Def Noodles speaking into microphone on blue to purple gradient background Passionfruit Remix

Def Noodles/YouTube

Def Noodles’ new direction alienated fans—how did we get here?

The move strained the already-fraught trust he had from fans.

 

Steven Asarch

Internet Culture

Posted on Oct 4, 2022

Dennis Feitosa has had one hell of a month. 

Better known online and to his 550,000 YouTube subscribers as Def Noodles, the content creator has been in one controversy after the next. He shoved another YouTuber off the stage at his comedy show, got temporarily suspended from Twitch after a stripper took off her top on stream, and had an employee quit after she claimed he took her to Burning Man without proper preparation.  

Starting out posting comedy sketches and reactions online, he’s best known as a drama channel and news aggregator, posting about celebrities and influencers daily on his Twitter and YouTube. Most notably, when James Charles was accused of sexting minors in February 2021, Feitosa was the one who collected and tweeted the multiple allegations before news outlets even noticed. 

“I report the news which is the most banal and irrelevant stories that anybody could be talking about,” Feitosa told Vulture in a March 2021 podcast. “This is all soft journalism and a lot of the time it’s just presented with such seriousness, and people take it so seriously.”

For the past few years, Feitosa has positioned himself as a satirist and comedian, not a journalist. In his Def Noodles persona, he wore cat ears and talked from inside a Minecraft house, claiming the character was a gag, even when he was discussing very serious topics. After his Twitter account got suspended in July 2021 (though it’s now been reinstated), he “retired” the look that brought him into the limelight. Spending much of 2022 attempting to rebrand his channel, he started posting vlogs from events like the Gathering of the Juggalos and hosting comedy roast battles. 

It’s not actually surprising that Feitosa has changed up his content since his rise in late 2019. Feitosa’s content has consistently shifted over the past decade, so seeing this new string of moves isn’t entirely out of the ordinary. But the move strained the already-fraught trust he had from fans, which had already been complicated by half-truths he’d shared throughout his career, like that he’s 27 years old when he is really 37 and false allegations against Charles. As people question what the creator is doing at present, it’s worth looking at how the creator has acted in the past to give onlookers a better understanding of who Def Noodles actually is.  

Before the Cat

Feitosa was born in Morristown, New Jersey, and raised in Brazil, according to his IMDb. His father, Francisco, worked at Warner Bros., eventually becoming the executive director of WarnerMedia Latin America in 2003. 

“After school or the weekend, I’d make these short films with my brother,” Feitosa said in a July live stream. “Sophomore year I started doing it in school and realized this is something I could do.” 

According to a now-deleted blog from 2013, he attended film school in California, but he struggled, dropping out “at least three times.” He also developed a fascination with the life of an artist. His disillusionment on form, and knack for reimagining himself to stay popular with trends, has been a core tenet of his online activity. Whether it’s adapting to the algorithms to grow a platform or switching up his style when a persona gets stale, Feitosa is all about creating what he thinks is quality, previous standards be damned.  

“When I started off I focused on aesthetics, I wanted to dominate my craft, but now that I’ve honed it, I’ve found technique to be worthless,” Feitosa wrote. “It can be chewed up and vomited by any uncreative type.” 

In 2011, Feitosa started working at Damon Dash’s DD172 media company directing The Blueroc Festival documentary and a music video for rapper Curren$y. Four years later, he worked at Univision’s now-defunct comedy branch Flama, where he wrote and starred in a handful of viral videos. 

Stand-up comedy became a huge passion for Feitosa; he performed at clubs in Los Angeles and New York City after graduation. 

From there, it seems his work in film and television died down, and he focused more on the world of social media. His Def Churras YouTube channel was created in 2012, though the earliest video on the channel is a music video about being “funemployed” from 2017. (The rest of the channel features react and gameplay videos of Feitosa speaking Portuguese from 2020.) 

The Def Noodles channel was created in October 2018, with Feitosa posting daily reactions to concert footage and viral videos with a focus on the Philippines. By December of that year, Feitosa built up 22,000 subscribers and created his Twitter account. 

“In 2018, I was broke living in a room and had no space to film videos,” Feitosa said in a July video. “I set up a green screen in my kitchen, to my roommate’s disapproval, and was filming 3 feet away from the kitchen sink.”

Over the next year, he would start asking for video recommendations from fans that were mostly viral videos and reached over 200,000 subscribers on YouTube, according to Social Blade. 

The Blow Up

On Nov. 12, 2019, Feitosa uploaded “Brent Rivera is Cringe.” While it was a seemingly innocuous video discussing the vlogger, it laid the groundwork for his rise as an internet culture commentator, showing off the Minecraft house background and discussing YouTube drama. Over the next few weeks, he’d create videos about Onision, Charli D’Amelio, and Jake Paul. These videos seemed to pull in views more consistently, with his channel hitting 1.2 million views in July 2019.   

On Instagram and Twitter, he’d post news multiple times a day, combing social media for the biggest stories around. In July 2020 alone, he posted 1,055 tweets, according to Social Blade. Though his YouTube channel took a more comical approach to sharing content, his tweets at the time were fairly dry and focused on news, like the rising deaths due to COVID and footage of parties happening during the lockdown. 

