We haven’t yet reported on the latest ‘scandal’ with Pewdiepie, but I’m sure most people have already heard about it by now: the Wall Street Journal called him out as to posting nine separate anti-semitic videos, and as a result, YouTube cancelled his reality show, dropped him from premium services, and Disney-owned Maker Studios also dropped him from their label.
All in all, it hasn’t been a good week for perhaps the most well-known YouTuber, Pewdiepie, aka Felix Kjellberg.
Today he’s released a video in retaliation to the media backlash:
While Felix does apologise for his anti-Jew humour – "I’m sorry for the words that I used, as I know they offended people and I admit that the joke itself went too far," he says, continuing with "I do strongly believe that you can joke about anything but I also believe there’s a right way, and not the best way, to joke about things." – the brunt of the video plays more like a giant "fuck you" to mainstream press.
In a way you can't blame the guy – I've no doubt that his jokes were intended as just that, and media has blown it entirely out of proportion – but considering his status and the following he has on YouTube and in the wider entertainment industry, he really should have known better to make such insensitive quips. It's a world of political correctness and equality, and there's little room for jokes that mock an entire population of people, even if they are meant as harmless fun. It's been an incredible lapse of judgement on Pewdiepie's part – and he even notes that himself in his video. "I acknowledge that I took things too far, and that’s something that I will definitely keep in mind moving forward," he said.
In his video he was obviously upset – towards the end, he's fighting back tears – and the fact that it's taken him a couple of days in order to record a response to the media outcry leads me to believe he's been going through something of personal turmoil in figuring out how to best deal with it. Even so, his reaction still leaves the impression that he's not taking the whole thing very seriously. He wraps up his part apology, part rant spiel with a "nice try, Wall Street Journal, try again motherfuckers" as he flips off the camera. He's every right to be upset, sure, but it's hardly the most mature way to deal with the situation.
Perhaps that's the entire point – Pewdiepie isn't supposed to be mature; he's made his fortune pratting around in front of a camera for a pubescent audience that get a kick out of hearing him scream and make random noises while playing video games. But where does this leave him? Considering he ended the video with "the 10th Nazi thing that went right past the WSJ" – a joke, but the kind of joke that added fuel to this fire, after all – I can't see him changing his ways.
Obviously with Maker Studios dropping him, and YouTube removing him from their premium services, his income will be affected – but considering he still receives millions of views, it's not like he's going to be towing the breadline using YouTube's standard advertising options. Disney, who own Maker Studios, are synonymous with "family" brands and so always want to stay as far away from controversy as possible, but no doubt there will be other brands who are happy to take him under their more 'edgy' wing.
I've no doubt that after long, the fuss will die down, Pewdiepie will go back to making annoying, cringeworthy videos, and millions of people will continue to watch them. In the end, I think Felix says it best himself: "Instead of celebrating my show getting cancelled, why don't we focus on some real issues?"