So, apparently influential YouTuber PewDiePie was dropped by Disney’s Maker Studios and had a series taken off of YouTube Red for posting several anti-Semitic videos.
I originally wasn’t going to comment on this, as I am not personally familiar with his work, but it’s something that keeps popping up. So, here’s my take on it.
According to an article on NPR (which itself cites the Wall Street Journal), PewDiePie (real name Felix Kjellberg) posted 9 videos since August that contained some kind of anti-Semitic statement, most notable one where he paid a couple of guys in India over Fiverr to hold up a sign saying “death to all Jews” and then posted his reaction. There was also a video where he had a guy dressed up like Jesus say “Hitler did absolutely nothing wrong.”
I really hope that I don’t have to explain why this is fucked up.
Again, I am not familiar with Kjellberg’s work, or with him as a person. I don’t know if he really believes this things. He says he doesn’t, so I think it’s most likely that he’s an idiot who was going for shock value.
A number of Kjellberg’s fans are arguing that YouTube and Maker Studios are denying his “freedom of speech.” This is basically bullshit as well. Kjellberg can still say whatever the fuck that he wants, but Google and Disney don’t need to provide a platform for him. Basically, freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences.
Then there’s the “he was just joking!” excuse. The thing with that is that ironic antisemitism is still fucking antisemitism. You are still normalizing this kind of attitude to the people who actually believe that Jewish people are less than human, which is backed up by the fact that neo-Nazi news site The Daily Stormer seems to fucking love him, and had this to say:
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.
Kjellberg himself has stated that this was meant to be satire, that he “was trying to show how crazy the modern world is, specifically some of the services available online.” Dude, there are ways to do that without resorting to the method above.
Also, please explain to me how statements like “death to all Jews” are meant to be funny, in this or any context, because apparently I just don’t fucking get it.
In a Tumblr post, Kjellberg went on to say the following:
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.
Dude, you don’t get to say shit (or pay people to say shit) like “Hitler did nothing wrong” and then wonder why people think you support literal Nazis. It’s because you’re speaking their fucking language.
I mean, seriously. Once The Daily fucking Stormer starts endorsing you, it’s probably time to start rethinking what it is you’re doing.