Swedish YouTube sensation, Felix Kjellberg, commonly known as PewDiePie, is the world’s most subscribed to YouTuber, making millions of dollars every year. A number of weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal published a piece on the anti-Semitic content of his videos. Consequently, Disney, which had made a business deal with the renowned YouTuber, and Google, which owns YouTube and had plans for Kjellberg to star in his own show, both dropped their sponsorships.
Many have critiqued Disney and Google for cutting contact with PewDiePe, who has reiterated again and again that he is not anti-Semitic. After the incident, he explicitly renounced any forms of bigoted hate on his Tumbler account. Kjellberg wrote:
“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.”
“I make videos for my audience. I think of the content that I create as entertainment, and not a place for any serious political commentary. I know my audience understand that and that is why they come to my channel. Though this was not my intention, I understand that these jokes were ultimately offensive.”
“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.”
For the reasons expressed above — namely that PewDiePie does not mean to endorse bigotry but, rather, desires to entertain the masses with his videos — many of PewDiePie’s fans support him and his use of anti-Semitic content. Despite Kjellburg’s defense of his channel’s content, his perceived anti-Semitism remains a controversial issue.
Still, with 54 million subscribers, the vlogger’s continuous references to Nazi ideology and Adolf Hitler, whether in the name of absurd humor or as part of the “shock humor” culture that has recently arisen, normalizes Nazism. The Daily Stormer, a white nationalist and neo-Nazi blog, states as much:
“Some may ask “is PewDiePie really racist? Is he really a Nazi? Does he really want to kill all Jews?” Who knows. He could be doing all this only to cause a stir things up and get free publicity. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter, since the effect is the same; it normalizes Nazism, and marginalizes our enemies.”
In the video, two South Asian in loincloths dance, a poster declaring “Death to all Jews” in their hands: There is no question. In his attempt to “entertain,” Pewdiepie went too far. As this expression of anti-Semitism is not an isolated incident, it is almost surprising that this issue did not come into the public eye sooner.
One may watch PewDiePie’s “Death to All Jews” video here.