Felix Kjellberg otherwise known as PewDiePie has recently been marketing himself as the soft-core interpretation of alt-right poster-boy and provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. Today, it seems it went too far for the likes of Disney and their subsidiary Maker Studios which owns the majority of major YouTube stars such as PewDiePie, today they decided to disown Kjellberg for his recent tirade of Nazi themed comedy. Later on in the day YouTube itself decided to cancel Kjellberg’s recently filmed YouTube Red series ‘Scare PewDiePie 2’ and also demonetise the majority of his videos.
It begs the question, is the perception of the ‘ethical choice’ more important to producers than the financial benefits? PewDiePie as a channel has over 53,000,000 subscribers and is coming up to over 15,000,000,000 video views overall. It is the most subscribed and watched channel in the history of YouTube and therefore by de facto, it is YouTube. PewDiePie’s channel is estimated to bring in over $15,000,000 per year in revenue.
PewDiePie’s seemingly lengthy downfall begins when YouTube started to demonetise many of his videos which featured what they deemed ‘offensive’ content. The decision by Disney to sever all ties with Kjellberg rests finally, but not exclusively, with a recent video of where he paid two Indians on crowd-sourcing site Fiver to hold up a banner reading “Death the all Jews” whilst dancing in front of a camera in traditional dress. Both Kjellberg and the ‘funny guys’ were banned from Fiver before later on the Indian pair were reinstated.
It seems PewDiePie screwed up much of the criticism written about his videos and thew it away in its entirety, favouring the right to free expression and the increasingly provocative content instead. Many of his videos which were sure to incite Disney against him included featuring the Nazi Anthem, videos of Hitler speeches and numerous scenes featuring Swastikas and Nazi clothing. I am unsure as to what the average age of his viewers is, however I know that his content has definitely been for more mature audiences as of recently.
It’s fairly clear to a fan like me and to many others in the YouTube community such as comparatively small-fry Casey Neistat, that Kjellberg has no motivation to create any content that causes racial aggravation of any kind. Kjellberg seems to simply be creating his form of comedy around a particular stereotype and idea, he often uses this theme to portray the wider internet and often mock other YouTubers in the process.
Freedom of speech and a sense of humour is important in the content I watch, he and his fans clearly have no ill will and whilst I understand Disney and YouTube’s decision to get rid of PewDiePie, I also believe they are severely harming not just their reputation but a sizeable amount of their users in the process. In terms of what I think… I find it utterly hilarious.