The super popular YouTube star (whom you've only heard of if you have a school-age kid) has been dropped by Disney, after he uploaded a video filled with anti-semitic jokes.
And then defended the video.
Maker Studios, a global digital media brand and a division of Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media, announced it dropped Felix Kjellberg, known by his more than 53 million video subscribers as PewDiePie, from its roster of digital media talent. The separation was first reported by the Wall Street Journal on Monday, and Maker released a statement to Variety explaining their decision:
“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.”
In a short defense and apology on his tumblr, Kjellberg explained that the videos, which have since been removed, were part of an attempt 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."
The $5 task was to hold up a sign that said “death to all Jews.” He hired two people in India through the crowd-sourcing platform and, indeed, they did it.
The zaniness was apparently lost on Google, who pulled their advertising from the video. A week later, Kjellberg uploaded another video defending the whole thing as a joke.
Both of those videos have since been taken down from his YouTube channel.
PewDiePie defended himself in his apology/explanation on tumblr. "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."
He uses the "entertainment" defense and says his channel is not a place for any serious political commentary. No word yet on whether his vast tween following makes that distinction.
"I know my audience understand that and that is why they come to my channel."
Still, some contrition: "Though this was not my intention, I understand that these jokes were ultimately offensive."
Kjellberg has been uploading videos as PewDiePie since 2011. Back then, he used a lot of foul language and made fun of gay people and those with mental handicaps. In April of last year, he lamented some of those earlier days, saying, "I was so immature and I just thought things were funny just because they were offensive." He said he wasn't proud of those shows and that he was glad to be past that stage of his career. He apparent also said that he thought he should go through the archives and do a little censoring.
Nevertheless, he returned to the old schtick, so one has to wonder how geniune the final line in his apology truly is:
"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."