“It doesn’t matter what you think. Life is not fair.” Out of all his responses to his critics, this was probably the harshest from Youtube megastar Pewdiepie. It was also probably the response with the most truth.
For those of you who don’t know Pewdiepie, he’s the number one content creator on Youtube and has a massive fanbase. He makes, if we’re honest here, infantile Let’s Play videos. These are Youtube videos of him playing video games, and his schtick usually involves him freaking out or saying stupid things while generally acting like a bit of an idiot. His work has a lot of appeal (particularly among the teen/tween market, with a surprisingly amount of female fans), and he recently clocked in at over 37 million subscribers. To put this into perspective, the next most popular Youtuber clocks in at just over 23 million subscribers.
Now you can probably tell I’m not exactly Pewdiepie’s biggest fan. I don’t particularly like his work for a number of reasons:
- Most of his humour is really childish
- A lot of his appeal is due to his looks
- The work he does (editing, sound, recording, etc), while requiring a lot of hours to put together, is not particularly difficult to do (to paraphrase something the producer says in Pitch Perfect 2, just about anyone with a laptop and a decent webcam can do what he does)
- Like many other (Internet) successes, he was simply in the right place at the right time
However, I don’t hate the guy. There is some stuff about him to like:
- Some of his videos are genuinely funny
- He does a lot of charity work
- He knows a lot of what he does is dumb
- He occasionally drops the persona and he becomes immediately more likeable for anyone over the age of 25
But regardless of my opinion of Pewdiepie, he’s got a lot of haters online. These people crawled out of the woodwork recently when his total earnings for 2014 (in the region of $7 million) was published online.
In response, he released a video discussing the subject of money and his work, as well as responding to a few of the people who are sending negative vibes his way. It’s only six and a half minutes, so rather than me paraphrasing the whole thing for context, you can check it out below.
As you can tell from the title of this post, there was one comment from Pewdiepie that stuck with me. He responded to someone who pointed out that there are funnier people than him who deserve the money more he does:
“It doesn’t really matter what you think. Life is not fair. It just is how it is.”
The first thought to run through my mind was “Woah! I can’t believe he said that!”
Followed by, “Well, that’s pretty much the truth”.
As much as I would love to rant about how my life would have been different if I’d been born in just about any country with a decent animation industry, as opposed to the tiny town of Pietermaritzburg, I won’t. I will however, say this in response to the comment about other people being more deserving of a higher pay cheque:
Talent and hard work don’t necessarily mean that you’re going to be successful. As Pewdiepie so eloquently put it, “Life is not fair”.
After I moved to Cape Town, I ended up meeting a lot of creative folk. In my attempts to get my work into the hands of the right people, or doing development programs, or just meeting others through my interest in art, I got to meet a lot of artists and writers. Some were good. Some were bad.
The weird thing?
Not all the great artists and writers were earning a living as artists and writers. A lot of them had additional sources of income to help pay the bills. To make this matter even worse, I occasionally met people who were barely average at what they did, but they somehow had jobs at studios and production houses!
Life is not fair!
Another piece of evidence is how often I stumble across people online who are insanely good at what they do, and yet nobody knows who they are.
Again, life is not fair!
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying to you talent and hard work won’t get you jobs, but for many people, that’s all they’ll be. Very few people get to pursue their passion, and those that do are the lucky ones. And just to slap you in the face, sometimes there will be people like Pewdiepie who won’t be amazing at what they do, but they’ll earn more in a year than you will in your entire life.
And one more time: life is not fair…
Ok, we get it. Life doesn’t care. So we should just give up?
In all my years trying to “make it”, I’ve read a lot of advice on becoming successful. The one piece of advice that does seem to be pretty consistent from successful people has less to do with how talented or hard working you are, but more to do with consistency and just sticking with something. I remember listening to an Adam Hughes interview once (I’m pretty sure it’s this one) and he talks about how not long after he turned thirty, people started respecting him. He jokingly says that he didn’t do anything, that he was producing the same kind of work, but people’s perception of him changed. He laughed as he said “It was like I reached tenure”.
So remember people, regardless of how good or bad you are at something, life is not fair. But if you want to be successful at something, just stick with it. After all, a person who gives up something they love has zero chance of succeeding at it, while a person who keeps at it, even if they’re terrible, still has a better chance than the person who quit.
Update: If you have any doubt about my closing statement, just take a look at the (inexplicable) success of the Fifty Shades books.