PewDiePie, the world’s most successful Youtuber, has lost his Disney deal. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, PewDiePie, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, was basically fired by Disney for making videos that were deemed anti-Semitic.
— Game Informer (@gameinformer) February 14, 2017
PewDiePie previously had a deal with multi-channel network Maker Studios, which is owned by Disney, for the production of online content including videos, mobile apps and merchandise.
“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,” Maker Studios said. “Maker Studios has made the decision to end our affiliation with him going forward.”
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The video that seems to have been the nail in the coffin for Disney’s deal with Felix Kjellberg was one in which he paid two men to hold up a sign that said “Death to All Jews.”
The video was uploaded on January 11 and has since been removed from Youtube.
According to Endgadget, in a subsequent video, which was also deleted, Pewdiepie justified his decision to film the video, stating that his intent was to create a comedic moment.
“What I just think — and I believe strongly in — is that it is 2017 now. We’re going to have to start separating what is a joke, and what is actually problematic,” he reportedly said. “Is a joke actually pure racism? Is something that would be considered a joke purely homophobic, or anti-Semitic and all these things? Context f**king matters.”
Kjellberg also added some “context” for his decision to shoot the video via a post on Tumblr. There he said the clip was an examination of modern society and the things people are willing to do for money.
“I picked something that seemed absurd to me — That people on Fiverr would say anything for 5 dollars,” he said. “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.”
He also offered something of an apology.
“Though this was not my intention, I understand that these jokes were ultimately offensive.”
As the Wall Street Journal notes, this isn’t the only video of PewDiePie’s that contains statements and/or images that could be considered anti-Semitic.
In a video that was uploaded on January 22, Mr. Kjellberg displayed a man dressed Jesus Christ who said, “Hitler did absolutely nothing wrong.”
Although he claims that his intent isn’t to spread hateful attitudes, The Guardian reports that his videos have been embraced by The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website.
“He could be doing all this only to cause a stir things up and get free publicity,” The Daily Stormer wrote in an article about the Swedish youtuber. “Ultimately, it doesn’t matter, since the effect is the same; it normalizes Nazism, and marginalizes our enemies.”
— Vlog.life (@vloglifeHQ) February 4, 2017
With the news of Disney severing ties with PewDiePie, many are wondering how much money he stands to lose as a result of the decision.
In 2015, Forbes crowned Felix as the highest paid star on the Google-owned video platform, stating that he raked in $12 million pre-tax in the preceding year. The 27-year-old Youtuber has 53 million subscribers and has been working with Maker Studios since 2012. His deal with Maker was one of the core parts of his business empire, allowing him to transcend Youtube in a way few video creators have been able to do.
At the time, Maker Studios seemed overjoyed to be collaborating with Kjellberg.
“We’re thrilled to be doubling down with Felix. He is an amazing talent, a great partner and the pulse of millennial pop culture,” Executive VP and head of Maker Studios Courtney Holt said at the launch of Revelmode. “We firmly believe in his vision for Revelmode and his chosen creators — we can’t wait to see the possibilities ahead.”
One wonders what will be the future of Revelmode, now that Disney has cut ties with Pewdiepie.
[Featured Image by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images]