Jimmy Donaldson, also known as MrBeast, has made a career out of documenting his good deeds on his YouTube to over 130 million subscribers. From giving people cars to donating extraordinary amounts of money to everyone from everyday people to influencers, he is on the extreme end of generosity on the platform. Donaldson took it to another level on January 28 when he posted a video about restoring the sight of over 1,000 blind people.
There are many different kinds of blindness, and some are treatable. According to a SEE International surgeon featured in the video, most sight-impaired people with cataracts only need a ten-minute surgery to be able to see again. Unfortunately, barriers such as finances and location prevent many people from getting the proper care they need. In partnership with the organization, Donaldson paid for a thousand people's surgeries, even offering some of them an extra $10,000 dollars.
However, the feel-good video also sparked a conversation about philanthropy on the internet, healthcare and more.
Some pointed out that Donaldson uses his charity to avoid paying taxes.
Twitch streamer Hasan Piker explained that the video fills him with "rage" because it highlights how most life-saving care is blocked by a "paywall" and it takes a YouTuber doing it for content to help people. In 2021, Donaldson reportedly made $54 million on the video platform alone.
And the ethics of filming a good deed has been brought up again as people still debate whether monetizing charitable acts or using them for views negates the impact of what was done.
\u201cI will cure your blindness on the condition I get to film and exploit your emotions. Also it's good for my business. \n\nJoin us next week on Mr Beast when I dangle a $1000 in front of some homeless dude and say he can have it if he tells everyone to like and subscribe\u201d— Stych (@Stych) 1675018913
\u201cThe dude who goes by Mr. Beast (idk his real name) could just simply pay for people's surgeries and not film it for content as an exchange. If he was truly doing it to help people he wouldn't monetize the content. It's gross and highly manipulative. I said what I said.\u201d— Antonia. (@Antonia.) 1675102139
Donaldson responded to the criticism on Twitter, confirming he has seen the intense conversation around his history-making act of kindness.
\u201cTwitter - Rich people should help others with their money\n\nMe - Okay, I\u2019ll use my money to help people and I promise to give away all my money before I die. Every single penny.\n\nTwitter - MrBeast bad\u201d— MrBeast (@MrBeast) 1675119794
Some people came to the YouTuber's defense, making sure that his good deed didn't go unnoticed.
\u201cI don\u2019t care about Mr. Beast I genuinely barely know anything about him, his platform, whatever. \n\nAll I\u2019m gonna say on the matter is that if monetizing good deeds is the means by which 1000 PEOPLE are literally CURED of BLINDNESS, I am 100% okay with monetizing good deeds.\u201d— [HB] RAINEY\u2122 (@[HB] RAINEY\u2122) 1675201519
\u201cThe Mr Beast situation should make it painfully obvious, that you just gotta do what you want, regardless of what people say. You could find the cure for cancer, and some people will still be upset with you.\u201d— Mightykeef (@Mightykeef) 1675177062
For what it's worth, Donaldson himself seems to agree that the government should step in.
\u201cI don\u2019t understand why curable blindness is a thing. Why don\u2019t governments step in and help? Even if you\u2019re thinking purely from a financial standpoint it\u2019s hard to see how they don\u2019t roi on taxes from people being able to work again.\u201d— MrBeast (@MrBeast) 1675088051
For what it's worth, it shouldn't take a miraculous act of charity for people to access care. According to the nonprofit organization MyVision, the average cost of cataract surgery is $3,500 and $7,000 per eye. Insurance can help cover some of the cost depending on the plan, if the patient's deductible has been met and the condition that is causing the blindness. Certain eye conditions are not covered by insurance and sometimes even seemingly necessary procedures can be deemed cosmetic or unnecessary, leaving the patient to shoulder the high cost.
Photo courtesy of Dave Kotinsky