Jafari in 2017
|Born||Jonathan Aryan Jafari|
March 24, 1990 (age 29)
|Residence||New York City, New York, U.S.|
(Mar 12, 2019)
|Total views||733 million|
(Mar 12, 2019)
|Subscriber and view counts updated as of March 12, 2019.|
Jonathan Aryan Jafari (born March 24, 1990), known by his internet pseudonym JonTron, is an American comedian, reviewer, and internet personality. He reviews video games, movies, and television shows of varying genres in a retrospective and comedic manner in his YouTube web series JonTron. Jafari was co-creator and former co-host of the Let's Play webseries Game Grumps, and co-created the video game entertainment website NormalBoots. As of March 2019[update], his YouTube channel JonTronShow has 5.2 million subscribers and 733 million views.
In early 2017, Jafari faced backlash from media outlets and fans after making public comments on race and immigration. Jafari's comments were characterized by news commentators as aligning with far-right or alt-right politics. Shortly after the backlash to these statements, he stepped down as an active member of NormalBoots.
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.
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. 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. According to Jafari in an episode of the Internet gaming webseries Game Grumps, Jacques was originally to speak in a stereotypical jive voice, with Jafari's mouth being super-imposed onto the character's face rather than his eyes glowing red whenever he talked. Jafari has reviewed numerous video game adaptations of popular franchises such as Hercules, Barbie, Home Alone and Conan the Barbarian. He has also reviewed various unlicensed games, particularly based on the Pokémon franchise as well as Disney films. 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. Jafari also occasionally uploads skits as well as movie reviews. His most popular video was his review of the advertisement for the adhesive tape Flex Tape titled "Waterproofing My Life With FLEX TAPE" with 34 million views as of December 2018 (The sequel was uploaded on December 2, 2018, titled "Flex Tape II: The Flexening").
According to Jafari in an episode of gaming webseries Game Grumps, JonTron began achieving notability after a post on Reddit featuring Jafari's review of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System game DinoCity reached #1 on the website.
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. Both channels have fewer than 25,000 subscribers.
JonTronShow reached 1 million subscribers in 2014.
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. 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. Jafari's video helped create notability on this subject, and lead to thousands of signatures on a Change.org petition.
On December 2, 2018 a video titled 'Flex Tape 2: The Flexening' was uploaded to his main channel, thus breaking his 11-month YouTube hiatus.
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. NormalBoots was relaunched on January 24, 2014, with the addition of other video game-focused channels ProJared and Satchbag's Goods. It was announced on May 18, 2017 that Jafari would no longer be an active part of the group, but still remain as a founding member.
Jafari met animator Arin "Egoraptor" Hanson, of whom he had been a fan since the early 2000s, when the latter messaged him on YouTube shortly after his review of DinoCity grew popular. The two eventually became close friends, and in July 2012, Jafari and Hanson announced they would be starting a Let's Play series titled Game Grumps through videos on both their channels. 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. On the Game Grumps channel, Jafari and Hanson played games together, typically ones that were retro or nostalgic in style, and commented over them with their own comedic inputs. On June 25, 2013 it was announced that Jafari had left Game Grumps in order to focus on JonTron, and was replaced by Ninja Sex Party singer Dan Avidan on the same day. The announcement was met with backlash by certain fans for its sudden and unexpected announcement without any lead-up, as well as the channel announcing the debut of the spin-off series, Steam Train, on the same day that Jafari's departure was disclosed.
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. 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
Jafari has provided voice-over work for A Hat in Time, a video game by Gears for Breakfast. He also recorded voice work for Playtonic Games' 3D platforming video game Yooka-Laylee, but the content was removed from the game in a day one patch in light of his controversial statements on race (see § 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.
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." 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. Shortly afterwards, many outlets criticized his statements and specifically questioned his claim about crimes committed by wealthy blacks.
His comments were followed by strong backlash within his fanbase, with partners noting a minor loss of subscribers. Kotaku reported that many of Jafari's longtime fans felt uncomfortable with these views, but still watch his content. Jafari posted a statement on YouTube on March 19, attempting to address some of his own controversial arguments from the stream. 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.
Jafari recorded voice parts for a minor character in the game Yooka-Laylee. In response to the controversy, an update was issued the same day as the game's April 2017 release to remove and replace Jafari's voice. Jafari was kept as a voice talent in A Hat in Time, another game which he had been involved in, despite the controversy, which resulted in mixed reaction, with some people refusing to purchase the game if he was included in the game.
In November 2017, Jafari appeared on a podcast with h3h3productions; here, he spoke further about his statements, stating that he shouldn't have gone into the subjects he went into without any prior preparation, and elaborating that he didn't hold any racist views, while he also stated that he wished people could "[talk] about these things without witch hunting each other". Despite this, he declined to retract his statements.
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.
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." 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".
|2016||Asagao Academy: Normal Boots Club||Jon|
|2017||Yooka-Laylee||Toilet||Replaced with another voice in day 1 patch.|
|2017||A Hat in Time||Receptionist Bird|
|2012–13||Game Grumps||Himself||636 episodes|
|2012–13||TOME: Terrain of Magical Expertise||Sniperwheel||3 episodes|
|2016||Smart Guys||Guy||Episode 3: "Recruitment"|
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Jafari, who is half Iranian, half Hungarian himself, later backtracked on some of these views, saying "I wasn't prepared for a debate of this sort with these sort of sensitive topics at hand."
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