Prominent YouTuber slammed for ableism after an act of charity cured blindness
The outrage industry is a lucrative business.
You can launch a career as an activist by expressing outrage on social media.
You don't even have to step out of the house, like in the old days, and engage in staged protests or tokenism by posing with the "persecuted."
Social media posts will do it.
All you need is the right hashtags, such as #BLM, and flags such as the rainbow LGBT+ banner, or perhaps the Ukraine flag. You must assiduously follow groupthink. A photo of George Floyd is mandatory.
If nothing works, you can resort to expletives to gain attention. If questioned, you can claim that the circumstances of any "persecuted" group are so outrageous that polite words are not sufficient.
The con works.
You could become a social media influencer, and maybe there will be opportunities beyond social media.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and climate activist Greta Thunberg are two examples of how it can become a lucrative career.
Now YouTube sensation MrBeast, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, is the highest-earning creator on the platform with a record-breaking 136 million subscribers.
MrBeast is an anomaly to the trend of the self-centered social media influencer.
His repertoire includes videos about planting trees, or cleaning the world's dirtiest beaches; there are adventures and social experiments. But most importantly, he uses his reach to perform acts of charity. All of it is presented in good humor. Most of his videos receive more than 100 million views.
But the outrage brigade is now targeting MrBeast.
What did he do?
Did he say something racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, or Islamophobic?
Did he attack a person from a minority group?
Did he say something vile?
To quote British prime minister Margaret Thatcher: "No. No. No."
Those targeting him accused him of ableism, which is defined as discrimination in favor of able-bodied people.
Did MrBeast mock or attack the disabled?
Did he discriminate against the disabled?
All he did was post a video where he revealed that he had helped treat 1,000 people, including young children, with blindness and poor vision.
You would think the one helping others overcome a disability would be lauded by all?
On social media, the act was branded as "charity porn."
more free nationalized healthcare— The FLESH ART Of Asty 🏳️🌈 (@TheArtOfAsty) January 31, 2023
less charity porn from the ultra rich
It was called "demonic."
There is something so demonic about this and I can’t even articulate what it is pic.twitter.com/OSpgaUxnQK— Lolo (@LolOverruled) January 29, 2023
It was also called exploitative, and MrBeast overall was slammed.
Mr Beast has been making exploitative content for awhile now. I have no idea why people are suddenly talking about it. He uses vulnerable and desperate people for content. I'm glad 1000 people can now see. Doesn't make him a good person for making that happen— Athena (@DeliciousBoogs) January 31, 2023
Buzzfeed's Kelsey Weekman said there was a "huge problem" with the video because "it seems to regard disability as something that needs to be solved."
USA Today's Jenna Ryu branded it as "performative altruism."
The Daily Caller writer Julian Adorney refers to Is Everyone Really Equal?, written by Robin DiAngelo (of White Fragility fame), and Özlem Sensoy. The authors refer to a hypothetical doctor who asks a disabled person, "We have the technology. Why suffer unnecessarily? This question is branded as ableist for attempting to erase the humanity of the individual by endeavoring to cure their disability."
Steve Aquino, who has multiple disabilities, writes that "the biggest problem with wanting to 'cure' blindness is that it reinforces a moral superiority of sorts by those without disabilities over those who are disabled."
Aquino slammed MrBeast's video as "systemic ableism on display," implying that "disabilities should be eradicated — cured."
Aquino also called the video inspiration porn, "meant to portray abled people as the selfless heroes waging war against the diabolical villain known as a disability."
How Aquino inferred this from an act of generosity is impossible to know. Aquino's perspective probably says more about him than MrBeast.
Aquino also claims that his disability is part of his identity and that he wouldn't want to change it, and the disabled need people who see them as real people.
In the interest of empathy, Aquino must respect those who want to fix their disability.
What is more amazing is that this obviously perverse viewpoint found a publisher.
I’m still plenty pissed about this. I’m a blind person—you’re telling me my existence is somehow less than and pitiful because I can’t see (well)?— Steven Aquino (he/him) (@steven_aquino) January 29, 2023
This is your problem, abled friends: you keep conflating altruism with ableism and we get “let’s cure people” like you’re Jesus.
Alas, these are not just a few trolls targeting a YouTuber.
When Democrat Senate candidate John Fetterman suffered a stroke, it caused mental and physical disabilities. Those who talked about Fetterman's disabilities were slammed as ableist.
Fetterman won his Senate election last November. Just weeks after being sworn in, he was hospitalized. Fetterman recently checked himself into the hospital for "clinical depression." The man is unfit for the job, yet voters were denied key information.
The same can be said about Joe Biden's obvious disabilities that were suppressed during the 2020 presidential elections.
So let's take a billion steps back from this insanity and state the obvious.
All people with disabilities deserve to be treated with respect. People with permanent disabilities deserve empathy, not pity.
Disabled persons must never be discriminated against in any way. However, if the nature of their disability prevents them from participating in certain activities, it isn't discrimination.
For instance, wheelchair-bound individuals will not qualify to participate in a 100m sprint at the Olympics, nor will most able-bodied individuals. This isn't an act of discrimination, but the nature of the contest.
However, if a wheelchair-bound individual who is good at chess is prevented from participating in a chess championship because of his physical disability, it is discrimination.
Yes, a disability becomes part of one's identity because it alters the life experience. But every shortcoming must not be normalized by calling it an identity. Otherwise, there will be a day when people identify as lazy and refuse to report to work and will demand to be paid.
If a surgical process or medication or a new invention can help cure or overcome a disability and the individual desires that cure, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.
Now for the most obvious of obvious facts.
Wanting to help people overcome a disability is an act of kindness and not a demonization of their disability.
Back to MrBeast, who has given away millions of dollars to charity since becoming a sensation in 2017.
MrBeast's business model works as follows.
He makes videos of charitable endeavors, which helps him to reap profits via views on his content. A portion of this profit is once again used for charity, which becomes his content. The cycle continues. This is commendable.
MrBeast via his videos is also promoting the spirit of charity. Since most content consumers on YouTube are young people, MrBeast once again must be lauded. Even if a small percentage of his viewers emulate him in a small way, it is a huge achievement.
MrBeast isn't exploiting the less fortunate, but helping them. All of the videos he makes are obviously consented to, and so are the procedures for which he pays.
The video on the question that generated controversy is particularly uplifting. It has patients and caretakers overjoyed after overcoming a disability.
Once upon a time, MrBeast would have been universally celebrated.
But we live in times of absolute insanity.
MrBeast reacted to the controversy as follows:
I don’t understand why curable blindness is a thing. Why don’t governments step in and help? Even if you’re thinking purely from a financial standpoint it’s hard to see how they don’t roi on taxes from people being able to work again.— MrBeast (@MrBeast) January 30, 2023
Twitter - Rich people should help others with their money— MrBeast (@MrBeast) January 30, 2023
Me - Okay, I’ll use my money to help people and I promise to give away all my money before I die. Every single penny.
Twitter - MrBeast bad
Image: Leon Lush on YouTube, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons, unaltered.