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Disney Promptly Drops YouTube Star PewDiePie for Anti-Semitic Content, Nazi Images

PewDiePie’s channel has more than 53 million followers and 14 billion video views.

Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg

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.”

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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.”

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18 comments

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  • ““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.”

    Same stuff Jon Stewart would try to pull when occasionally confronted with some of the lies and cruelties he broadcast on his Not Really the News show – “Hey, relax, guy, I’m just a comic being comical!” And also somewhat the same slack we’ve collectively cut various politicians in the last few years – Obama’s “They bring a knife, we bring a gun!”, Biden’s comments about Obama being the first clean black running for president, and, of course, Trump’s (and a couple other Republicans’) name-calling – nasty, ugly, short, clown, blood coming out of her whatever…

    Disney’s done the right thing here, but the You Tube community won’t. How many followers and views do you think PewDiePie’ll lose over this, five or nine?

    Reply
    • Michael J. "Orange Mike" Lowrey

      Some false equivalencies here: if you can’t tell the difference between Obama quoting a famous movie line, and “funny” Nazi imagery, you should not be commenting on popular culture at all.

      Reply
      • So Obama’s allowed the Stewart Clause, too? How ’bout Biden, then, saying that Obama was the first “clean” black to run for President in America? Or former Senate Majority Leader, Nevada Democrat Harry Reid, who had to apologize for describing Obama as a “light-skinned” African American “with no Negro dialect, except when he wants to have one”?

        Reply
  • Many a true word is spoken in jest…

    I believe individuals often hide their hate speech within humor.

    Reply
  • As a dark skinned individual that has watched plenty of Pewdiepie videos. The guy isn’t racist at all. This is just a big corporation protecting their interests and a bunch of people over-reacting. If you ever watched Dave Chappelle you would call him racist, but he’s obviously not. He’s poking fun at racism and the stupidity of the world overall. Comments here demonstrate an echo chamber, and getting heated over information without context.

    Reply
    • You’re wrong.

      The video of him laughing at his own stunt – he paid for two dark skinned guys to unfurl a banner saying “death to the Jews” was blood chilling.

      There were layers of cruelty in it – he didn’t have the blonde-haired, blue-eyed guts to hold up the banner himself, so he used a freelance site to hire two dark skinned Indian guys to do it for him. This way he mocked both the Indians and the Jews at the same time. I’m sure he feels sorry now. He’s not going to make $14 million next year.

      The two Indian guys certainly are – here’s their apology https://youtu.be/a8fucBzAL-.

      Reply
      • Yes, and the digging himself in deeper in his “apology” with the “joke” about “The Jews” and Jesus? That smirk? Chilling again. The idea that he thought he could do that as part of the “apology” indicates how deep-seated his anti-Semitism really lies.

        Reply
  • Michael J. "Orange Mike" Lowrey

    Sometimes “daring” and “edgy” are just euphemisms for “jerk exploiting white and/or male privilege to say and do vile things”.

    Reply
  • Ms Multiracial

    Such “blatant” stupidity and out right racism. SHAME on you in this diverse world we live in. What if the shoe was on the other foot – probably wouldn’t be so funny. YOU are an embarrassment to your “white race.” The unfortunate part of all of this is there’s so many just like you in this world.

    Reply
  • Thank for removing this not-funny person. If you need to denegrate an entire ethnicity in order to get a laugh, well, you are just not either amusing or entertaining. Hateful language often leads to hateful actions.

    Reply
  • Racists in AmeriKKKa have a lot of followers. Kjellberg is no exception. Jews need to wake up and realize that they have a lot of hidden enemies, but they are delusional and believe that everyone loves them. A holocaust could happen again in the 21st century. People don’t learn from history. People are defined by what they consider “funny” or “entertaining;” this is not entertaining political commentary.

    Reply
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