First Disney and now YouTube. It’s been a bad week for Felix Kjellberg, the vlogging sensation known online by his more famous alias, PewDiePie. The popular YouTuber lost his deal with Disney on Monday after a report by The Wall Street Journal discussing several PewDiePie videos with anti-Semitic content.
On Tuesday, Variety reported that YouTube is also dumping the second season of Kjellberg’s original series Scare PewDiePie. The series was exclusively available on YouTubeRed, the site’s subscription service.
In the wake of the controversy over Kjellberg’s anti-semitic content, YouTube told Variety the second season of the show would be cancelled. Kjellberg is also losing out on Google Preferred, the search company’s advertising program that packages top YouTubers’ content that advertisers can buy ad space against. The creators get a bigger cut of the ad revenue than usual and the content is supposed to be popular and “brand safe.”
The content that immersed Kjellberg in this latest controversy stretches across a number of videos—the worst of which appears to have been deleted. A January video that is no longer available, for example, shows Kjellberg using the freelance marketplace Fiverr to get two men in India to hold up a sign that said, “Death to All Jews,” according to The Journal.
In another video that is still available, Kjellberg had his viewers submit images from a game he’d published called Tuber Simulator. As part of the game you create your own YouTuber space. Kjellberg’s contest entrants included some users who’d made a swastika as part of their virtual YouTuber space. Kjellberg also ended another video responding to criticism that he was a racist by watching a Hitler video while wearing a military uniform.
The story behind the story: Although Kjellberg is losing out on significant revenue from his deals with Disney and YouTube, he won’t lose his audience. The PewDiePie channel with its more than 53 million subscribers remains, and it’s unlikely Kjellberg will stop producing videos because of this. It also doesn’t appear he will be prevented from using YouTube’s standard advertising.
In response to the uproar, Kjellberg made the following statement on his Tumblr page prior to Disney and YouTube's actions:
“It came to my attention yesterday that some have been pointing to my videos and saying that I am giving credibility to the anti-Semitic movement, and my fans are part of it as well for watching. I don’t want to cite the sources because I don’t want to give them any more attention.
This originated from a video I made a couple of weeks ago. 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.”