Skip to main content

PewDiePie loses Disney deal as a result of anti-Semitic imagery

PewDiePie loses Disney deal as a result of anti-Semitic imagery

/

He insists he's just joking

Share this story

Disney has cut ties with YouTube sensation Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg after he incorporated anti-Semitic jokes and Nazi references into several of his videos. The move comes after a Wall Street Journal review found that nine of Kjellberg’s videos posted over the last six months featured imagery including swastikas, Nazi salutes, and shots of Hitler. Last month alone, the YouTube star showed a clip of a man dressed as Jesus Christ saying “Hitler did absolutely nothing wrong,” and paid two Indian men to hold up a banner reading “Death to All Jews” via freelancing website Fiverr, but Kjellberg has argued that he is not serious in his use of the imagery.

The entertainment giant had a partnership with Kjellberg through Maker Studios, the video production division that it bought in 2014 for $675 million, and folded into its entertainment division last year. “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 Maker Studios spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal, noting that Kjellberg had editorial independence as part of the deal.

Three videos were removed by Kjellberg after the review, including the January 11th upload that included the “Death to All Jews” banner. Google had pulled its own ads from the video days after it was posted, but did not withdraw advertising from any other videos. YouTube did not pull any of the nine videos in question — nor did it offer comment on the output of Kjellberg, who is one of the site’s biggest stars.

Kjellberg did not reply to The Wall Street Journal directly, but posted a message on his Tumblr page addressing the videos, and attempting to explain why he had paid the men to carry the sign. “I was trying to show how crazy the modern world is, specifically some of the services available online,” Kjellberg said. “I picked something that seemed absurd to me — that people on Fiverr would say anything for 5 dollars.”

“I am in no way supporting hateful attitudes.”

“I am in no way supporting any kind of hateful attitudes,” Kjellberg wrote, saying that he makes videos tailored for his 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.” Kjellberg closed out the statement by taking a stance on “hate-based groups,” saying he “[doesn’t] support these people in any way.”

The YouTube star has repeatedly argued that the context his offensive jokes are told in is important. “It is 2017 now,” Kjellberg said in one of his now-removed January videos. “We’re going to have to start separating what is a joke, and what is actually problematic.” In another video, Kjellberg compares his offensive jokes with an imagined version of himself who actually does hold white supremacist views. “I think there’s a difference between a joke and actual like, fuck, death to all Jews,” he notes.

But Jonathan Vick of the Anti Defamation League, in responding to Kjellberg’s Tumblr post, argues that by even pretending to espouse these views, Kjellberg is doing damage. “Just putting it out there brings it more and more into the mainstream,” he told the WSJ. Indeed, neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer latched on to Kjellberg’s January videos, naming itself “the world’s #1 PewDiePie fansite” for a short time, and thanking the Swedish YouTuber for “making the masses comfortable with our ideas.”

Update February 14th, 9:21AM ET: YouTube has also severed ties with PewDiePie, canceling the release of his original series, Scare PewDiePie, and removing him from the Google Preferred advertising program.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed 1:05 PM UTC Striking out

A
Andrew Webster1:05 PM UTC
Looking for something to do this weekend?

Why not hang out on the couch playing video games and watching TV. It’s a good time for it, with intriguing recent releases like Return to Monkey Island, Session: Skate Sim, and the Star Wars spinoff Andor. Or you could check out some of the new anime on Netflix, including Thermae Romae Novae (pictured below), which is my personal favorite time-traveling story about bathing.


A screenshot from the Netflix anime Thermae Romae Novae.
Thermae Romae Novae.
Image: Netflix
J
Twitter
Jay PetersSep 23
Twitch’s creators SVP is leaving the company.

Constance Knight, Twitch’s senior vice president of global creators, is leaving for a new opportunity, according to Bloomberg’s Cecilia D’Anastasio. Knight shared her departure with staff on the same day Twitch announced impending cuts to how much its biggest streamers will earn from subscriptions.


T
Twitter
Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.


A
External Link
If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.


A
External Link
Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

Running out of semiconductors is one thing, but running out of your own iconic nameplates is just downright brutal. The Wall Street Journal reports badge and nameplate shortages are impacting the automaker's popular F-series pickup lineup, delaying deliveries and causing general chaos.

Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it's been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.


E
TikTok
Spain’s Transports Urbans de Sabadell has La Bussí.

Once again, the US has fallen behind in transportation — call it the Bussí gap. A hole in our infrastructure, if you will.


J
External Link
Jay PetersSep 23
Doing more with less (extravagant holiday parties).

Sundar Pichai addressed employees’ questions about Google’s spending changes at an all-hands this week, according to CNBC.

“Maybe you were planning on hiring six more people but maybe you are going to have to do with four and how are you going to make that happen?” Pichai sent a memo to workers in July about a hiring slowdown.

In the all-hands, Google’s head of finance also asked staff to try not to go “over the top” for holiday parties.


E
External Link
Insiders made the most money off of Helium’s “People’s Network.”

Remember Helium, which was touted by The New York Times in an article entitled “Maybe There’s a Use for Crypto After All?” Not only was the company misleading people about who used it — Salesforce and Lime weren’t using it, despite what Helium said on its site — Helium disproportionately enriched insiders, Forbes reports.


J
Youtube
James VincentSep 23
Nvidia’s latest AI model generates endless 3D models.

Need to fill your video game, VR world, or project render with 3D chaff? Nvidia’s latest AI model could help. Trained on 2D images, it can churn out customizable 3D objects ready to import and tweak.

The model seems rudimentary (the renders aren’t amazing quality and seem limited in their variety), but generative AI models like this are only going to improve, speeding up work for all sorts of creative types.