Why PewDiePie Is My New Guilty Pleasure

Why PewDiePie Is My New Guilty Pleasure

Here is a story from my childhood that I will never forget.

It’s 1995. I’m sitting on the toilet, about to partake in the kind of activity one normally takes part in when they sit on a toilet. From the corner of my eye I spot something strange, something that doesn’t belong. I look closer. I squint. A CD? Hidden behind the toilet? What the hell is a CD doing lodged behind the toilet?

I reach over and pick it up. The album in question: ‘Steam’ by East 17.


I recognised the album. It belonged to my younger brother who, for some reason, despite being in his early teens sort of liked East 17 enough to actually buy their album. Later that night I asked him why he decided to lodge his copy of ‘Steam’ behind our toilet. I was genuinely confused and curious.

He looked sheepish.

“Um… uh…”

He was looking for a way to escape the question. I pressed the issue. Eventually he spilled the beans.

“I uh… had some friends over and I wanted to hide the album alright!”

LOL. I’m sorry for using the word ‘LOL’ in an article, but it seems appropriate here. I’ve been telling and re-telling this story for years now.

But here’s the thing: my brother was a smooth motherfucker in high school, he was way cooler than me. But he had a reputation to uphold and there were no lengths he wouldn’t go to in order to protect that reputation. That’s why there was a copy of ‘Steam’ by East 17 hidden behind our toilet for a couple of hours.

Point being: we all have our guilty pleasures.

I have a new guilty pleasure. That guilty pleasure is PewDiePie.

I hate that phrase: ‘guilty pleasure’. I hate it because personal taste is personal taste. People should never be ashamed of the media they consume or the things they like. Feeling guilty about liking something is an elitist, snobby thing to do. It signifies that you are above something: not just the media in question, but those who enjoy it guilt-free.

But yeah, this is PewDiePie we’re talking about and it’s pretty difficult for me to admit that I’m slowly, surely, weirdly becoming a fan of something so many people actively, vehemently dislike. Sometimes I enjoy that whole contrarian thing, sometimes I relish it. But with PewDiePie it feels like a betrayal of all that is right with the world.

What the hell is wrong with me?

Well, I’d like to think there is nothing wrong with me. Therefore I’m going to try and explain why I’m sorta slowly starting to become a fan of PewDiePie. Here goes…

To begin with, I think PewDiePie is an interesting person to watch do things. He has the charisma of that annoying, excitable kid in school who is always trying to be loud and funny — its the class clown thing. PewDiePie feels like the kind of human you’d never want to be stuck alone with, but as part of a group? If PewDiePie is there everyone is having more fun. He is the focal point of that group, he is the reason why everyone is laughing. When he is around, he is the person you are watching. When PewDiePie is around we’re all Milhouse Van Houten: “Guys look, Bart’s doing stuff“.

Because PewDiePie is difficult not to watch. He has that energy. I have a lot of friends like this in real life. Some find them unbearably obnoxious, but I’ve always entranced by that kind of personality — people who have no shame whatsoever, who don’t feel embarrassment, who are at ease with themselves to the point where they don’t give a single solitary fuck what anyone else thinks. It’s beautiful, it’s liberating and — in a lot of ways — it’s something to aspire to: that kind of clean inner contentment where you can scream, shout, and generally make a complete idiot of yourself. That’s PewDiePie. He’s one of those people. I admire those people.

Also, PewDiePie is funny. At least I think he’s funny. His comic timing is good. His slightly broken English, his ability to say the right swear word at the right time, the pace and editing of his videos. His occasional lapses into Swedish when shit gets real. He is funny. I find myself watching PewDiePie and laughing out loud. Legit. I can’t help myself.

And then there are those weird moments when PewDiePie breaks character. Like a modern day Slurms Mackenzie, like a wrestler breaking Kayfabe. I remember one particular moment.

PewDiePie is playing Dark Souls. He suffers an unexpected death. Instead of squealing and swearing like a stuck pig he slouches. He becomes a normal human being. He grimaces, puts his head in his hands, mumbles something in Swedish. You can feel his frustration instead of just being entertained by it. It lasts for a second. He puts his mask back on. He snaps on the spandex. For the shortest period of time PewDiePie feels like someone you could almost relate to. For a split second he’s Felix Kjellberg. It’s fleeting. Before you recognise it he’s PewDiePie again. He’s screaming and you watch with a new appreciation. For his performance, for his ability to maintain this manic energy, for the foresight to harness his charisma and pour it into this convenient monetisable YouTube shaped bottle.

