Jimmy Donaldson, better known as MrBeast, is the largest individual creator on YouTube. His main channel has 144 million subscribers. His most popular video, a recreation of the Netflix hit “Squid Game,” has amassed an astonishing 401 million views. He is admired for his generous charity work and trusted by millions of parents worldwide, who allow their children to watch his kid-focused videos that consist of pranks, over-the-top challenges, and reaction videos.
However, an emerging controversy involving one of his closest friends and longtime co-creator Chris Tyson — who has recently come out as being on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) — is threatening his brand. Millions of young children are being groomed into uncritically accepting transgenderism and trans activism at an impressionable age, unbeknown to many parents who allow them to watch MrBeast videos unsupervised.
My two older kids — aged 7 and 9 — have been fans of MrBeast for some time. The content was wholesome and we’ve had some wonderful conversations about giving back while watching some of his charity videos. I try to make sure that they watch educational videos where possible, but to be honest, most videos on MrBeast’s main channel are just big, loud, dumb, vacuous stunts that have zero educational value and are just fun. Kids need that too.
But the fun stopped six months ago. Chris started wearing nail polish in a video. He grew more and more effeminate, wore ladies’ sweaters, grew out his hair, and manicured his nails. My children started noticing. My daughter commented on Chris’ over pronounced hand gestures to show off his nails. Both she and my son began talking about it. My son said, “He’s acting weird.” My daughter said, “He wants everyone to see his nails and hair. He keeps showing them off. He drops things on purpose just so he can pick them up with his nails.”
After Chris’ shocking transformation in this video, it was no longer possible to ignore the issue. This, of course, is what he wanted. He projected his transformation into our home and demanded that we “have more conversations” about his new lifestyle choices “in the future.” So we did. We spoke about why he thinks he’s a woman, what will happen to his wife and child, and if we still want to watch MrBeast. The result was that my children just wanted silly videos. They found his transformation weird and they felt overwhelmingly sad for his wife and kid. They didn’t want to watch it anymore. MrBeast was always just mindless fun, after all.
All Fun and Games
It has always been the eclectic cast of supporting characters that have made the videos so engaging. There is Chandler (who first appeared in 2018), who is childish — he is afraid of pickles and counts goldfish crackers with sliced cheese melted over the top as a meal. He often appears in videos with his fun and relatable family. Then there is Nolan, a newer member of the group (he first appeared in 2020) who is impish and cheeky and often elevates videos with his all-in, high-energy persona.
At the center of the MrBeast universe are Jimmy and Chris. The pair are childhood friends, and in a 2020 interview, Jimmy revealed that Chris was the very first subscriber to his channel. Chris is integral to the MrBeast brand and he has recently taken over as the host of the highly popular MrBeast Reacts channel. My kids enjoyed watching Chris from the start. He was the most masculine and outdoors-orientated of the group.
In one popular video from 2020, the group goes camping and the humor is largely derived from how soft and incompetent the rest of the team is compared to Chris, who acts like a tour guide, scout leader, and parent to the whole group. While the group flounders, Chris, who grew up enjoying an outdoors lifestyle in North Carolina, states “I’m a mountain man, I’m enjoying myself, we’re going to make it to the top.” Needless to say, when the group hunkers down for the night, tent-raising duty falls to Chris.
This parental instinct came naturally to Chris, who welcomed his first child in June 2020 with his wife Katie, whom he married in 2018. Because of this practical masculinity and sense of humor combined with his general southern-man sensibilities, it came as a massive shock to fans of the show when five months after the birth of his child, Chris announced he was bisexual.
Sexuality Becomes a Theme
Chris’ announcement dovetailed with a broader introduction of mature themes into the MrBeast universe. Also in 2020, core member Karl Jacobs was added to the group. In several interviews, Jimmy has stated that he added Karl after pressure from Chris, who had formed a close bond with him. Karl often presents a childlike and camp persona in MrBeast videos. In 2020, he stated that he believed he was asexual, then in 2021 he awkwardly claimed to be heterosexual. Regardless of his sexuality, what mattered was that the dynamic of the MrBeast crew and content had changed. Sexuality was to the fore and became increasingly visible onscreen.
The close relationship between Karl and Chris fueled rumors that the two were in a relationship. This is something Chris has denied. Still, many fans have blamed Karl for Chris’ evolution, giving rise to the term “the Karl effect.” Speculation surrounding their relationship has increased after Chris finally confirmed in March 2023 that he and his wife Katie had separated. Immediately after the announcement, he reaffirmed that he is bisexual but that he is not involved with Karl. On April 6, Chris announced that he is gender non-conforming and on HRT.
As expected, the backlash online has been intense. There has been abuse directed at Chris by former fans who feel betrayed by his actions. Chris, for his part, has leaned into the typical culture war talking points, mentioning how proud he is “seeing conversations started” because of his actions. His conversion has aligned with a new political awakening and his Twitter account is now littered with the usual talking points one would expect to find from a recent convert — he supports defunding the police and gun control, advocates for trans rights, calls conservative news outlets “grifters,” and thinks orange man bad.
The issue is neatly summed up in a viral tweet by influential drama news channel host Keemstar, who, after chastising critics who left negative comments, stated “This decision is a decision only Chris can make. Do better!” Of course, Keemstar is correct that mindless abuse is unacceptable, but he pushes the completely false idea that Chris’ decision is a private matter. It isn’t. His transition has been playing out in millions of family sitting rooms worldwide.
And make no mistake, despite his good charity work and overall pleasant demeanor, Jimmy is complicit in projecting this adult content into millions of homes. Jimmy is MrBeast and all editorial decisions start and end with him. He has taken a political stance on a massively divisive topic and quietly slipped it into his programming under the radar of many trusting parents. Further, both Jimmy and Nolan have made their support public. Karl has been even more vocal, saying of fans who have questions about the transition: “F-ck the goofy mother f-ckers keep runnin your own stuff.” YouTube has expressed support as well, so it appears unlikely that Chris will leave the show.
What MrBeast is doing is sinister and will have far-reaching consequences. He is grooming an unsuspecting generation of children into uncritically accepting transgender and trans activism at a vulnerable age. Due to the unrivaled reach of MrBeast and the unparalleled and often unmonitored access he has to millions of kids across the globe, he is now, without a shadow of a doubt, the leading source of child-focused, transgender content in the world.
It is imperative that all parents are made aware of this and given the choice of whether they consent to this content. After all, Chris said he wants to have a conversation. Parents need to know that this time, it isn’t an invitation, it’s an ultimatum.
Dr. Eoin Lenihan is an independent educator and extremism researcher. His work has been
featured on AlJazeera and Fox News. He has also written for Arutz Sheeva, Quillette, The Post
Millennial, and The Daily Caller. His peer-reviewed paper “A classification of Antifa Twitter accounts
based on social network mapping and linguistic analysis” was published in Social Network Analysis
and Mining, and it is the largest academic quantitative analysis of Antifa to date. You can find more
from Eoin on Twitter: @EoinLenihan and on his website: www.eoinlenihan.weebly.com.