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Disney drops YouTube star PewDiePie over anti-Semitic content

Disney drops YouTube star PewDiePie over anti-Semitic content

February 14, 2017 | By Chris Kerr

February 14, 2017 | By Chris Kerr
More: Business/Marketing

The Walt Disney Company has cut ties with YouTube star Felix Kjellberg, more commonly known as PewDiePie, after he uploaded videos containing anti-Semitic remarks and imagery. 

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Kjellberg is the biggest YouTuber in the world with over 53 million subscribers and often creates content based around video games -- thereby giving featured devs a huge visibility boost. 

His partnership with Disney was cemented back in 2014, when the House of Mouse dropped $500 million to acquire Maker Studios, a network of video products featuring the likes of PewDiePie and others. 

Now, however, Disney has distanced itself from the Swedish creator after he posted nine videos featuring anti-Semitic jokes and Nazi imagery, one of which includes a sign that reads "death to all Jews." 

Those videos were found and highlighted by a Wall Street Journal review, which contacted Disney for comment. After being made aware of the nature of Kjellberg's content, Disney quickly severed ties. 

"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,” said a spokeswoman for Maker Studios, the Disney division that partnered with PewDiePie.

YouTube has also cancelled Kjellberg's upcoming 'Scare PewDiePie' video series, which was being produced exclusively for YouTube Red, and removed his channel from its Google Preferred ad platform. 

For his own part, Kjellberg claims he doesn't endorse or support either anti-Semitism or Nazism in any way. In a recent blog post he explained that he was only attempting to highlight "how crazy the modern world is."

His attempt at highlighting that 'craziness' was partly successful -- but perhaps not in the way he expected. WSJ notes that American neo-Nazi and white supremacist site The Daily Stormer embraced Kjellberg earlier this year soon after the "death to all Jews" video, changing its motto to "The world’s #1 PewDiePie fansite."

Kjellberg expressed remorse for posting jokes that were "offensive" and served to normalize hateful views.

"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," reads the blog. 

"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."

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