PewDiePie is annoying, he’s loud, he’s utterly pointless, but so many things are. I can’t stop watching him. He’s my guilty pleasure. He’s an East 17 album lodged behind my toilet. Please don’t tell my friends.


  • I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. You either like something or you don’t, to my way of thinking.

    So while I may think the individual in question is utterly intolerable, you should fly your fan flag high and to hell with what I or anybody else may think.

  • I still don’t understand all the hate he seems to get. I’ve only watched a couple of videos and found them quite entertaining. I don’t spend a lot of time on YouTube so I can’t watching him becoming a regular thing, but yeah. I thought he was fun to watch. He seems to interact with his audience a lot too.

      • Apparently it was to stop spam and advertising bots. I’m sure real people played just as much of a role, but nothing to be gained by saying so.

        Besides, he has a separate forum set up for his fans anyway. Which is the smarter option, because 99.99% of all YouTube commentary is just worthless abuse, vitriol, trolling, etc. Least this way it can be properly moderated and kept reasonable for fans, especially since a lot of his fanbase are younger people.

      • Not sure what that has to with him personally though. People spout the most hateful stuff about him and aim it at him in a personal way, like they actually hate him and want him to die, and that I don’t get that.

        Disclaimer: I’ve watched a couple of those montage videos, and thought they were a bit funny, but that’s about it.

  • I started off hating pewdiepie, I seen him as a YouTube try hard just trying to get views. I now however appreciate that he exists. Everytime I search for a walkthrough or gameplay video for a game I’m thinking about buying, he is there. It kinda feels like you’re watching a crazy friend playing a game.

  • My wife takes some pride in the fact she was subscribed to Pewdiepie since before he had one million subs.

    I like him. I don’t think he deserves the hate. He goes a little over the top with the shouting sometimes but he knows what his fans are tuning in for. His style has made him “cool to hate” but I frankly think that’s more out of jealouy than anything else.

    I don’t know how well known the comic “our valued customers” is, but it’s these people who started making quick one-shot comics out of stuff they overheard in comic stores, and back when the Ben Affleck/Batman announcment his peak internet freakout there was one that went (based on a girl chastising her boyfriend):

    “Are you mad that Ben Affleck gets to be Batman, or are you mad that YOU don’t get to be Batman?”

    I apply this logic to people who hate anything popular. Most of us don’t have the charisma or perseverence to do what Pewdiepie does despite him making it look super easy, so instead we bitch and moan about the millions of dollars he’s allegedly raking in to be an idiot on the internet – and by extension, his millions of fans that make that kind of revenue possible.


    • I think the jealous of celebrities thing is a different issue. With the Batman example, a lot of people LIKE certain actors. Like they might say Michael Keaton is the best Batman; he’s a celebrity, they’re not bad that he was Batman. They’re mad because they have high expectations for their superhero and they want him given the best portrayal. It’s a bit like Tony Abbott for PM. Are you mad because he’s PM, or because YOU’RE not PM? =)

      • Abbott’s decision making affects me in ways I can’t passively ignore, whereas Ben Affleck being a spectacularly bad Batman (even if that happens) doesn’t really affect me in the slightest because I have the decision not to watch – like I have with George Lucas’ destruction of Star Wars which I once held very dear.

        Besides which, I think I would make a much better PM than Abbott – though that isn’t saying much, because I believe a turnip could do a better job of running the country than Abbott, and probably be a more compelling public speaker.

      • What the hell kind of question is that?

        I’m mad because Abbott is a 1950’s stereotype who decided to sell our whole country to his close friends and is constantly fighting to make all of our lives worse.

        And because he is PM.

      • My marketing team might have gone slightly overboard with the Facebook likes but you can’t necessarily prove I’m not extremely popular with 18-35 year old males in Delhi.

  • Really good article. Pewdiepie is entertaining and interesting… he definitely doesn’t deserve the hate. I think he deserves the success… and isn’t as dis-likeable as someone like Bieber.

    • In a world full of douchebags pewdiefag is definately up there… at least Douche Bieber has “talent” for a dropkick…

  • Eh, I used to watch his stuff everynow and then. Last time I tried to watching his stuff regurlarly, I couldn’t get used to the shrieking and rape jokes so I’d stopped. Not my cup of tea, but he’s one of the biggest channels on youtube, so he’s got to be hitting the mark with the majority of people watching.

    You should give Markiplier a try if you’re looking into a new lets player to watch. Dude’s awesome

    • I subscribe to PDP and Markiplier – both are great. Mark once said my name in one of his videos (reading credits from a GameJam game.) Totally made me internet famous. But anyway, what makes me most happy about PDP is that the King of Youtube, out of all the possibilities, turns out to be a crazy, young, independent, Swedish, gamer dude. Not music, or news, or some popular film star – just a random gamer! It’s brilliant.

      • I will admit he’s done really well and I’m pretty sure the fame hasn’t gone to his head. That said I haven’t watched any of his stuff in the last year or so

  • He is just getting too much attention and famous because he is exactly what a typical American gamer is. I guess because he is being himself rather than a fake personality that attracts people? I still dislike him for who he is so never gonna watch a pewdiepie video. I’d rather watch a seal raping penguin.

  • I hate him out of envy. Pure and simple. SUCH ENVY.
    (And he’s intolerable to watch, but that’s solved by, y’know… not watching. It’s just the knowledge of his multi-million dollar goofball existence which fuels the envy-rage.)

  • I’ve never actually watched a Pewdiepie video but I know that he really irritates me although I think it’s more that I hate his fans (present company excluded), or the image presented by his fans and I’m conflating that with the guy himself. I’ll still never watch anything of his because I really can’t stand people (persona or no) that have to be loud and constantly funny.

  • His actual let’s plays are very entertaining to watch, he’s a different person when he’s invested in the game he’s playing e.g. The Walking Dead. The random videos are here and there for me but personally, his proper and serious playthroughs are my favourite part of his channel. His videos of Dark Souls 2 is great and Corpse Party are my favourite ones this year 🙂 Plus he gives a little review at the end which is always sweet to watch!

  • Legitimate question… does the guy in any of his videos ever say anything witty or clever?

    Whenever I tried to watch one it seemed to just be a a lot of obnoxious screaming, shouting and swearing.

  • I will say this – videos he does with his overly cutesy girlfriend make me spew up rainbow coloured spew in my mouth…

  • When he did the Surgeon Simulator video and went ‘TOMHAWK CHOP!!!’ while chopping he blokes head off I was in tears laughing.

  • You should have told you brother with regards to hiding the album


  • I like Jack SepticEye and FrankieonPCin1080p… and those two british loons who play BF4… ChaboyyHD

  • The fact that people feel like they have to either a) hide the fact that they enjoy PewDiePie or b) have to work to justify themselves for enjoying PewDiePie….annoys the absolute living shit out of me. People give others shit for watching his videos, but then people give others shit for watching any Let’s Play videos, and then other people give all of us shit for spending our spare time playing video games.

    People should just think about not being such dick-pains in regards to what other peoples tastes are and let them enjoy what they want eh?

  • I’ve always liked this guy. I personally find him hilarious. But that;s also because he reminds me of my own alter-ego at some points. And everyone knows how fucking annoying I am.
    Haters gunna hate, yo.

  • Wasnt a fan at first, but over the years hes grown up and become more. . . sensible? (for lack of a better word) and his videos have become more watchable.

  • The reason why I dislike him, he’s caused many other youtubers to follow what he does in a try hard fashion. Now every horror game reviewer does nothing but scream, every normal game reviewer does nothing but make weird voices and noises, its just changed a lot of people.

  • There is room in my life/heart for the Pewds, Totalbiscuit, Jesse Cox, Dodger/PressHeartToContinue, Inside Gaming and It’sameFigaRo at least. Plus Rooster Teeth and their Achievement Hunter boys too.

    • I love Pewdiepie and his personality. He’s extremely funny and I feel comfortable watching his videos with friends and by myself. He is not at all a guilty pleasure for me, but I can understand that he is a guilty pleasure for some people.

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