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Mr. Beast: The Dark Side of Meritocracy



The best video possible! On MrBeast and meritocracy.
New channel for YouTube Shorts: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfDc_d-4FCM2gwIqAzThTPA

Featuring Tiffany Ferguson as Jo Littler (https://www.youtube.com/tiffanyferg)

Follow me on TikTok: https://tiktok.com/@theletterfifteen
Twitter: http://twitter.com/letterfifteen
Patreon: http://patreon.com/theletterfifteen

Further reading/viewing:
—”Against Meritocracy” by Jo Littler* (https://bookshop.org/a/14437/9781138889552)
—”Subjectivity in Art” by CJ the X (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPrNWuppMcc)
—”The Tyranny of Merit” by Michael Sandel* (https://bookshop.org/a/14437/9781250800060)
—”24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep” by Jonathan Crary, if you’re interested in the implications of MrBeast’s lucid dreaming* (https://bookshop.org/a/14437/9781781683101)
—”MrBeast: Capitalism & Philanthropy” by Then & Now (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svHCXvQeZfY)
—”MrBeast Spends Millions on Expensive Gimmicks” by Tiffany Ferguson (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdaG7Nx6ImE)
*I receive a 10% commission for books purchased through the provided bookshop.org affiliate links

Video essay created by Théo Evans

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47 thoughts on “Mr. Beast: The Dark Side of Meritocracy”

  1. Man i get it too, im extremely jealous of others. Ive done nothing but work hard and all its given me is chronic depression and anxiety, plus the realization that im autistic..so the struggles will never go away. Ive wished a thousand times and more to have the ability to 'rise n grind' but i cant. Then I see tons of others both around my age (mid-late 20s) and younger doing better, WAY better. Some even being disabled as well, and its like dude what the fuck

  2. i know subs aren't a measure of worth at all but i am still floored that you dont have more than you do. You're extremely insightful and funny! Whether you put out a vid every 2 months or year or whatever it's always fun to watch them 🙂 thank you!!

  3. Did you get tifferg to read the quotes? Look at u go ☺️
    Also thank you for articulating what always bothered me about mr beast – for me its less to do with meritocracy and probably more of the money flashing emptiness of his content but that comes from a place of snobbiness in me🙃

  4. Success on YouTube at least used to be a lot about doing the right thing at the right time. I can't help but think of all those small channels i watched that appeared during the storytime animation boom. Somehow so many young people who can draw were able to be successful quickly because they all had a similar format and editing style to Jaden animations or domics. If you were in the art community around 2016-2019 you probably remember this time well.

  5. i feel blessed never to have seen a single second of that man's content. thank you, me, for being so constantly late to the hype i simply don't even care by the time i get to the point where i consider watching hyped content, thus ending up not watching it

  6. hell yeah new theletterfifteen video baybee

    I get genuinely excited when you upload and you're one of my favorite creators. I just wanted to tell you that the work you put into your research and your jokes really shows

  7. The idea of meritocracy has always been a little bit silly to me – like Mr. Beast is fine, but do I believe that he works 142,000x harder than me? Not really. I also don't believe that Elon Musk works 4 million times harder than me. If the metric of success is only in quantifiable metrics then it is impossible to believe that any of this success is dependent only on hard work because it is not possible for any one person to work that hard.

    Sometimes it's generational wealth, sometimes it's being able to take risks because you aren't responsible for other people, sometimes it's fitting to conventional white beauty standards, sometimes it is just knowing the right person – but I don't think emulating someone who is successful will necessarily bring about success.

  8. Views don't automatically make a video great – it's the content itself. Some indcredibly impressive videos I've watched have had 1000-2000 views max. Does that make them bad? No – absolutely not. Yet low quality clickbait prank videos get millions of views yet are still mediocre at best.

  9. i wouldn’t call myself a mr. beast fan either, but i’m not sure if he’s obligated to care about pushing this idea of a meritocracy which, as you said, is fundamentally built on inequality. i really don’t see a problem with his success story focused on the algorithm. i feel like most adults that want to be like him know that his strategy is focused on churning out the most views. and i don’t necessarily think it’s harmful if kids do buy into the idea of merit begetting a successful youtube channel. idk i see where you’re coming from definitely but i’m not convinced that it really matters

  10. Why do you think Mr Beast thinks he's better than you? I would assume he doesn't think about you at all.

    I liked the video, but the bitterness made it a hard watch. Which is a shame because I do think you bring up some interesting stuff about meritocracy that perhaps more people should think about.

  11. Honestly I see Mr Beast as like this apex predator existing in the jungle of YouTube. He has honed all his instincts and mind to achieve the highest results possible and there is beauty in seeing someone like that trying their hardest. Its much higher effort than I'd ever devote to YouTube, and thats fine. They are more of a valuable YouTuber than me, in my eyes and the eyes of YouTube the business itself. If you were to be hugely successful in youtube, you'd honestly have a few adaptive traits that Mr Beast has. Maybe you can carve out your own niche where the rules are inverted, but in general I think he is like a Shark. Singleminded and while constantly adapting, their mindset is ultimately static, the end of the process of evolution to adapt to something.

    I hate to be the one to tell you this, but even in a communist utopia, people will be better at things than others. We shouldn't punish people who are mathematically on the bottom tier of everything, the important thing is you try your best and yes your best may in fact be completely bad, but its still worthwhile to act in ernest. Meritocracy would enforce that ideal. You only feel the need to tear others down because it works, if it didn't work, people would just stop doing it. And thats the type of meritocratic society I'd want. A society where people are truely free to try their best with no racism or class constraining you. Ideally even no physical limitations in becoming as good at something as possible through transhumanism. I also think people only truly help others when they try their best.

  12. I used to really want to become a youtuber until I realized how the platform actually works. Mr Beast is a perfect representation of everything I resent about youtube. I don't see how his life is fulfilling in any way, even if he has a massive following. Living and creating for the purpose of keeping people on a video. The man needs to go outside and chill

  13. this is too good!! That point about the lack of humanity / emotional investment is spot on. That’s a component that bothers me most — but who cares what we think bc mr beast’s videos are obviously the best ever 💖

  14. I actually appreciate you uploading shorts on a different channel! Thank you for taking into account the comfort of your viewers. (Wish YouTube would do that itself…)

  15. Something about youtube clicked for me, personally, when I realized that gunnarolla wasn't able to be a full time content creator despite being one of the most recognizable personalities on the platform at the time. It doesn't mean it's not worth doing but it definitely re-contextualized something for me. Another great video!

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