YouTuber MrBeast defends himself after a video in which he said he was 'curing' 1,000 blind people divided viewers
YouTube star MrBeast posted a video about helping 1,000 blind people get eye surgery.
The video received a mixed response, as some people suggested the altruistic act was done for clout.
Donaldson responded to online criticism in a tweet two days after he posted the video.
MrBeast, the world's biggest YouTuber, responded to online criticism after a video where he paid for 1,000 people to access eye surgery sparked criticism among some viewers.
The YouTuber, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, uploaded the video on January 28, and it received 59 million views within three days.
"In this video, we're curing 1,000 people's blindness," Donaldson could be heard saying at the beginning of the video, as he stood in front of a large crowd.
Donaldson said he was arranging for people to get sight-restoring cataract surgery, and filmed the patients' reactions to seeing clearly again. The YouTuber interviewed Jeff Levenson, an ophthalmologist and surgeon he worked with, who said: "Half of all the blindness in the world is people who need a 10-minute surgery."
A subsequent Instagram post from a nonprofit organization SEE International, who Donaldson collaborated with on the project, stated that the organization conducted the 1,000 surgeries around the world over a three-week period for the video. According to the nonprofit MyVision.org, cataract surgery costs an average of $3,500 per eye.
Donaldson also gave away various prizes to participants in the video, including briefcases which he said contained $10,000 each, a Tesla, and a $50,000 cheque for one recipient to put towards a college fund.
The video initially received an overwhelmingly positive and emotional response. On January 30, Donaldson tweeted that he "did not expect" the upload to receive such a large number of views in a short time, receiving messages of support that praised him for his generosity.
"I don't think you can watch that video without crying. Hope it inspires more projects like this," wrote one commenter.
Not everyone viewed the video positively
As the video continued to circulate, some people voiced questions and concerns about the cost and inaccessibility of eye surgery. Most notably, political commentator and Twitch streamer Hasan Piker reacted to Donaldson's video in a January 29 livestream, saying that watching it filled him with "rage." He then alluded to the fact that many American citizens cannot afford surgeries due to their high cost or a lack of medical insurance.
"It is so extremely frustrating that it is up to one YouTube guy to decide to make content out of it when people who are too poor can't just fucking see," he added.
Piker's comments sparked a wider discussion on Twitter, where clips from the stream were reshared among some users who wrote that they thought people should not be turning to wealthy influencers to fix widespread societal problems.
—The Zatzman (@TheZatzman) January 29, 2023
Online comments grew more critical of Donaldson himself when one user, named @LolOverruled, tweeted screenshots from the YouTuber's video with a caption that read, "There is something so demonic about this and I can't even articulate what it is." The tweet went viral, receiving more than 4,700 quote tweets and 86,000 likes.
Several comments under the tweet accused Donaldson of paying for the surgeries as a way of gaining online clout and producing popular content, while other users said they thought the YouTuber had good intentions, pointing to the fact that Donaldson has previously said he reinvests all money made from the success of his channel into making more videos and on altruistic projects and giveaways to fans, rather than keeping the profits for himself
Donaldson defended his video, and many fans spoke in his support
On January 30, Donaldson tweeted about online criticism he was receiving, appearing to reference the online debate about how he handles his YouTube earnings.
—MrBeast (@MrBeast) January 30, 2023
"Twitter - Rich people should help others with their money. 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," the tweet read.
Several users and prominent influencers wrote messages of support underneath Donaldson's tweet, saying that they supported the YouTuber's charitable efforts.
Donaldson, who became the most-followed individual YouTube creator in November, has developed a reputation for posting altruistic videos that involve giving away large sums of money. He rose to fame in 2018 for viral videos where he donated thousands of dollars to small streamers, and in 2022, he gave away at least $3.2 million — plus a $2.5 million jet and a private island — in challenge prizes, according to all the YouTube videos he posted that year.
In 2020, Donaldson founded an organization called Beast Philanthropy, with the initial focus of distributing food to underserved regions around Donaldson's hometown of Greenville, North Carolina, but which has since launched humanitarian aid projects around the world. His charitable and elaborate giveaways featured in videos across his multiple channels have previously been received with overwhelming support and positivity.
Representatives for Jimmy Donaldson and Hasan Piker did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
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