Casey Neistat Draws Firestorm for Challenging YouTubers to Endorse Clinton
We cover Casey Neistat’s cool stunts on this site all the time. With this being election season, we also cover politics pretty much every day; though our coverage definitely has an angle, we’ve so far stopped short of actually endorsing anyone.
If Neistat’s latest video is any guide, this makes us part of the problem.
In a recent video, the popular creator endorses Hillary Clinton for President and calls out Donald Trump’s alarming flaws. That’s his right, no problem there. But his endorsement itself isn’t what’s getting so much attention — rather, it’s his insistence that fellow creators join him in his endorsement or be labeled as “complicit” in getting Trump elected.
“There is something much more valuable than subscribers or dollars, and that’s backbone,” says Neistat. “If this guy gets elected and you stood back with your arms folded and didn’t speak out against him, it makes you complicit.”
There’s a couple of issues here. First of all, as Philip DeFranco points out, Trump is badly behind in the polls, meaning there’s likely nothing to be “complicit” about. Further, the audience for the popular YouTubers Neistat calls out in his video is largely either 1. too young to vote, 2. not American, 3. unlikely to consider a YouTuber’s opinion on the matter.
British YouTuber KSI pointed out the drawback of Neistat making such a blanket statement about YouTubers in this video, in which he explains that he couldn’t possibly vote in the election:
The second issue is that Neistat urges YouTubers’ followers to bug them until they speak out against Trump. YouTubers like Boogie2988 have called this a “mistake”; others have argued that this constitutes an “incitement of harassment,” which violates YouTube’s Terms of Service. (We wouldn’t go that far; getting a bunch of Twitter mentions asking who you’re voting for is more annoying than harassing.)
What do we think? We think Neistat had noble intentions in the wake of all the genuinely upsetting headlines Trump has generated, and was just trying to get on the right side of history. But he may not have thought this through all the way. When he calls out “popular YouTubers,” who does he mean? PewDiePie? He’s Swedish, his audience is mostly too young to vote, and his channel is mostly about video games. As YouTubers like ProtoMario have pointed out: where would a political endorsement fit into that?
Obviously, PewDiePie is just one example, and there are plenty of YouTube creators who could conceivably rise to Neistat’s challenge. So far, though, this challenge seems to be backfiring.
What do you think? Do creators have a responsibility to speak out about Trump, or does Neistat’s challenge fall flat? Let us know in the comments below or @WhatsTrending on Twitter.