Jonathan Aryan "Jon" Jafari (born March 24, 1990), best known by his internet pseudonym JonTron, is an American comedian, reviewer, and internet personality. He is known for his YouTube web series JonTron, in which he reviews video games, movies, and television shows of varying genres in a retrospective and comedic manner. Jafari is also known as the co-creator and former co-host of the Let's Play webseries Game Grumps, and for co-creating the video game entertainment website NormalBoots. As of November 27, 2017, Jafari has amassed over 3.7 million subscribers and over 511 million views on his YouTube channel, JonTronShow.

Early life

Jafari was born and raised in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. He is of Hungarian-Croatian descent on his mother's side and Persian descent from his father's side. He attended Palos Verdes Peninsula High School from 2004 to 2008, where he participated in musical theatre. While attending high school, Jafari met future collaborator Jirard Khalil, actor Michael Barryte, and future Game Grumps editor Barry Kramer.

Career

Early career

Jafari created a Newgrounds account under the name "BirdmanXZ6" in 2003, and uploaded five animations depicting anthropomorphic onions. In 2006, he made a YouTube account under the same name.

JonTron

On August 31, 2010, Jafari created a YouTube channel called JonTronShow. He stated that he chose the name JonTron because it was "reminiscent of technology" à la Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, and that the show was originally going to be called JonTron 2.0.[9] He then uploaded a two-part review of the Nintendo 64 version of the game Daikatana, the first installment in his JonTron series. In each episode of JonTron, Jafari reviews singular games as well as games of a particular theme or genre. He is usually accompanied by his green-cheeked parakeet, Jacques, who speaks with a robotic voice. Jafari usually incorporates elements of sketch comedy into these episodes to display his reactions to the video game that he is reviewing. Jafari has reviewed numerous video game adaptations of popular franchises such as Hercules, Barbie, Home Alone, and Conan the Barbarian.[10] He has also reviewed various unlicensed games, particularly based on the Pokémon franchise as well as Disney films.[11][12] In the latter, he observed China as being "farther away from U.S. jurisdiction and much better at Disney bootlegging" and also remarked on unofficial online games based on the company's movies.[13] Jafari also occasionally uploads skits as well as movie reviews. His most popular video is his cover of Firework with over 17 million views.

In 2011, Jafari created two now-defunct spin-off Let's Play channels. The first, "JonTronStarcraft," has two videos of Jafari playing Blizzard Entertainment's popular RTS game StarCraft. The second channel, "JonTronLoL," has four videos of Jafari playing the MOBA game League of Legends.[15] Both channels have less than 25,000 subscribers.

JonTronShow reached one million subscribers in 2014.[15]

In May 2015, Jafari released a spin-off web series on his YouTube channel titled JonTron's StarCade (often referred to simply as StarCade), in which he reviews games based on the Star Wars franchise.[16] The webseries included cameos from numerous other Internet personalities and actors, such as Egoraptor, Markiplier, Nathan Barnatt, Ross O'Donovan, and Kyle Hebert. The series was produced by Maker Studios, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, and concluded in December 2015 after nine episodes.

Jafari occasionally uploads videos in which he comments on matters that he finds important, which are usually related to gaming. This occurred most recently in 2016, with a video made in response to Blizzard Entertainment shutting down private servers of their popular MMORPG, World of Warcraft. Jafari mostly criticized the shutdown of one of the most popular private servers, Nostalrius, which was a copy of the 1.12 version of the game.[18] Jafari's video helped create notability on this subject, and lead to thousands of signatures on a Change.org petition.[51]

NormalBoots

NormalBoots was created in late 2010 by Jafari and Austin "PeanutButterGamer" Hargrave to act as a hub where Jafari and Hargrave could post content and receive advertisement revenue. Soon after its creation, NormalBoots added Did You Know Gaming?, The Completionist, Indie Games Searchlight, and Continue? to its roster of shows. The site was closed down in 2012, as Google's AdSense program offered better revenue options for the content creators.[51] NormalBoots was relaunched on January 24, 2014, with the addition of other video game-focused channels ProJared and Satchbag's Goods.[51] However, after Jafari's political comments in 2017, it was announced on May 18, 2017 that he wouldn't be an active part of the group, but still remain as a founding member.[52]

Game Grumps

In July 2012, Jafari and animator Arin "Egoraptor" Hanson, known for his Awesome Series, Sequelitis, and Girlchan in Paradise animations, announced they would be starting a Let's Play series titled Game Grumps through videos on both their channels. On the GameGrumps channel, Jafari and Hanson played games that were typically retro or nostalgic in style. On July 18 of the same year, Jafari and Hanson uploaded their first serials of Game Grumps: Kirby Super Star, Mega Man 7 and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.[51] Due to Jafari and Hanson's existing fanbases, the show was quickly acclaimed by fans. However, on June 25, 2013 it was revealed that, due to unspecified reasons as well as conflicts with JonTron, Jafari left Game Grumps and was replaced by Ninja Sex Party singer Dan Avidan.[51] This was met with extreme backlash by fans, as the announcement was made without any prior warning or lead-up. The uproar was also due to Ross O'Donovan and Avidan announcing their Game Grumps spin-off Steam Train the same day that Jafari's departure was disclosed.[15]

