It really is true that no good deed goes unpunished. The biggest YouTuber in the world, Mr. Beast, just did an amazing act of charity that he cataloged in a viral video — and some people on the internet are actually angry at him over it.
Mr. Beast used his massive resources to engage in an eight-month-long project through which he built 100 wells in Africa , which he says will provide clean drinking water to roughly half a million people in Kenya , Cameroon, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Somalia. His efforts were greatly appreciated, as evidenced by the clips of people in the affected towns celebrating and thanking him profusely, after showing how polluted and unhealthy the drinking water they had access to really was.
The response to Mr. Beast’s charitable act and documentary video has been mostly positive, with the video receiving 67 million views in just four days and lots of positive feedback. But because the internet is the internet, some people had to find reasons to get angry at Mr. Beast for his philanthropy.
One Twitter activist named Albert Nat Hyde decried Mr. Beast’s video as a form of “disrespect to Africans,” arguing that “Africans do not need water donation; we ain’t that poor and thirsty” and that “this is capitalism; he wanna low-key use these countries for profit.”
“America is part of the problem,” a Kenyan political activist named Francis Gaitho said in a fiery video rant that has since been viewed more than 1 million times. “And you, Mr. Beast, are not supposed to be coming here to validate some of these long-held stereotypes that Africa is poor.”
“We no longer need philanthropy,” the activist continued. “We don’t need you in exchange for views — because you are still going to recover all your money from the views on the social media platforms — now you’re going to leave a lasting image about Kenya. No, we are not a poor country.”
Gaitho further argued that viewers should “ask for an audit of amount spent vs. amount generated from social media monetization” and concluded that Mr. Beast’s whole video was a “charade” that reveals his “[nonexistent] moral sensibilities as he chases views for his white audiences.”
Liberal media outlets such as Yahoo News and CNN echoed this silly narrative, with Yahoo reporting that “activists say his actions shamed the Kenyan government and helped perpetuate the stereotype that Africa is ‘dependent on handouts.’”
Washington Post columnist Taylor Lorenz accused Mr. Beast of having “received extremely light criticism in the past for the way you’ve monetized ‘kindness’ content that some vulnerable people found to be exploitative.”
There are two main “arguments” here, although that might be giving them too much credit.
The first is that Africa doesn’t need charity. While there is certainly a broader, nuanced conversation to be had about the systemic problems holding back progress in Africa and whether some forms of Western charity are counterproductive, it’s still just generally untrue as a matter of objective facts and statistics to claim that it doesn’t have a poverty problem.
Yet it’s also obviously untrue in the specific situations Mr. Beast was involved in — because many of the places he built these wells did not previously have clean drinking water. If he were doing something unnecessary, the actual beneficiaries wouldn’t have been so incredibly grateful.
In the same vein, if Mr. Beast’s actions “shamed the Kenyan government,” that’s actually a good thing. Kenya’s government is quite corrupt , and if so many of its people don’t have access to clean drinking water, it’s not doing its most basic job.
The other critique seems to be that, like a typical evil capitalist, Mr. Beast is going to make money off his video. The horror!
But they never actually bother to explain what’s wrong with that or who is harmed by it. The people he helped are better off. Millions of viewers get enjoyable content. And Mr. Beast makes money, some of which he uses to reinvest in his next charitable project. It’s a win-win-win.
Yes, that’s a form of “capitalism,” but it’s actually an example of the best aspects of capitalism, showing how voluntary exchanges can lift all boats and leave all parties better off.
There was also a racial element to the online backlash, with many YouTube and X, formerly Twitter, commenters dubbing Mr. Beast a “white savior.”
“Overnight, this person comes along, who happens to be a white male figure with a huge platform, and all of a sudden, he gets all of the attention,” one activist told CNN.
She wasn’t the only one. TikTokers actually decried Mr. Beast’s “palm-colored” face and his “white savior propaganda.”
This line of argument is so vile and obviously racist that it hardly seems worth engaging with. It should go without saying that the morality of Mr. Beast’s charitable actions exists independently from the pigment of his skin. If a black person did the same thing he did, it wouldn’t somehow be any more benevolent (or sinister). And many of these people castigating Mr. Beast from disturbed corners of the internet might be black, but they’ve done nothing to help African people compared to the YouTuber they’re so passionately condemning. (This is not his first video featuring charitable efforts in Africa.)
Thankfully, Mr. Beast doesn’t seem to care about the backlash he’s getting. On Nov. 4, ahead of this video’s release, he tweeted , “I already know I’m gonna get canceled because I uploaded a video helping people, and to be 100% clear, I don’t care. I’m always going to use my channel to help people and try to inspire my audience to do the same.”
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