. Back in April 2021 he uploaded a video reacting to one Dhar Mann had made with the message that “Being shy is a superpower”, and of course the Sweden-born gamer took issue with everything from the message itself and viewers comments to the PS5 giveaway at the beginning. But the biggest problem he had was how this man, who makes cringey videos, gets so many views. He hated it.
Of course Dhar Mann hit back at the problematic vlogger with a love-filled video. In it the enthusiastic filmmaker is seen helping a young actor struggling to deal with hateful comments by revealing that he too also receives hate, before proceeding to show the boy and the audience a direct clip from PewDiePie’s video. There’s no better revenge against a man who finds your videos lame than to make him part of said videos. Well played, Dhar Mann, well played.
Then at the beginning of this month PewDiePie finally responded. And his reaction was in some ways surprising. Despite previously mocking the sounds of the actors and spelling Dhar Mann’s name wrong, PewDiePie tried to take the high road, insisting that he was only delivering fair criticism, and that the entreprenur in fact held back. He seemed disappointed in the story, but concluded the “critique” stating he bears no “ill will towards” Mann and is “not trying to cause tea”.
In all of PewDiePie’s existence, amongst all the racist, anti-semetic, sexist comments he’s made, he rarely apologises; usually he makes light of the scenario and jokes about it. Only once did he make a “proper” apology video after he said a racial slur back in 2017, although it’s difficult to take any apology seriously if the perpetrator continues to make the same mistakes.
But there’s something in this particular beef about the way he tries to come across as a sensible and wise film critic instead of just being like “hey it’s all a joke” (his usual go-to retort). Perhaps he was moved by Mann’s skit, or maybe he was humbled by the fact that Mann’s video got more views and likes than both of his videos combined, proving that in this case there’s more people standing behind Dhar Mann. Could this be the start of a new era for PewDiePie? One where he thinks before he speaks? Who knows, but oh it’s so nice to see how the tables have turned.
By Lucinda Diamond, deputy editor of CORQ. Picture credit: PewDiePie via Instagram