Collaborations

Jafari has collaborated with multiple YouTube channels, including Ethan and Hila Klein's channel h3h3Productions. From October 2015 to August 2016, Hila Klein was a producer for JonTron. He has made an appearance on James Rolfe's Let's Play series James & Mike Mondays.[51] Jafari was also a featured vocalist in an episode of The Gregory Brothers' viral webseries Songify the News. At the same time, The Gregory Brothers remixed Jafari's review of the bootlegged game, Titenic, and it was released on iTunes.[51]

Jafari has done voice-over work for Did You Know Gaming?, covering episodes on The Legend of Zelda, Banjo-Kazooie, Donkey Kong, Pokémon, Pikmin, Animal Crossing, Dragon Quest, Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, and games of Disney franchises. He has also covered the development of Star Wars for their spin-off series Did You Know Movies? on fellow YouTube personality Matthew Patrick's channel, The Film Theorists.[51][9]

In 2013, before his departure from Game Grumps, Jafari and Hanson appeared in a promotional video produced by Polaris for the Warner Bros. movie Pacific Rim. Around the same time, Jafari appeared in Ninja Sex Party's music video for "Let's Get This Terrible Party Started," which was directed by Hanson.[15] To promote the 2013 World Series, Jafari appeared in an a cappella cover of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," produced by PepsiCo and musician Mike Tompkins, and uploaded to Maker Studios' Maker Music channel.[9]

In November 2016 Jafari released an album called Love Is Like Drugs with The Gregory Brothers, which reached number two on the chart of comedy albums of the week of November 26.[9][9]

Other work

Jafari played Banjo-Kazooie in June 2014 on a Twitch stream to collect donations for Teach For America's GoFundMe campaign. Jafari stated that if the $25,000 proposed goal was hit, he would reprise a cover of Katy Perry's song "Firework" originally recorded for his 2011 review of DinoCity. The full version of the cover was uploaded to Jafari's YouTube channel on February 14, 2016.[61]

Jafari has provided voice-over work for A Hat in Time, a video game by Gears for Breakfast.[9] He also recorded voice work for Playtonic Games' 3D platforming video game Yooka-Laylee,[9][9] but the content was removed from the game in a day one patch in light of his controversial statements on race (see ).[9]

Popularity

Jafari was referenced in the 2011 indie game DLC Quest on a gravestone along with the Game Grumps hosts' catchphrase, "real talk". The gravestone also read "???-2013," referencing Jafari's departure from the show in 2013.[9]

In 2016, Jafari was featured as a character alongside other NormalBoots collaborators in the dating sim and visual novel Asagao Academy.[10][10]

As of August 2017, Jafari has amassed over 3.2 million subscribers and more than 440 million views on his YouTube channel, JonTronShow.

Political views

In an interview with Breitbart News, Jafari stated that he voted for Barack Obama both times and that he supported Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primaries, but has said that he doesn't identify as conservative or liberal, preferring instead to decide on a case-by-case basis.[10][57]

Sargon of Akkad livestream controversy

Jafari discussed politics on a livestream hosted by Sargon of Akkad on January 27, 2017; on March 12 of the same year, Jafari posted a tweet defending a quote from Iowa representative Steve King, who had tweeted in regards to the United States' policy on immigration: "We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies."[58][10] Jafari defended King's tweet and later appeared on Twitch streamer Destiny's channel to explain his views. During this appearance he said that, "nobody wants to become a minority in their own country", and stressed that he took issue with white people being labeled as racist for wanting to remain a majority. He said that he saw this reaction as hypocritical with how the majorities of other countries are regarded. Over the course of the one and a quarter hour appearance, he also commented that he had seen statistics that wealthy blacks commit more crimes than poor whites, as well as asking whether the colonisation of Africa by European countries was a good thing.[10] Shortly afterwards, many outlets criticized his statements and specifically questioned his claim about crimes committed by wealthy blacks.[10][10][10]

His comments were followed by strong backlash within his fanbase, with partners noting a loss of subscribers.[58][11] Kotaku reported that many of Jafari's longtime fans felt uncomfortable with these views, but still watch his content.[11] Jafari posted a statement on YouTube on March 19, attempting to address some of his own controversial arguments from the stream.[57] On May 18, 2017, it was announced by NormalBoots that after Jafari's comments, he would still play as an honored founder of the group, however he would not play as an active member anymore and that this was a "mutual understanding", although that he had not been kicked out.[52]

Awards and honors

In 2013, Jafari was among CraveOnline's "7 Awesome YouTube Gamers You Should Watch". Writer Paul Tamburro stated, "Mixing a large dollop of offbeat humour with a light sprinkle of insightful commentary, JonTron's reviews of games of old have inspired many imitators, but none have proven to be more hilarious."[11] Time magazine listed JonTron as 2015's seventh most searched Internet meme on Google, and he was also ranked number five on WatchMojo.com's "Top 10 YouTube Video Game Reviewers".[11][11]

Credits

Video games

YearTitleRoleNotes
2016Asagao Academy: Normal Boots ClubJon
2017Yooka-LayleeToilet in World 5Replaced with another voice in day 1 patch.[11]
2017A Hat in TimeMoon Penguins

Web series

YearTitleRoleNotes
2012–13Game GrumpsHimself636 episodes
2012–13TOME: Terrain of Magical ExpertiseSniperwheel3 episodes
2016Smart GuysGuyEpisode 3: "Recruitment"

See also