As you may know, there was recently some debate surrounding PewDiePie and a controversial joke he made in one of his videos. Whether you were for or against the ‘joke’, there’s no denying that it became a small flashpoint for fans.
While covering the story, I came across something interesting, that turned out to be far more widespread than I had anticipated.
There were numerous PewDiePie fans commenting that they were “disappointed” that Felix had made this video. But in response, other fans would jump in and say that they must “hate PewDiePie”; and that they can’t be a fan if they didn’t like that video. It was an assertion that you’re only a true fan of someone if you never disagree with them. But the thing is – that’s just not true.
You can dislike an action and still like the person.
YouTubers are people; they are imperfect and make mistakes just like the rest of us. So while that doesn’t mean that their mistakes should be instantly forgiven, it also doesn’t necessarily mean they should never be forgiven. In an ideal world, if a creator makes a mistake, they will be self-aware enough to admit it and rectify it. For example: Markiplier, someone who is very clearly not a homophobe, was recently accused of being homophobic; But he demonstrated through his later actions, in raising thousands for a LGBTQ+ charity, that this was clearly not the case. After this, he and his fandom were able to happily move forward.
It becomes more grey when a YouTuber makes a misstep (or what you personally perceive as a misstep) and is unapologetic. It then becomes a matter of your personal conscience and choice, as to whether you support them. PewDiePie has insisted that he wasn’t trying to promote a hate message; but has not apologised for displaying the message. It is then up to you to decide whether you remain a fan and disagree with that action, or agree with him, or just stop being a fan. But the point is, none are necessarily the correct option. You have to weigh it up and decide for yourself.
Are there exceptions? Of course there are.
There are, as with anything in life, exceptions to this rule. There are some actions that creators can take that mean that it becomes impossible for certain people to be able to support them any more. For example, we found that many of you responded to JonTron’s recent controversial opposition of The Women’s March, by saying that you could never watch him again. Even more extreme, when a YouTuber does something truly shocking, it is expected that even the most hardcore of their fandom will turn away from them.
What I’m ultimately trying to say here is that YouTubers, like any public figure, should be held up to your own personal standards; and if you feel that they have crossed a line, you don’t ‘owe’ it to them to overlook it or be okay with it, if it is not okay for you. By the same token, if you can disagree with a certain action but make your peace with still being a fan, then go for it; and don’t let anyone accuse you of not being a ‘real’ fan.