Ever since the Wall Street Journal released its ‘investigative journalism’ on the youtuber Pewdiepie(Felix Kjellberg), Disney Maker Studios has ended their longtime partnership with Felix, and Youtube has cancelled a show that he produced and has removed him from their Google Preferred Ad program. Now most main-stream media outlets have released articles on Felix’s supposed antisemitism, and how he’s a darling of the nazi alt-right.
The allegations raised that there were several videos on Felix’s youtube channel that had anti Semitic messages, such as one where he paid two men on the site Fiverr to hold up a sign that read: Death to all Jews, while dancing, and another where he dressed up in a brown military outfit that many are calling an SS uniform, while watching a video of Hitler.
Felix has gone on to defend himself, in the case of the Fiverr transaction saying that, “It was a funny meme, and I didn’t think it would work”. He said that he found the service interesting and wanted to see if his request would be accepted. Aside from that, Felix has had a history of humor of this nature; his fans defended him saying that it is his sense of humor and he has been doing it for a long time. And despite the Media attacks on him, his fanbase has been growing since WSJ.
But what has the Media actually been saying? Well, the one of the most common accusations are of his “alt-right associations. Soon after media publications began targeting Felix as antisemitic and racist, the Alt-right site The Daily Stormer changed their homepage to read The World’s #1 Pewdiepie Fansite(check out the new homepage down below), as well as published several articles(below) praising Felix’s “hate speech” and supposedly, “normalizes Nazism, and marginalizes our enemies”. But they fail to mention the Daily Stormer is a baiting site that does their best to exaggerate events such as this to spread their agenda, as you can see in the articles below. And concerning Felix’s actual opinions, the Stormer noted, “Ultimately, it doesn’t matter, since the effect is the same”- It doesn’t matter if Felix is actually racist, but because of all the labels that have been put on him, actual white supremacists get to front him as their hero; it’s simply the Stormer and other legitimate supremacist sources and groups taking advantage of the situation created by the media attacks.
Not to mention that Felix has apologized for the videos he has been criticized for, and has disavowed the hate the media has grouped him in with in a blog post he wrote-“I think its important to say something and I want to make it clear: I am in no way supporting any kind of hateful attitudes”. He also made it clear that his content is meant to be apolitical, and not to be taken seriously.
John Herrman of the New York Times wrote a piece on Felix where he discussed the allegations, and Felix’s history of controversial humor. He talks about how alt-right members on an alt-right twitter like site, gave their support for Felix and labeled him alt-right, as well as saying that, “In the meantime, the self-identified real racists are laughing along heartily”. This kind of grouping language is mimicked in the article Wired released on Felix, when it read, “PewDiePie, it turns out, thinks that anti-Semitic Nazi jokes are funny”. The article goes on to state about Youtube that, “It needs to keep its stars, viewers, and business partners all happy at the same time. And so when PewDiePie started making Nazi jokes, it had to do something.” This is essentially virtue-signaling the ‘right’ course of action Youtube took to satisfy its audience(although apparently not Felix’s 53 million subs), by seperating from the newfound ‘racist’.
This media conversation encourages people to conflate Felix with the imagined consequences of his assumed racism, despite his apology, and disavowal of actual hateful attitudes. The New York Times and Wired painted the Pewdiepie=racism narrative the same as other news publications, such as the Independent likening him to fascists, “in 2017 fascism arrives wearing a suit, a tie and a “Subscribe now” button”. However, many are standing up for Felix, and have pointed out the hypocrisy of Disney and Youtube recanting their partnerships with Felix, since he has used this humor for a long time, and it was never serious. This example of yellow journalism in the media, is indicative of how much of an effect blacklisting a public figure can have on their personal life, especially in cases where the allegations are false.