In the latest MrBeast video from YouTube juggernaut Jimmy Donaldson, he tasks 10 contestants to get past the “World’s Deadliest Laser Maze.” They duck and dive into an environment perfect for hyperactive cats on a space station, while Donaldson jokes, “It’s not CGI, this is 100% real.” I think most people watching can understand that he’s not being serious here, that the contestants aren’t standing in fake gravity or actually turning into clouds of dust upon elimination.
But the line between what’s real or not in Donaldson’s videos got a little hazier this week after 14.5 million subscriber YouTuber Rosanna Pansino accused Donaldson on Thursday of deceptive editing in his 2021 “Creator Games” video. The game of large-scale hide-and-seek viewers saw had Larray in first, Zach King in second, and Logan Paul in third.
On Thursday’s edition of Trisha Paytas’ podcast, and later elaborated on a now-deleted X post, Pansino stated that she actually earned that third place spot. She claimed all of the contestants in the MrBeast video competed with in-ear walkie-talkies, so she knew what number she placed. Quackity, a Minecraft YouTuber who competed, said on his stream after the original video premiered that he had actually placed in second place.
“I placed third, Quackity placed second, and Zach placed first. This is what actually happened,” she wrote in the deleted post on X. “Despite Jimmy editing out the ONLY FEMALE in the top three, I was proud of what I had achieved.”
Over the weekend, Pansino would post her messages with Donaldson, and go on the h3 Podcast, all while defending herself against the hordes online who felt the need to defend the besmirched honor of their Feastables overlord. On X, Pansino and MrBeast’s names would trend with thousands of comments while internet drama channels spewed venom, with Daniel “Keemstar” Keem calling her a “psychopath” and Hunter saying, “This just undermines legitimate cases of mistreatment and sexism.”
Eventually, the noise became too much and Pansino relented and apologized to MrBeast on X. She then deleted all posts about the Creator Games, admitting that this probably should have been handled privately. “I will be honest in that the thousands of death threats I’ve received today are a contributing factor, but I do also sincerely hear the feedback from so many of you,” Pansino wrote.
The relentless harassment Pansino faced, however, distracted from an important ethical debate for creators. As a creator online, being perceived as genuine is one of the most important things you can be. Of the hundreds of influencers I’ve spoken with and interviewed over the past decade, they’ve all believed that part of the key to success is to be believable to your audience and not come off as a fake shill.
Because of this, viewers have become used to smelling out inauthentic creators, and those we trust are assumed to be sincere in their content. Donaldson has built up a massive empire based on the lengths he’s willing to go to create “genuine” content for his fans. In his early days, he really counted to 100,000, watched a Jake Paul music video for 10 hours, and read the entire “Bee Movie” script, showcasing his work with hours-long videos on his channel.
But as his content, and his team, grew, the billion-dollar yacht-infested waters have only gotten murkier. His latest videos have had their scope raised, alongside their CGI budget with videos faking a gold-plated Carnival Cruise ship (calling it a yacht to fit the video theme), and even engulfing homes in tsunamis or nukes to make a video more engaging.
MrBeast is known for embellishing his videos with flashy transitions, click-bait-y thumbnails, and high-stakes titles. But this sort of skewing of reality isn’t just cosmetic. In the MrBeast video “1,000 Blind People See For The First Time,” he pays for Phacoemulsification, a type of surgery that can only help people with certain kinds of blindness caused by cataracts.
Pete Gustin, a TikToker with 740,000 followers who suffers from a currently incurable blindness, said in a video released after Donaldson’s that the “title of his video is causing a lot of confusion” and that “now that MrBeast’s video has confused everyone into thinking that blindness is already cured, fundraising efforts are going to be hampered greatly.”
At the end of the run time, a YouTube video is just another form of entertainment. But because we’ve spent years believing what we see online as genuine, it’s become harder to discern fact from fiction. As creators and viewers, it’s important to question the content we consume online and assume that there is some form of editing trickery afoot.
You can’t trust anybody online, especially the Beast.
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