Disney Severs Ties With PewDiePie After Anti-Semitic Videos
“Maker Studios has made the decision to end our affiliation with him going forward.”
Disney has cut ties with YouTube personality Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg in the wake of anti-Semitic content found on his channel.
According to a review from the Wall Street Journal, nine of Kjellberg's videos contained anti-Semitic imagery, including Nazi salutes, swastikas, and shots of Hitler. One video included someone dressed as Jesus Christ, saying "Hitler did absolutely nothing wrong." Using freelancing site Fiverr, Kjellberg also commissioned an Indian comedy duo to hold up a sign that read "Death to All Jews," while laughing.
In a response to the controversy, Kjellberg posted to Tumblr, stating he 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 five dollars." He took pains to state that he in no way supports "any kind of hateful attitudes," and thinks it laughable that anyone would believe he would endorse hate-based groups. "I make videos for my audience," he wrote, "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." The post closes with "thanks for reading," without any form of concrete apology.
Disney's partnership with Kjellberg was extended via Maker Studios, a video production company acquired by the entertainment giant in 2014. Kjellberg was given co-ownership of the multi-channel network Revelmode as part of the deal. In a statement to the WSJ, a Maker Studios spokesperson said "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 spokesperson said Kjellberg had full editorial independence as part of the deal, and that "Maker Studios has made the decision to end our affiliation with him going forward."
Jonathan Vick of the Anti-Defamation League told the WSJ that even pretending to espouse hateful views does damage. "Just putting it out there brings it more and more into the mainstream," he said.
YouTube has thus far declined to comment.
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