No, I’d never heard of him either. Thoughtful piece by the LRB’s Jenny Turner on children and the Internet:
I’ve been watching Tobuscus for a while now, not because I think he’s good – I can’t stand him – but because my nine-year-old son admires him, only slightly less than he admires the even more appalling Annoying Orange and the unspeakable Fred. My son, I think, got into this stuff via Minecraft, the hugely popular Swedish building game, which quickly draws you into a worldwide ‘community’ of aficionados, many of whom post unbelievably long and boring vlogs of themselves playing the game on YouTube. Tobuscus, whose real name is Toby Turner, has a YouTube channel called TobyGames (5.5 million subscribers) devoted to gaming. Another, Tobuscus (4.88 million) features mildly satirical clips and sketches. The TobyTurner channel (1.7 million) uploads ‘lazyvlogs’ from Turner’s iPhone with ‘new videos every day’. Observers reckon he can earn about $2000 a day under the terms of the YouTube Partner Program. My son has friends who plan careers as YouTube vloggers, and although most of me thinks this is tragic, I can also see that in economic terms they may be acting more rationally than I am in writing this.
Minecraft is banned in our household – we learned our lesson the hard way – but Turner belongs to the it-has-its-virtues camp.