In a September 2020 tweet, Feitosa addressed the difference in tone, writing that his Twitter content was a “satirical take on internet news” and that his persona was just a “character.” 

“My page is currently an experiment on how to achieve The Colbert Report’s tone in tweet format,” Feitosa tweeted. “It’s meant to be understated, which opens the possibility for a lot of misunderstanding whether it’s satire or not.” 

His growth was staggering, leading him to new opportunities. He co-hosted an award show on the H3 Podcast and appeared on the fourth episode of Discovery’s Onision: In Real Life docu-series. 

But in July 2021, his Twitter account was suspended for repeated rule breaking and Feitosa decided to retire the cat-eared personality to be more of himself online, saying in a video he “wanted to introduce new ideas into the channel.” Rebranding his videos into “Irrelevant News” segments, he continued posting about internet stories on his channel but this time with more jokes and more of his opinions on what he was covering. 

Comedy Roasts and Clubs

Mid-2022, after years of posting daily news content, Feitosa went for another change in content. With a new Los Angeles studio and team behind him, he ditched the green screen backdrop and decided that he wanted comedy to be his main focus. 

“I started to feel constrained by the format,” Feitosa said in a July 2022 video. “At some point, I wanted to be able to talk outside the character and from my own perspective, but my loyalty to the character made it hard.” 

Feitosa said in an August video that he’s currently running multiple businesses, including a comedy club and podcast studio. 

“I make these videos for fun; I’m going to make them however the fuck I want,” he said.

But this new direction in content was marred in its own series of controversies. 

His active feud with Daniel “Keemstar” Keem, the controversial host of DramaAlert, is a consistent talking point for critics and drama channels. In May 2022, Feitosa sued Keem for “defamatory statements” after Keem tweeted that Feitosa “allegedly groomed girls from ages 12-15.” Feitosa claims that “those who read and commented on the tweet clearly understood it as stating actual verifiable facts.” The case is still ongoing.

After he filed the lawsuit, Feitosa was seen as a hypocrite by outspoken online content creators who felt Feitosa was doing exactly what he accused Keem of under the disguise of a joke. In July 2022, Feitosa tweeted that fellow drama channel host Papa Gut “looks like a pedophile” and made merchandise of an image of Gut crying taken from a stream where he was listening to a survivor’s sexual assault story.

“I think Dennis is an incredibly fragile and egotistical person and him getting access to Twitter again caused him to spiral,” Papa Gut told Passionfruit.

He started a series of “roast battle” comedy shows, where comedians would go on stage and insult one another. The first was live-streamed and highly dissected by the online community, with over 1,000 people watching on Twitch. The second turned into a major spectacle and topic of online conversation after Feitosa pushed YouTuber SalvoPancakes who had been causing a commotion and starting chants at the show. 

The clip of the push went viral, and combined with Feitosa’s already controversial antics, brought the drama to an even larger audience. He started spending more time on podcasts, live streams, and Twitter Spaces that fueled a cycle of animosity from other creators who are unsure of what he’s going to do next. Dozens of YouTube videos with titles like “Def Noodles Seriously Needs To Be Stopped” and “DEF NOODLES DOWNFALL CONTINUES!” have hundreds of thousands of views between them. Hate fuels clicks and these channels are capitalizing on the audience that wants to constantly keep up with his antics. 

“I think the internet has a lot of theories about a person who’s probably just doing the best they can with what they have,” Ernesto Ledezma, who was a comedian at the second roast battle, told Passionfruit. “There’s no degree in YouTubing or being an influencer. These are made up jobs with made up guidelines that can shift and change at any moment. One day they love you. Next day they hate you.” 

Just days after the second roast battle, Tiana Renay, an employee of Feitosa, publicly announced she was quitting after he took her to Burning Man to film a vlog. She claims Feitosa went to the event in the middle of the desert without proper water or food and that he was overall insufficiently prepared for the trip. Feitosa allegedly responded by threatening legal action. Renay did not respond to multiple requests for comment. 

Prior to the third roast battle, Feitosa tweeted that Chris D’Elia, who was accused of sexually exploiting a minor, would be his opponent for the event. Instead, he had an imposter show up.

This new approach to content has not boded well with his audience. He’s already lost 54,000 subscribers since his peak of 600,000 in April on YouTube, according to Social Blade. 

Feitosa doesn’t seem to care that he’s been sucked into the drama, straddling the line between reporting on or being the controversy. In the eyes of his onlookers, these many controversies, attacks, and hypocrisies have sullied whatever reputation he had in the world of YouTube. But scaring away these stragglers seems to be the point of this behavior. 

“People want to watch me fail, and I’m playing into it. If all those people who want to see me fail go away, we really get our core audience,” Feitosa said in a September live stream. “I know what people want from me and I’m playing that role.” 

Feitosa did not respond to Passionfruit’s requests for comment.

Editor’s note: This author previously feuded with Def Noodles on Twitter. He also consulted on the first three episodes of Onision: In Real Life, but not the fourth, which features Feitosa.


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*First Published: Oct 4, 2022, 2:46 pm CDT