A white South-African Youtuber known by his moniker ‘Serpentza’ has claimed the crown of China vloggers. He has over half a million subscribers and 87 million video views. Yet, many are worrying about his anti-China allegiance. More to that in a minute.
First, you could say that any Western person going to China will have heard of him or has seen his videos. Not without pride, then, he rightly claims to be “The Original China Vlogger” -the hash line of his Youtube channel.
And in his beginnings he was indeed a China vlogger, alright. He was riding his motor-circle, drinking, job-hobbing. A strange amalgam of loser and daredevil. But something has changed. From his charming local exploitation of China’s public life - he films strangers without scruple - to his tips on Chinese girls or on the right brands of beer, he was the likable go-to channel for balanced, fairly pro-China content.
Now that he grew bigger, more international, however, I suspect he gets sponsorship from foreign interest groups, let alone from Google-Youtube, of which he is a partner. We recall that Google-Youtube is banned in China.
You can see from Serpentza’s recent videos that he turns more and more critical of China, to the level of complete dissatisfaction, and not just with the living standards and housing prices. Titles like ‘If China’s so GREAT, why do so many FLEE when they have the opportunity’ are not only propaganda but outright misinformation. The same goes for ‘China NEEDS an Enemy to Survive!’ or ‘Tiananmen vs Apartheid’ or ‘Hong Kong is dangerous’.
Now why is Serpentza click-baiting and provoking? People on the web are speculating as to why he became increasingly disillusioned with his host country, to the point of sinophobia. Is the future of Serpentza a political anti-China commentator?
The answer to that is both simple and complex: Like with all forms of “journalism,” negativity, doom, crime, race, politics and so on all make great clicks-and-quotas. Serpentza needs to be negative on China in order to gain Western followers. They want to hear the shit in China.
You don’t believe it? When Serpentza posted his Hong Kong videos protesting the Chinese government, his subscriber rate went up 800% while his views went up 600% for three days.
Likewise, his audiences in America and elsewhere in the West are of course anti-China, anti-Communist, and in order to get their views and subscriptions, Serpentza has to deliver accordingly. Last, Youtube gives Serpentza a leg up just to annoy China, by featuring his videos prominently, if he criticizes the Chinese regime.
That all said, Serpentza is still not a clear-cut brainwash channel, yet. Like for example China Uncensored is.
However, it could change swiftly as he is pushing hard for ever more controversial content that will infuriate the Chinese and flatter the Americans in this war of fake news and enemy propaganda.