Johnny Dee isn’t the most well-known name on YouTube, but he’s inspired battle cries across the platform as creators band together to help him try to reclaim his lost channel.
Johnny Dee, whose real name is John De Nardis, uploads covers of songs, one of YouTube’s most popular genres. Although Dee is an older man, he gained attention for his takes on popular hip-hop and rap tracks, like Lil Pump’s “Gucci Gang” and Jake Paul’s “It’s Everyday Bro,” which are typically geared toward a younger audience. Dozens of YouTubers, most notably PewDiePie, took notice of Dee’s channel and made their own videos about the singer.
Dee reached the peak of his popularity after PewDiePie uploaded video on Dec. 26, 2017, called, “This man should have been in YouTube Rewind.” The video gives an overview of who Johnny Dee is, and following the video’s release to nearly 60 million subscribers, Dee exploded in popularity.
A couple of weeks after PewDiePie’s video, people noticed that Johnny Dee’s channel was no longer active and questions arose over what happened. Some wondered whether Dee took the channel down because of all the extra attention, but on Jan. 15, community members reported that Dee’s channel was hacked. Dee published his own update on his new YouTube account on Jan. 18.
“I’m not too good on a computer, and I think everyone that I can trust is good,” Dee says in the video. “I did this story to tell you that I got scammed. I didn’t think anybody could be that evil. The scammer messaged me on Facebook ... and I don’t know what to tell you, but bad things happen. I will never give out my password again — to anyone!”
Dee stated that if he doesn’t get his original channel back from YouTube, which hosted more than 1,000 of his videos, he’s worried that he won’t get paid for his content anymore. Under YouTube’s new guidelines, Dee must have accrued more than 4,000 hours of watch time in the past 12 months and have a minimum of 1,000 subscribers.
While he certainly met that threshold on his original account, Dee’s new account only has a few videos. With more than 3,500 subscribers and climbing, the big question is whether Dee will be able to meet that watch time between now and Feb. 20, when the new monetization criteria for YouTube’s Partner Program goes into effect.
“I’m not that computer literate, but I love to sing,” Dee says. “That’s why I will keep on singing to you for the rest of my life. I’m not going to let a few dollars ruin my life. I’m going to do what I started to do when I joined YouTube.”
Dee’s case — being scammed by hackers and losing access to his original YouTube account — isn’t unique, but the response from the community has been heartwarming. People have tweeted incessantly at YouTube, asking them to restore Dee’s original channel and videos if possible. Hashtags like #welovejohnny and #johnnydee have begun spreading as people try to bring attention to what’s happening to the surprise YouTube star.
In a comment on one YouTube video, Dee said that he “can’t get YouTube to give me back my original site.” Yet his original channel is back online, although it’s unclear whether Dee has control over it. Polygon has followed up with YouTube for comment on the situation
Dee’s back to smiling on camera, despite his frustration with the situation. He’s singing away and interacting with commenter who, he says, give him a reason to continue doing what he’s always wanted to do: sing.
“Here’s a good smile for you, to show you that I really appreciate those comments,” Dee says. “I hope to God that YouTube gives my original recordings back to me — and send me my paycheck. I don’t know if that’ll do that or not ... It’s a real struggle for me to back to a happy way of life, but I want to sing for you.
“Goodbye now, and thanks for watching.”