In the small chance you don’t know him, Jimmy ‘Mr Beast’ Donaldson is one of the largest YouTubers on the platform, amassing his following from his creative philanthropic, borderline gameshow, videos (ex. Squid Game for a half million dollars, last to stay in the circle wins $100,000, hiding a briefcase on a private island and the first to find it gets the island, getting hunted by a bounty hunter etc.).
Donaldson recently released a video by the name of “1,000 blind people see for the first time;” nothing controversial happened in the video, he gave 1,000 people a $3,500 surgery that helps with vision loss. However, the name of the video rubbed some people the wrong way, and I can see why. Nearly all of Donaldson’s other videos don’t suffer from this fate but, for some reason, this one just discomforted me right when I started watching it.
Maybe it was the misleading title including “for the first time,” when cataracts are a condition that usually develop at age 40, according to the National Eye Institute, with it being extremely rare that babies are born with cataracts.
Maybe it was the fact that the video was sensationalized (although he usually uses this style and it never bothers me), but either way I don’t think Donaldson did anything wrong; he cured 1,000 people’s cataracts, and maybe he clickbaited a bit but he did cure their blindness as he promised.
However, this clickbait could possibly misinform Donaldson’s young audience into thinking he actually did cure blindness, which takes the world’s eyes away from a health issue that still direly needs research funding.
I think the main thing that discomforts me, though, is the near dystopian concept that this video has. Tens of thousands of people likely signed up to get cataracts done to them and a multimillionaire randomly chooses them in a raffle for them to get the surgery, to be able to work and live their life.
Every single word in that statement just feels wrong. But, once again, this is not a problem with Donaldson’s philanthropy, it’s a problem with our healthcare system.
In our current system we leave many stuck in poverty due to their eye loss at the bottom due to the massive $3,500 paywall that prevents them from even thinking about it. Even though the returns would be well over tenfold times, if they can’t afford it, they can’t afford it.
Donaldson thought the same after responding to the discourse made from his video: “I don’t understand why curable blindness is a thing. Why don’t governments step in and help?” And I think this is a very reasonable inquiry from Donaldson, they would likely get a major ROI if they cured their blindness as it would put them back in the workplace. The only reason I can think of is that governments are trying to stay as far away as possible from communism.
Whatever reason it may be that they don’t, I think this video was, in the end, a positive. For universal healthcare advocates, it sparks debate and inquiry about why we don’t and, through the dystopian nature of Donaldson’s video, highlights just how wrong our modern healthcare system has become.