10/20/2017 Update: In the two years that have passed since I originally wrote this, PewDiePie has... gone off the rails, let's say. To be clear, much of his conduct as of late is wholly unacceptable, and any defenses along the lines of "it was just satire" or "he was just caught up in the moment" don't fly. Given the size of his platform, one can only hope that he takes some time to reflect on the criticism he's received and make a genuine effort to change.
"PewDiePie" is arguably the most successful and influential producer of video content on the internet. His channel has more subscribers than any other channel (take THAT, Rihanna), and he is reported to have earned over $7 million in revenue last year. As for the actual content of his videos, he mostly provides commentary and the like while recording himself playing video games.
I've somehow never seen a single one of his videos before today. This is especially odd given the large amount of time that I already spend both playing video games and watching other people play them. PewDiePie has a bad reputation in some enthusiast gaming circles for not doing much more than yelling and making wacky faces, however, and no one in my own social circle has ever brought him up. But hey, I'm a cynical jerk that works in the advertising industry, so I might as well endeavor to understand how he appeals to that sweet target demo of "apparently all young people."
Here are some scattered thoughts on three of his videos::
1) A Funny Montage: People weren't kidding about the yelling! This montage video shuffled through clips of him freaking out while playing a variety of games. In addition to referring to himself as "Pewds" and his subscribers as "the bros," he also screamed that he was "on his period." To mix things up, there were also little vignettes featuring some of his antics away from the computer screen (including, but not limited to, his own Harlem Shake). Loud quacks accompanied every transition.
2) WORLDS MOST OFFENSIVE GAME? PewDiePie plays a game of Cards Against Humanity with his girlfriend, "CutiePieMarzia," who has a wildly successful YouTube channel of her own. Cards Against Humanity is something that I'm very familiar with, and they did a good job of getting into the anarchic spirit of the game. This made for a less abrasive watch than the montage video, but it was still edited at a frantic pace. PewDiePie spent much of the video speaking in a vaguely South Park-esque accent and I'm not sure why.
3) PewDiePie Reacts To: Elders React To: PewDiePie: Since I'm writing up my reactions to these videos, this is getting into some uncomfortably meta territory. This was five minutes of PewDiePie crackin' wise about the comments that a random group of elderly people made about his own videos. There was a mildly insightful moment here where "Pewds" defended the validity of watching someone else play a game by noting that people watch others play games all of the time in the form of professional sports. Other than that... more voices and yelling?
Nothing that I watched here was too terrible. He clearly pours a lot of time and energy into his videos, given how edited they appear to be, and he has established a strong rapport with "the bros." He also seems to bring a lot of attention to smaller-scale games, which surely must help out a handful of development studios. I would even go as far to say that it's pretty cool that he's been able to make as much money as he has on YouTube; it's pretty rare for people to be able to make a viable career out of being an independent entertainer, particularly in this medium. With all of that said, I don't see myself coming back for more. Hooray for being an out-of-touch-mid-20's guy!