Internet Vengeance, Schadenfreude, and Bad Bosses


I don’t know about you, but I’ve had some really scummy, abusive bosses: I’ve had a producer scream with specks of spit flying at my face, slamming a door so loud it could be heard down the office block. I’ve been harassed on the job by men reeking of liquor. I’ve been called arrogant by a filmmaker for asking to be paid $15 an hour, rather than groveling for a paycheck even smaller than Texas’s measly $7.25/hour minimum.

It’s maddening to be taken advantage of, abused, and belittled by horrible people—but especially by horrible bosses. And so this week, the news that members of Lizzo’s dance squad are speaking up about allegations of fat shaming and sexual misconduct, and that millionaire tycoon/alleged bad boss MrBeast is being countersued for $100 million by a business partner over the collapse of his dining empire, I’m feeling a desire for bittersweet retribution.

Those videos of violent racists in the Alabama riverboat brawl video getting slammed over the head with glorious folding chairs just feel right. God bless the creator of this TikTok filter. And it is righteous, a sliver of justice served in a storm of unheard and unavenged injustices. Unfortunately, this country’s judicial system is deeply corrupted, and real justice—let alone reparations—is miles and miles away. But at least for now, thanks to TikTok, we can relish in a little sweet, sweet poetic justice. Someone get that white folding chair into the Smithsonian. Cue this iconic remix of “Try That In A Small Town.” 

It feels really, really good to get this little bit of justice served online, but it seems on the flip side, some ruthless capitalists have tapped into humanity’s thirst for Schadenfreude and turned it into profit.

Creators like MrBeast cosplay “suffering” for views, imitating extreme conditions: in Antarctica, in the middle of the desert, encased in ice, and (rather insensitively) in solitary confinement. This week, he’s orchestrated being stranded at sea—munching on rations of Feastables bars and canned chili—in a video that broke YouTube’s world records for the most views on a non-music video in 24 hours. 

Something about these masochistic escapades make MrBeast seem relatable to a large audience of everyday people. Seeing him suffer brings us, mere mortals, down to his level. It makes him seem less like a Zuckerberg-esque reptilian or a flesh incarnation of the Monopoly man

“No, no,” fans say, “MrBeast is Jimmy, a humble human being, a philanthropic giver that’s more than the millions and millions of dollars he makes off advertising and Feastables sales.” And his shield of feigned humility is working well—no one seems to remember was accused by 11 people of creating a toxic work environment, yelling at and belittling his underlings—even if he does have to be drenched in seawater in order to maintain it.


Why Do We Love to Watch MrBeast Suffer?


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