PewDiePie has been dropped by YouTube Red and Disney following widespread criticism of anti-Semitic references in several videos.
Felix Kjellberg has been dropped from the roster of Disney-owned Maker Studios, and removed from the Google Preferred advertising program, while the second season of his YouTube Red show Scare PewDiePie has been cancelled, all following controversy concerning Nazi images and anti-Semitic references in many videos on his channel over the past six months.
The most widespread incident was last month’s controversy after Felix pranked Fiverr account Funny Guys by paying them to hold a sign saying “DEATH TO ALL JEWS”. This prompted The Wall Street Journal to investigate further, finding nine videos on Felix’s channel with anti-Semitic content or Nazi imagery, such as using a picture of Adolf Hitler as an intertitle, giving a Nazi salute, and paying a man dressed as Jesus to claim “Hitler was right”.
When The WSJ contacted Maker, a worldwide YouTube network owned by Disney, they replied with the following statement: “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 has made the decision to end our affiliation with him going forward.”
Shortly afterwards, a spokesperson for YouTube confirmed that the company had dropped Felix’s association with YouTube Red – cancelling the second season of the Red-exclusive reality series Scare PewDiePie – and removed him from Google Preferred, an advertising system designed to pair up the most popular channels with the biggest advertisers.
The WSJ also reported that Felix’s references had previously drawn positive attention from neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, which temporarily changed its motto to “The world’s #1 PewDiePie fansite” and thanked him for “making the masses comfortable with our ideas”.
Felix recently wrote a Tumblr post on the same subject, stating that his comments were only intended as jokes and that the belief he endorses such views is “laughable”, but also admitting that he “understand[s] that these jokes were ultimately offensive”. Associate Director at the Anti-Defamation League Jonathan Vick criticised this defence, stating that “just putting it out there brings it more and more into the mainstream”.
The news has attracted widespread commentary even from outside of the YouTube community. J.K. Rowling tweeted out a thinkpiece by The Independent on adopting fascist statements as a method of rebellion, while noted critic Film Crit Hulk tweeted out his thoughts on how “shock” jokes can lead to people adopting those views.
It is not yet known what this news means for Revelmode, the network co-owned by Felix and Maker.
Read more about the anti-Semitism controversy surrounding Pewdiepie or find out why his Twitter account was suspended last year. In addition, read about PewDiePie deleting his second channel after reaching 50 million subscribers.