So, has PewDiePie finally gone too far? Disney has dropped its partnership with the YouTube star, following a number of videos he posted, that were deemed racist and anti-Semitic. The axing of the deal referenced “the inappropriate” videos. PewDiePie has since argued that the videos were simply for entertainment, and not political in nature at all.
PewDiePie – real name Felix Kjellberg – is a Swedish YouTuber who gained massive popularity uploading “Let’s Play” videos of him playing videogames with his own commentary and reactions. At 53 million subscribers – and climbing – he boasts the biggest fanbase on YouTube by far.
In 2012, he partnered with Maker Studios, which was purchased by Disney as a subsidiary in 2014. Though he originally threatened to depart last year, the launch of his platform Revelmode convinced him to stay. Revelmode was an entertainment network that featured offered digital content and merchandise, but was also a jumping off point for philanthropic initiatives.
Across the years, PewDiePie gained his infamy for being extremely irreverent in his videos. In his humor, it seemed like nothing was off-limits. He cursed incessantly on playthroughs and often made un-PC jokes. It had, however, always been considered in good fun; his positive energy continued to attract viewership. Despite his consistently graphic content and commentary, Disney’s Maker Studios allowed him his own editorial freedom.
They seem to have drawn a line somewhere, though. A video he posted last month featured some hired actors holding up a sign that read “Death To All Jews” (he was trying to see if the channel, Fiverr, would actually push through with an outrageous request).
The offensive moment in question is at the 11:25 mark of the video below:
He also featured another channel’s content of a parody Jesus saying that “Hitler did nothing wrong”. Wall Street Journal also reported that he had made anti-Semitic jokes and shown Nazi imagery in at least nine videos since last August. The damage was done; Disney followed up by canceling their deal with him.
Entertainment, Not Political Commentary
The backlash has since incited some response from the people involved. First, the actors who held up the offensive sign posted an apology message:
PewDiePie himself then wrote a post explaining his stance, clarifying that he didn’t support actual messages of hate:
I was trying to show how crazy the modern world is, specifically some of the services available online…
I think of the content that I create as entertainment, and not a place for any serious political commentary… Though this was not my intention, I understand that these jokes were ultimately offensive.
Disney’s choice to cut ties with PewDiePie creates a discussion of how far YouTubers can go, and how edgy they can get on their videos. It’s clear that studios, such as Maker Studios, enjoyed the popularity of Kjellberg’s content. At least, until the so-called “Anti-Semitic” videos. In an age where misinformation has the potential to spread, care in the balancing act is now needed more than ever.
Thoughts? Sound off in the comments below!