Deyes video didn't just feed into cruel narratives about poverty. It revealed the emptiness of his—and his co-stars—cynical brand of internet fameby Caroline Crampton / June 19, 2018 / Leave a comment
We all have a place on the internet where we go when we need to switch off our brains for a while. Maybe you click through endless Wikipedia pages about defunct German principalities, or log onto a gaming livestream to stare at someone you don’t know playing Football Manager quite badly.
Personally, I head over to the site of the most banal set of pixels I know: the YouTube channel of 24-year-old Alfie Deyes.
I’m not the only one watching. Deyes has over four million subscribers on his “PointlessBlogVlogs” channel—it’s almost like he knows I think his work is eye-glazingly vapid—where he uploads a video almost every day documenting the minutiae of his life, and another seven million combined on his channels dedicated to gaming and lifestyle videos.
A million a year
He’s been posting videos of himself on the internet since 2009, and is also part of a wider network of extremely popular and influential online celebrities who do the same: his girlfriend is Zoe Sugg, who has nearly 17 million subscribers on her two “Zoella” channels, and his friends include Casper Lee (over 7 million subscribers) and Marcus Butler (over 6 million).
His videos—and the associated merchandise, sponsorships and book deals—have made Deyes extremely wealthy: he is estimated to be earning at least a million pounds a year.
Given this, it perhaps isn’t surprising that he has now attracted a backlash with a video about trying to live for a day on just £1.
It has since been removed from YouTube, but you can still see parts of it in other videos criticising Deyes for his insensitive statements about having to drink tap water rather than use his expensive filtration system, or for how his idea of saving money on food is to go into shops and receive free stuff because he’s famous.
Jewellery “didn’t count”
I watched the video when it first came out, mouth hanging open, as Deyes talked about how hard it was for him not to use his expensive coffee machine and how he’d actually bought some clothes and jewellery as well that day, but that “didn’t count” because it wasn’t food. Of course, there were lots of adverts in his…