In an explosive new video, YouTube star PewDiePie fired back at the Wall Street Journal report that caused both Disney and YouTube to cut ties with him, over videos containing anti-Semitic messages.
PewDiePie, a 27 year old from Sweden named Felix Kjellberg, whose foul-mouthed gaming videos have netted him 53 million subscribers, made $US15 million in 2016, according to Forbes.
But the world’s highest-earning YouTube star had a dramatic fall from grace earlier this week, when YouTube cancelled the second season of his show on their premium service, YouTube Red, and Disney’s Maker Studios backed out of a joint venture with him.
These drops came after a Wall Street Journal review of Kjellberg’s channel, which concluded that he’d posted nine videos since August that “include anti-Semitic jokes or Nazi imagery.”
On Monday, Kjellberg published a furious response to the report. “It was an attack by the media to try and discredit me, to try and decrease my influence, and my economic worth,” he said in a YouTube video.
He characterised the report as part of a pattern of media animosity toward YouTube stars. “The media generally doesn’t like us very much … because they are scared of us,” he said.
Kjellberg took significant time to address one particular video, which had received the most criticism. That video from January 11, since taken down, featured Kjellberg hiring two men to make a sign that read “Death to All Jews,” using the freelancer website Fiverr, which allows users to hire freelancers to perform various tasks for $US5. (YouTube pulled ads from the video.)
“My intention was just to show how stupid the website is and how far you could push it by paying five dollars,” Kjellberg said.
“A lot of people loved the video, and a lot of people didn’t,” he said. “And it’s almost like two generations of people arguing whether this is ok or not.” While he admitted that the joke had gone too far, he only apologised for his words insofar as, “I know they offended people.”
Kjellberg didn’t blame Disney or YouTube for cutting ties with him, and said they were forced to do so by the report. Beyond cancelling his premium show, “Scare PewDiePie,” YouTube also removed Kjellberg from its preferred advertising program.
As to White nationalists supporting his videos, Kjellberg said that he does “not support these hateful groups in any way.”
Kjellberg wound down his video by declaring that the “reaction and outrage has been nothing but insanity.”
“I’m still here, I’m still making videos. Nice try Wall Street Journal,” he said. “Try again mother*******,” he went on, flipping off the camera.
Watch the full video here: