In the wake of incidents involving immensely popular YouTubers PewDiePie and Jon “Jontron” Jafari, yet another gaming personality has faced what at first appeared to be fallout from offensive or politically incorrect remarks. The issue with the term “fallout” is that once the media headlines and associated dust has settled, you realize that unless “fallout” is code for “overwhelming love, validation, and support” from fans, then the reality of several supposed downfalls may actually be just the opposite. This has certainly proven to be the case today for Colin Moriarty.
Formerly of IGN, Moriarty formed Kinda Funny with fellow expats and developed, over several years, a substantial following of over 400,000 YouTube subscribers (across two channels) and approximately $47k in monthly income via dual Patreon accounts. This is presumably divided between all Kinda Funny members, in addition to operation costs, and the venture has largely been seen as a success. Total revenue rises further thanks to Twitch tips and other sources.
As time passed it became clear Moriarty’s political leanings differed from the rest of the Kinda Funny cast, and despite being a channel about games, a heated election season and its aftermath made such differences difficult to quell or contain. This all boiled over in a tweet Moriarty sent in jest on International Women’s Day, driving controversy to new heights and spurring mainstream internet media to again hoist its character-busting weaponry, most notably IBTimes headline calling Moriarty “racist.” The headline, though still critical, was later adjusted.
Regardless of your opinion on Moriarty’s behavior, what’s very apparent is the self-described “outpouring of support” he’s received since his Kinda Funny departure. Of course, stating such as fact in a tweet is easy. But today Moriarty’s listeners, viewers, and fans put their money where his mouth is.
In less than a single day (just a few hours, in fact), Colin’s new venture “Colin’s Last Stand” has amassed over $20k in monthly support on Patreon. The sum is still growing, and though it may be too soon to predict a final figure, it’s feasible that Moriarty’s solo effort will rival the totals achieved by Kinda Funny's main Patreon to date. Money isn’t everything, but it does tell us something. I saw the headlines, so did you; why would the public support an alleged sexist in such large numbers?
Well, this is where mental dissonance forces a choice to be made, and it can tell you a lot about your own worldview. Regardless of where you stand, it’s clear Moriarty’s fans take more stock in their own judgment of character than the media’s (both written and social), and are just fine channeling their dollars toward someone they’ve known to be a stand-up guy for over a decade, recent revelations be damned.
The beauty of crowdfunding is its honesty; if you agree with IBTimes, that’s your choice, and your stance is a valid one. If you reckon Colin is just as much of a “normal dude” as he’s traditionally been, doesn’t harbour secret bigotry, and intends to produce great content well into the future, well, you’re probably one of his Patreon donors. Like with most things, voting with your wallet is the best course of action.
Moriarty’s success slaps a clear exclamation point on a recent politicized gaming trend; coordinated media and Twitter character assassinations, deserved or not, are ineffective in 2017. Fans don’t like being told what to think about the objects or their affection, and when it’s tried, they respond with support twice as fierce. Despite being called anti-semitic by The Wall Street Journal and others, PewDiePie has seen incredible backup from peers as well as continued tremendous subscriber growth since (he now sits just above 54 million subscribers). Meanwhile, though “Jontron” lost 10,000 subs after controversial comments, the same amount and then-some have since been recovered.
Trying political times undoubtedly make being a web personality (or even a fan) more difficult than usual, but if there’s one thing humans don’t enjoy and historically never have, it’s being controlled or told what to do. If kids and teens rally behind YouTuber gags that some find offensive, it’s generally not because the youth as a whole has been nefariously co-opted by the “far-right.” Instead, said enthusiasm is fueled by rebellion against the prior generation. If mom and dad say “son/daughter, I want you staying away from that PewDiePie character, he’s bad news,” then surely PewDiePie’s channel will be the first site visited the moment said teenager’s phone leaves his or her pocket.
Moriarty’s venture “Colin’s Last Stand” was named, I’m guessing, in honor of the rebirth and self-discovery he’s currently experiencing. What he may not also realize is that there’s another last stand taking place: the last stand of outrage culture. If being vilified by the media and Twitter no longer leads to public embarrassment and slow career death but instead support, adoration, and $20k a month in income, then please, sign me up immediately. Forget politics; it’s clear that candid speech, however controversial, is currently a smart business decision.