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I mentioned to my partner last week that I had been listening to Joe Rogan’s interview with MrBeast. “Who’s MrBeast?” she, an adult woman, replied.
I’ve been in the weeds of digital media for long enough now that the idea of not knowing who MrBeast is feels quote utopian, like Rousseau’s noble savage. If you’ve been on YouTube at any point in the past few years, chances are you’ll have encountered Jimmy Donaldson a.k.a. MrBeast a.k.a.k.a. the biggest multi-channel broadcaster on YouTube. Whether it’s asking his friends to keep touching a car for as long as possible (last to move their hand wins the car) or trapping strangers on a desert island and then offering the aforementioned landmass as a prize to the victor, MrBeast has had a huge impact on the YouTube ecosystem. He has, essentially, brought the budgets and prize pools of top cable TV game shows to the YouTube format.
Anyhow, a few weeks ago, Donaldson was the guest on The Joe Rogan Experience. Long term readers of my blogs and newsletters will know that I am more than a little skeptical of Rogan, though, unlike many people, I can just about tolerate his interviewing style. Anyhow, I listened to the two-and-a-half-hour episode because I felt like there must be some instructive nuggets of digital media wisdom to be extracted from this powwow between two titans of new media. First, on MrBeast:
Even though his parents called him Jimmy, and I’m loathe to disrespect the Donaldson clan, I’m going to call him, throughout this piece, MrBeast. It’s a name that he adopted as a kid playing Xbox, and it’s the brand that now runs through all his enterprises, from his YouTube channels to things like Beast Philanthropy and the Beast…