Disney has cut ties with one of the most top-rated YouTube stars, PewDiePie (aka Felix Kjellberg) after the YouTuber put up videos with clips of anti-semitic content on his channel.
PewDiePie’s YouTube channel has more than 53 million subscribers, which itself speaks volumes about the massive reach of Felix Kjellberg on the video sharing network.
The YouTuber, who rose to fame due to his gaming and pranks videos, struck a deal with Disney last year, getting an affiliation with Disney’s Maker Studio, where he ran his own network called Revelmode.
But ever since putting up videos, which apparently had potential to incite hate among his followers, PewDiePie has put his contract with Disney in jeopardy.
A company spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal, “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.”
The three videos put out by the popular YouTube star — which have been removed now — included a clip of a few Sri Lankan guys holding a board that read ‘Death to all Jews’ and another featuring a guy dressed like Jesus, holding a sign that read ‘Hitler did absolutely nothing wrong’.
Kjellberg paid to get both these clips via Fiverr, an online marketplace where freelancers complete a certain job for as low as $5.
Arguing that his channel is apolitical and he doesn’t resent any particular race or religion, the 27-year-old YouTuber stated, “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.”
The Sweden-based YouTuber maintained that he does not support any kind of hateful sentiments towards Jews or any other community for that matter of fact and the videos were intended towards entertaining his audience.
“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. Though this was not my intention, I understand that these jokes were ultimately offensive,” Kjellberg added.
Certainly, having such a big number of following should instil a sense of responsibility in a content provider and since YouTube is watched mostly by a young audience, who may or may not understand the historical reference of such posts — it’s important for viral YouTube influencers such as PewDiePie to act more cautiously.
An expulsion from its current association with Disney doesn’t mean the end of the road for Kjellberg, thanks to YouTube which has given independent creators a large platform to showcase their talent globally.
Maker Studio was acquired by Disney in 2014 and the channel run by PewDiePie has been adding popular and promising YouTuber’s to its network in order to create more relevant content for the audience.
The future of Revelmode, which runs on Kjellberg’s vision, is uncertain as of now and there has been no official comment as to who — if not PewDiePie — will be heading the network.