It seems like Pewdiepie, the most popular YouTuber on the service, has been dropped by his network Maker Studios after he posted a video on his channel that featured an anti-Semitic slogan. Maker Studios and its parent company Disney have decided to cut ties with the popular Let’s Player, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg. While the offending video has since been deleted by Kjellberg, the internet wouldn’t be the internet without the video almost instantly being reuploaded to a different channel:
In his video, Kjellberg used a website called Fiverr, a website where people can exchange services for 5 dollar a pop. Using this service, Kjellberg found a duo that would prominently feature a sign with a custom phrase in a video. The text chosen by Kjellberg was the very friendly-sounding “Death to all Jews” with the duo advertising another controversial YouTuber by the name of Keemstar as part of the order. The order was carried out and was edited into a video on Kjellberg’s channel, showing his shocked reaction when he saw that the duo actually did what he asked. Despite all this, Kjellberg uploaded the video including an apology to his channel.
This understandably angered a lot of people, causing the internet hate machine to set its sights on Kjellberg’s channel, which culminated in the Pewdiepie channel being dropped by the Maker Studios content network, which is owned by entertainment giant Disney, ending a years-old partnership.
Although Felix has created a following by being provocative and irreverent, he clearly went too far in this case and the resulting videos are inappropriate.
-Maker Studios, Wall Street Journal.
The two people in the video are Indian content creators on Fiverr who did not understand English well enough to understand the message on the banner. Because of this, Kjellberg has asked Fiverr to undo the ban issued against them after the video was posted to the Pewdiepie channel.
Kjellberg’s sense of humor has always centered around being deliberately offensive for the sake of comedy, but not everyone understands that the things he is saying aren’t meant to be taken seriously. This video apparently convinced Neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer that Pewdiepie himself is a white supremacist, saying that “a guy with 52 million YouTube subscribers is subtly pushing esoteric Hitlerist magic to his base under the guise of humor. This is for real. 2017 and PewDiePie is a leading neo-Nazi white supremacist”.
Following the controversy, Kjellberg posted an update on his Tumblr page explaining his part of the story some more:
It came to my attention yesterday that some have been pointing to my videos and saying that I am giving credibility to the anti-Semitic movement, and my fans are part of it as well for watching. I don’t want to cite the sources because I don’t want to give them any more attention.
This originated from a video I made a couple of weeks ago. I was trying to show how crazy the modern world is, specifically some of the services available online. I picked something that seemed absurd to me—That people on Fiverr would say anything for 5 dollars.
I think it’s important to say something and I want to make one thing clear: I am in no way supporting any kind of hateful attitudes.
I make videos for my audience. I think of the content that I create as entertainment, and not a place for any serious political commentary. I know my audience understand that and that is why they come to my channel. Though this was not my intention, I understand that these jokes were ultimately offensive.
As laughable as it is to believe that I might actually endorse these people, to anyone unsure on my standpoint regarding hate-based groups: No, I don’t support these people in any way.
Update: It seems like YouTube is weighing in on the situation with some consequences of their own. Kjellberg’s show on YouTube Red, the video website’s subscription service that offers exclusive content to subscribers, has now been canceled as a result of the controversy surrounding the video. While the new season seems unlikely to make an appearance on YouTube, you can still watch the first season if you’re a subscriber to the service. A YouTube representative told the people over at TechCrunch the following:
We’ve decided to cancel the release of “Scare PewDiePie” Season 2 and we’re removing the PewDiePie channel from Google Preferred.
This means that Kjellberg’s channel won’t be on the recommended list for advertisers looking to advertise their brands on YouTube’s most popular channels. Kjellberg will still be able to run ads on his channel but he will earn less because of his removal from the program.
I don’t believe anyone in their right mind believes that the comments made by Pewdiepie are anything more than a dumb joke meant to shock people for comedic value. However, this doesn’t change the fact that it was offensive to a lot of people, and Disney understandably doesn’t want to be associated with someone who casually throws racial slurs like this on his channel, which is followed by a very large amount of people in their early teens. It’s fine that he wants to be controversial and I don’t think he should be silenced as a result, but the decision by Disney to stop supporting his channel is nothing more than a business decision to protect their own image and that’s fine too.