Alfie's Deye of 'Poverty' | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Alfie’s Deye of ‘Poverty’

Comment Editor Amelia Hiller discusses Alfie Deyes' mistake and the responsibility YouTubers have to educate their fanbases

After watching a few of Alfie Deyes’ YouTube videos, I can confirm that it really is a Pointless Blog. I’ve never followed famous YouTubers but wouldn’t dispute that there is plenty of engaging content online. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that Alfie Deyes’ videos fall under the category of ‘engaging’. This is especially true in the case for his recent ‘Living on £1 for 24 hours’ video, which sparked huge backlash. The video was subsequently removed from the channel with an apology swiftly uploaded in its place.

Considering his influence, Deyes could have used this platform as a way of educating young subscribers on the pervasiveness of food poverty across the UK, emphasising the struggles of living on an average of £1 a day. He could have incorporated the importance of charities aimed at helping families and young children to survive. Instead, he didn’t mention charity once. He complained about missing out on his morning coffee, and decided he couldn’t bear the thought so went to claim a free one on his My Waitrose card instead.

Just one minute into the half-hour-long video, I had a number of issues with what Deyes was saying. He stated, ‘If I was doing this in a country like Thailand […] apparently it’s super cheap,’ referring to the fact that his local area is frightfully expensive. Little does he know that probably a five minute drive away from his swanky Brighton mansion is a household which struggles to find food for their children. The Child Poverty Action Group has found that 14 million people in the UK live below the poverty line. A BBC survey concluded that 1 in 4 children on average nationwide live in poverty, with areas such as east Brighton being even higher (1 in 3). How could Alfie Deyes be so painfully ignorant to this in his video?

The Child Poverty Action Group has found that 14 million people in the UK live below the poverty line

I think it could be because he simply did not care. He is a middle-class, white man who has probably never had to struggle in his life. Throughout the video, he was completely ignorant to the fact that he was trivialising poverty, and at one point even Googled ‘How to eat for free (or very cheap).’ In reality, not all households actually facing poverty can afford access to the internet through data plans or speedy broadband. Indeed, the Christian Science Monitor found that 94% of low and moderate income families are under-connected due to the cost of internet accessibility. Even if they did possess access, there’s only so many food deals you can get for nothing before you completely exhaust your options. Usually, not a lot of food or drink is completely free.

Obviously, if you’re a famous YouTuber with 4 million subscribers, it is. In his video, Deyes sets out in his Range Rover to grab a free Krispy Kreme. He walks out with thirteen, maybe because he knows an employee’s girlfriend, or maybe just because he’s famous and incredibly entitled. Alfie accepts the doughnuts but declares that they ‘don’t count’ because they were gifted to him and at no point did he ask for them. I think it is at this moment in the video which I solidified the belief that Alfie Deyes was totally oblivious to the struggles of millions of peope in the UK. It’s such a shame, because with his platform he could have educated 4 million subscribers (many of which are impressionable teenagers), on the urgency of food poverty in the UK.

In his video, Deyes sets out to the centre of Brighton in his Range Rover to grab a free Krispy Kreme

Instead, he made fun of this struggle in a series of ill-judged comments. In my opinion the most shocking part of the video is when his girlfriend (famous Youtuber Zoella) hands Alfie a £1 coin, and they both laugh. To me, it just shows how desensitised both are to poverty. It’s great they they’re both successful YouTubers with a mansion and a nice car, but instead of using their social standing to educate subscribers and donate money to worthwhile causes, they make jokes out of genuine struggles.

The video has now been taken down and Alfie Deyes uploaded an apology video in its place. He removed the adverts to ensure he made no further profit from his mistake, and announced that he was researching appropriate local charities to donate any profits made thus far. He has uploaded six videos on his PointlessVlog channel since then, and many seem to have accepted Deyes’ mistake. However, I don’t think this is as simple as forgiving and forgetting. Let’s not forget the large, and not to mention, impressionable fanbase which he boasts. Is this the example that famous YouTubers should be setting for young adults?

I don’t mean to tarnish the entire YouTube community with one brush, as I am sure many possess an extremely responsible attitude to the content they upload online. But it is acts such as this which give the entire community a bad name. Stuff like this accentuates the fact that social media use needs to come with a greater level of education, to ensure that those with a powerful platform can utilise it to instigate change and engagement, rather than promote elitist and ignorant beliefs or values. Deyes even pointed out in his apology video that he has made over 2,000 videos in 10 years and should know better. But it only takes one mistake to tarnish a reputation and negatively influence the beliefs of impressionable followers.

Social media use needs to come with a greater level of education

Overall, I’ve seen a lot of frustration towards Alfie Deyes on the internet, much of which has labelled him an ignorant Tory. I’m not surprised by this judgement, as it appears to me that during filming, editing and uploading his 35-minute video, the thought of charity and the actual point of this ‘challenge’ was completely overlooked. Some seem to believe that Deyes uploaded the apology video because he was pushed into doing so in order to salvage his reputation. I disagree slightly, because I do think that he has learned from this and hopefully a mistake like this won’t be made again. However, online content uploaded to YouTube is bound to spark controversy again at some point, and it is without doubt that the issue of poverty across the UK is far away from being properly addressed and solved. As for being a Tory, Deyes addressed this accusation in his apology video by stating, ‘That is, for sure, not the case.’ In my opinion, that’s fair enough. Alfie Deyes may not be a Tory, but in this case he certainly acted like a caricature of one.

 



Published

12th July 2018 at 7:30 am



Images from

Gage Skidmore



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