The Internet has provided an outlet to display and bring recognition to talented groups and individuals exploring the possibilities brought about by the advent of streaming video—particularly on YouTube.
But for every quality piece of Web programming it has given us, the Internet has also surfaced a substantial amount of subpar oddities (I hesitate to even label them productions) to flourish and become inexplicably successful. PewDiePie and the culture surrounding him unfortunately falls into that category.
My initial instinct is to say that there's got to be something to it, given the 12 million subscribers to the PewDiePie channel (in Lady Gagesque fashion he's named his fans his "Army of Bros"), not to mention the 2.2 billion views he's generated. But despite my best efforts to understand what Internet gold mine this prolific Swedish vlogger has uncovered, I'm still, for the most part, baffled.
My one moment of quasi clarity came when I took a late-night study break from cramming on densitometry and watched his video Punch Me in Da Dick. That clip consisted of PewDiePie (real name Felix Kjellberg) playing a strange game about a WiFi-obsessed dog while commenting on it. Ironically, Kjellberg's comments seemed to be voicing some of the exhaustion-addled thoughts I was having concerning not only the game he was playing (it was indeed strange) but also the video I was watching of him playing the game. Very unintentionally meta. I almost laughed once. But I'm not sure whether that came from the ridiculousness I was watching or something actually approaching humor created by the content.
Some of the other videos I sat through (randomly selected from PewDiePie's channel so as to provide an accurate cross-section of this phenomenon) were riddled with poop and sex jokes and intermittent shouting at the video games he was playing. One of them was titled Diarrhea Makes You Fly. (Yes. You read that correctly.)
That video was chosen purely based on the name, and yes, it pretty much turned out to be an accurate description of what was happening in the game he was playing. Sure, there's an audience for that (I'm a firm believer that there is an audience for everything). And being a relatively nongamer woman in her mid-20s, I can safely say that I'm not this kind of programming's target audience.
There are myriad ways one can waste time, procrastinate or let off some steam via Web video, and PewDiePie is certainly an option if that's your cup of tea. But it is my opinion that you should stick to something, well, more classically satisfactory.
Five minutes of watching Maru the cat (who's also big on YouTube) trying to get into a tiny box just seems like an infinitely better way to delay studying than sitting through the nonsensical commentary provided by PewDiePie on a strange 3-D rendering of SpongeBob SquarePants getting a lapdance—in what seems to be a first-person shooter game.