Jimmy “MrBeast” Donaldson, the wildly popular YouTuber known for his ambitious videos and generous prize giveaways, has sparked backlash on Twitter after asking his fans for a favor.
MrBeast isn’t particularly controversial (especially for a big-name YouTuber), but he has been attracting criticism lately, as the internet began to notice something “off” about his vibes.
A recent video in which MrBeast “cures the blind” by funding a simple medical procedure famously led to a Twitter user describing his content as “demonic,” sparking a heated debate.
Who is MrBeast?
At 24 years-old, MrBeast has managed to thrive inside YouTube’s algorithm by organizing high-budget pranks and challenges that frame him as an absurdly generous philanthropist, a wacky game show host who, on a whim, might just hand a contestant a wad of cash, the keys to a Tesla, or maybe a mansion.
MrBeast has taken steps to expand his brand beyond YouTube; in 2022, MrBeast unveiled his own line of chocolate bars, “Feastables,” which he promoted by randomly distributing golden tickets inside the wrappers. Then, he invited the winners to compete for prizes inside a stunning recreation of Willy Wonka’s factory, chocolate waterfall and all.
After being judged by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, the overall winner walked away with the deed to the factory, which MrBeast instantly bought back for an eye-watering $500,000, after explaining how difficult and costly the factory would be to maintain.
The Willy Wonka video is a perfect encapsulation of MrBeast’s content, featuring novel challenges, escalating stakes, and most importantly, a perfect promotion for Feastables, as well as the YouTuber himself, who hosted the event dressed as Willy Wonka; the video currently boasts 168 million views.
Why the backlash?
The most recent backlash to MrBeast came on Twitter, after MrBeast took the unusual step of reaching out to his fandom and asking them to freshen up any untidy Feastables display they see in supermarkets.
In a follow-up comment, MrBeast joked that fans should specifically move aside Hershey’s bars to make room for his display. This was notable as Hershey’s most recent ad campaign (celebrating International Women’s Day) attracted a hateful response and calls to boycott, as right-wing culture warriors objected to the presence of a trans woman in the campaign.
MrBeast eventually deleted the Hershey’s tweet.
On the same day, the official Feastables Twitter account replied to MrBeast’s tweet, confirming that the clean-up would become a contest with a $5,000 cash prize.
Generally, MrBeast’s fanbase reacted positively to his perfectionism, and snapped photos of themselves fixing his displays, hoping to win the cash prize. Others pushed back, outright mocking the request, or pointing out that many of MrBeast’s fans are children.
Many observed that this marked a strange new era of parasocial relationships to content creators, in which fans were willing to do far more than simply “like and subscribe.”
Under MrBeast’s post, one Twitter user wrote:
“It’s fascinating to watch the stage of capitalism where people are honored to do free labor for rich people that don’t care about them because they feel some kind of connection and loyalty like a dog wanting a treat, only the treat is an imagined feeling of connection.”
“I’m totally going to mess with this guy’s stuff if I see it on the shelves,” another replied.
Many started to satirize the dedication of the fanbase, pretending to kidnap and torture hapless customers who disturbed Feastables displays.
MrBeast ended up joining in on the meme and commenting on many of the posts.
MrBeast seems to have hacked capitalism itself, a celebrity entrepreneur and master self-promoter who makes Kim Kardashian look like an amateur; the man has cultivated a dedicated fanbase who earnestly believe that he is making the world a better place, and are willing to help him in his mission.
Even if it means fixing a display in a supermarket they don’t work for, to promote a product they don’t own.