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13 April, 2024
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Youtube star to political contender with Elon Musk

Fidias' transformation from Youtuber to political player

Yiannis Ioannou

Yiannis Ioannou

When Fidias Panayiotou, affectionately known as Fidias, embarked on his YouTube journey following his departure from the National Guard in late 2019, he entered a landscape already dominated by the likes of George Ioannou, popularly known as "2J."

However, by the close of 2023, the 24-year-old Meniko native had not only surpassed the one million subscriber mark (today boasting 2.48 million), but also amassed an astonishing 505 million views, arguably making him the foremost YouTuber in the Greek-speaking world. His meteoric rise stemmed from a daring challenge he initiated in 2022: to enlist the collaboration of Elon Musk, alongside 99 other luminaries, in a series of videos.

Fidias's tenacity, camping outside Twitter's offices and rallying his subscribers to persuade Musk, ultimately catapulted him to global stardom, firmly establishing his presence on the international stage. Despite his avowed admiration for Elon Musk and his professed mission to spread love through his channel, Fidias faced a backlash last summer following videos depicting him evading ticket payments on public transport in India and Japan, prompting apologies and the removal of the contentious content by YouTube.

In recent years, the media landscape has undergone a seismic shift, with online platforms such as YouTube, streaming services, and the bite-sized content of Chinese TikTok largely supplanting traditional media outlets.

Fidias' political odyssey
In the lead-up to the 2023 presidential election, Fidias unveiled a second YouTube channel dedicated to Cypriot affairs. His unexpected foray into the realm of politics captured public attention, as he pivoted to conducting interviews with presidential hopefuls, managing to secure sit-downs with 12 out of 14 candidates (with Christodoulides and Mavroyiannis notably absent). However, his journalistic pursuits laid bare a fundamental deficiency in civic literacy.

As the specter of the forthcoming European elections loomed, Fidias reemerged, declaring his candidacy and leveraging his YouTube platform to spearhead a campaign aimed at enfranchising new voters, once again challenging the status quo. His scathing indictment of political apathy, coupled with his appeal to mobilize young voters, elicited a spectrum of responses, with some lauding his efforts while others questioned his depth of insight and underlying motivations.

Navigating the intersection of content creation and politics
Fidias's outreach to a dynamic audience aged 12-20 underscores his ambition to engage a demographic traditionally disenfranchised from the political process. Yet, his foray into politics raises pertinent questions regarding the convergence of entertainment and civic discourse. While the allure of monetization incentivizes content creation on platforms like YouTube, the substantive impact on political discourse remains a subject of contention, as exemplified by the experiences of content creators abroad.

The road ahead
The efficacy of Fidias's endeavor to galvanize young voters for the European elections remains uncertain. However, his venture resonates with broader themes, including the resurgence of populist sentiments in Europe, the primacy of image over ideology, and the imperative of civic engagement, particularly among nascent voters in countries like Cyprus. As the electoral landscape evolves, Fidias's narrative embodies the evolving dynamic between content creation and political mobilization, emblematic of the contemporary sociopolitical paradigm.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

Cyprus  |  politics  |  YouTube  |  videos  |  technology  | 

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