TIME's newest issue centers on the world's 100 most influential people, an annual event for the perennial magazine. Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg, still YouTube's biggest star, and Palmer Luckey, a pioneer in the still-uncharted territory of virtual reality, rank among other movers and shakers such as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Eli Broad.
Some people hate him, but at least 43.4 million people love PewDiePie. He's number one on YouTube with a bullet, and South Park co-creator Trey Parker wrote an essay proclaiming Kjellberg the "pied piper of YouTube." Parker confessed he felt old the first time his stepson showed him a PewDiePie video—one of the major influences that led to South Park's on-point episode focused on the YouTube sensation.
"But the more we saw, the more I understood why Felix Kjellberg, with some 43 million subscribers, is the most-watched person on YouTube," Parker admitted. "He’s charming and funny, and he knows how to edit himself. And he has turned passive gaming into active, enjoyable entertainment."
Parker concludes his piece by proclaiming PewDiePie the creator of a new art form: "And I don’t think anyone should underestimate its most powerful artist."
Acclaimed director Ridley Scott articulated the appeal of Oculus founder Palmer Luckey in his essay for TIME. "Virtual reality is no longer the future. It is here now, and we saw first-hand, while working with Palmer Luckey and his team at Oculus on The Martian VR, how VR has opened up a new world of storytelling."
On its website, TIME explained how its editors go about culling their list of the 100 most influential people in the world each year. Taking into account ambition, altruism, and various other factors, the staff looks for people from a wide variety of industries (athletes, politicians, tech gurus, celebrities, politicians, and more) who break through glass ceilings.
"They broke the rules, broke the record, broke the silence, broke the boundaries to reveal what we’re capable of. They are seekers, with a fearless willingness to be surprised by what they find."