Disney has cut ties with PewDiePie after nine of his videos were found to contain explicit Nazi imagery and racist jokes.
So what were the offensive images in gaming YouTuber PewDiePie’s videos?
According to the Wall Street Journal, these included hiring two dancers in Sri Lanka to hold up a sign saying ‘Death to all Jews’, segueing into different clips using a picture of Hitler, and doing the Nazi salute while a voice-over says ‘Sieg Heil’.
He also paid a Jesus impersonator to say that ‘Hitler did nothing wrong’.
PewDiePie’s success has been monumental – with 53million subscribers and a rough annual income of £11.6million, he is by far the most popular YouTuber – and this has brought him multimillion-pound deals with YouTube and the Walt Disney Co.
But as a result of the WSJ finding a total of nine videos that included anti-Semitic jokes or Nazi imagery, Disney has chosen to sever its ties.
‘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 spokeswoman for Maker Studios, the Disney division that had partnered with PewDiePie, told the WSJ.
They added that Kjellberg had editorial independence under the terms of their agreement.
PewDiePie’s account also took down three videos, which had a total of around 23million views, after the paper contacted him.
After the controversial January 11 video, the two Sri Lankan actors PewDiePie hired to dance and show a sign saying ‘Death to all Jews’ were banned from Fiverr.
The actors posted a follow up video saying saying they were sorry for the sign, and that whilst they knew they were writing something in English, they didn’t understand what the message meant.
PewDiePie himself didn’t respond directly to the WSJ, but he wrote a Tumblr post hoping to ‘clear some things up’.
He said he was just trying to show ‘how crazy the modern world is’, and that he is ‘in no way supporting any kind of hateful attitudes’.
PewDiePie’s response in full
It came to my attention yesterday that some have been pointing to my videos and saying that I am giving credibility to the anti-Semitic movement, and my fans are part of it as well for watching. I don’t want to cite the sources because I don’t want to give them any more attention.
This originated from a video I made a couple of weeks ago. I was trying to show how crazy the modern world is, specifically some of the services available online. I picked something that seemed absurd to me—That people on Fiverr would say anything for 5 dollars.
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.
As a result of the videos, PewDiePie was praised on neo-Nazi and white supremacist websites.
The Daily Stormer, which is described as the ‘top hate site in America’ by the Southern Poverty Law Centre, even went as far as to change its slogan to ‘The world’s #1 PewDiePie fansite’.
It went on to celebrate the YouTuber for ‘making the masses comfortable with our ideas’.