Mo’ money, mo’ problems, as they say. Well, not for Jimmy Donaldson, aka MrBeast, whose dozens of spending sprees ranging from philanthropic to frivolous to downright ridiculous have earned him over 100 million subscribers and well over 10 billion views.
A native of North Carolina, Donaldson has gained notoreity for using his wealth both to help those in need and to pull off the most ridiculous challenges you can think of. These include: buying a $60,000 pizza and spending 24 hours in a doomsday bunker, among other things. Basically, if your child has wanted to try a particular challenge, MrBeast has probably already done it.
Since starting his channel in 2012, Donaldson’s outrageous campaigns have launched him to YouTube stardom and spawned the creation of multiple other channels, including MrBeast Gaming, Beast Philanthropy and MrBeast Shorts.
While his videos ocassionally use immature and crude humor and showcase some don’t-try-this-at-home stunts, when compared to other channels of similar fame and size, MrBeast’s is more family friendly. It also models some valuable lessons about the importance of generosity and helping those in need, although not from a biblical motivation. To quote Donaldson himself as he watches a woman break down in tears in the SUV he’s given her, “Moments like this are exactly why I love giving away stuff. Watching it warms my heart.”
It isn’t difficult to see why MrBeast has become so popular among young people: His positivity and constant optimism is infectious, and it’s hard not to smile watching him joke around with his friends.
A number of MrBeast’s videos feature his charity work, such as donating 175,000 meals to a food bank and partnering with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant 20,000,000 trees. The majority of those whom Donaldson helps are ordinary people, from a delivery truck driver to a cashier at a toy store.
The channel also brings awareness to issues such as homelessness and poverty; it informs viewers how they can help, all while maintaining a fun and humorous atmosphere. Overall, themes of friendship, teamwork, and generosity are prevalent throughout MrBeast’s content.
While Donaldson does use his wealth in many positive ways, he also uses it for pranks and challenges that feature him throwing his money away to a ridiculous extent. For the most part, these pranks are fairly harmless (such as one where he fills his friend’s backyard with 1,000,000 Orbeez), although they occasionally include mild destruction, such as setting off small explosives or lighting various objects on fire. These enormous spending sprees could also foster an attitude of consumerism and recklessness in young children.
Language is sparse, and almost always censored, although misuses of God’s name and mild expletives such as “freaking” and “sucks” do sometimes appear. Crude and immature jokes, including references to urinals and male genitalia, also turn up. One video, in which Donaldson attempts to spend 50 hours buried in a pod underground, shows one of his friends simulating urinating on his “grave.” Donaldson and his friends also insult each other by saying things such as, “You suck!” and calling each other “idiots,” though this is always done jokingly.
Knives and baseball bats appear every now and then, usually to aid in mildly destructive actions.
Finally, as with most YouTube stars, the majority of the videos end with a request for viewers to buy the channel’s merch, again playing into the theme of consumerism.
At its best, MrBeast’s YouTube channel is a fun and entertaining way to inspire kids and teenagers to use what they have to benefit those in need. At its worst, the channel glorifies frivolous spending and behavior that tows the line between mildly destructive and downright dangerous.
Parents should be aware of the influence Donaldson’s lifestyle may be having on impressionable young viewers, as well as the crude content that’s sometimes used for the sake of humor.
Lauren Cook is serving as a 2021 summer intern for the Parenting and Youth department at Focus on the Family. She is studying film and screenwriting at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. You can get her talking for hours about anything from Star Wars to her family to how Inception was the best movie of the 2010s. But more than anything, she’s passionate about showing how every form of art in some way reflects the Gospel. Coffee is a close second.