The Walt Disney Company (No. 38 on the DiversityInc 2016 Top 50 Companies for Diversity list) ended its contract with Swedish YouTube star PewDiePie after an investigation uncovered a series of anti-Semitic videos.
PewDiePie, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, ran his business with Disney subsidiary Maker Studios, which said on Monday it was severing ties with the comedian. The Wall Street Journal discovered nine videos on his channel, dating back to August, featuring Nazi imagery or anti-Semitic commentary.
“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,” a Maker Studios spokeswoman told the Journal. “Maker Studios has made the decision to end our affiliation with him going forward.”
“We will continue to be as diverse as we possibly can,” says Dungey.
In January 2016, Kjellberg debuted the first season of his reality show, “Scare PewDiePie” on YouTube Red, which follows him exploring sets from famous video games while he provided commentary.
A YouTube spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday that the company has canceled the second season, and taken his channel, which has some 53 million followers, off Google Preferred, its premium advertising service. Kjellberg’s show was one of the first series on YouTube Red — the paid subscription-streaming platform. The cost of a subscription is $9.99 a month and comes with exclusive content.
Some of the recent videos on his YouTube channel, which is reported to have an estimated 14 billion video views, have included Nazi messages, images of Adolf Hitler and explicit anti-Semitic commentary.
In one of the videos published January 11, Kjellberg said he paid Indian men to hold up a sign saying “Death to All Jews.” According to the Journal the men apologized publicly in a video, saying, “we don’t really know what the message means.” The video was pulled from YouTube this past weekend.
This is a compilation of what was found in the questionable videos. Warning: Contains graphic language:
Kjellberg made Time magazine’s 2016 list of the world’s 100 most influential people. Similar to other Internet stars, Kjellberg said he made money from advertising deals with brands.
“It’s not something I’m trying to hide,” Kjellberg told Time in May. “It’s not like I have to be, like, ‘This bagel is delicious, I love it, it’s my favorite.’”
He was the highest paid YouTube star in 2016, earning $15 million.
In a Tumblr posting over the weekend he defended his content, saying he did not endorse hate-based groups.
“I think of the content that I create as entertainment, and not a place for any serious political commentary,” he said. “I know my audience understands that, and that is why they come to my channel.”