PewDiePie, YouTube’s most popular star, is having a really bad day: Hours after Disney announced that they were cutting their ties with him, due to anti-Semitic jokes and videos, Google-owned YouTube has announced they were canceling the second season of his reality show, Scare PewDiePie. According to Engadget, PewDiePie’s popular YouTube channel was also removed from “Google Preferred,” a premium advertising program for popular YouTubers.
Swedish-born PewDiePie, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, has an estimated annual income of more than $12 million, and he’s only 27-years-old. With more than 53 million subscribers, PewDiePie’s YouTube channel is the most popular channel on the streaming service, and it has brought him several multi-million dollar deals with sponsors and studios. He is known for publishing videos of himself playing videos games, as well as running pranks and jokes.
PewDiePie’s latest controversy started when Disney found out about nine recent videos in which PewDiePie included Nazi imagery and anti-Semitic jokes. According to Metro, One of the videos, since deleted, showed two men from Sri Lanka that were hired by PewDiePie on Fiverr. The two men, allegedly at PewDiePie’s request, were shown dancing and holding up a sign that said “Death To All Jews.”
In another video originally posted on PewDiePie’s YouTube channel, the star was wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, and a Swastika was then shown, along with images of Hitler. In other subsequent videos, PewDiePie showed swastikas drawn by his fans, showed a clip from one of Hitler’s speeches, and played the Nazi Party anthem.
Realizing these videos were controversial, on January 17, PewDiePie posted a video (since then deleted as well) in which he tried to defend his actions.
“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. 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***ing matters.”
Shortly after publishing his “explanation” video, PewDiePie hired an actor to impersonate Jesus Christ and say “Hitler did absolutely nothing wrong.”
Following these videos, Disney-owned Maker Studios announced today that they were dropping their joint venture with PewDiePie. As part of the now-cancelled deal, PewDiePie and Maker Studios were going to produce videos, mobiles apps and other merchandise together. In their statement, Maker Studios said that PewDiePie has “clearly gone too far,” and therefore they are ending their affiliation with him.
Following Disney’s decision, PewDiePie’s YouTube series, Scare PewDiePie, has been canceled by Google. The show’s first season was produced by Maker Studios for YouTube Red, YouTube’s video subscription service. The show, with The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman serving as its executive producer, featured PewDiePie exploring sets created to mimic horror video games. On June 23, 2016, YouTube announced that the show would be getting a second season.
Today, however, a YouTube spokesperson released a statement about the cancellation of the show.
“We’ve decided to cancel the release of ‘Scare PewDiePie’ season 2 and we’re removing the PewDiePie channel from Google Preferred.”
At this point, no official comment was given by PewDiePie regarding these latest developments, but on February 12, the vlogger posted a statement on his Tumblr account, addressing the anti-Semitic accusations and claiming that he is in no way supporting hateful attitudes.
“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.
“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.”
With the removal of PewDiePie’s YouTube channel from Google’s premium advertising program, the cancellation of his show and the loss of his deal with Disney, the YouTuber’s reputation and business plans will surely take a major hit. It remains to be seen whether the popular young star can come back from this major blow.
[Featured Image by John Lamparski/Getty Images]