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PewDiePie dropped by Maker & YouTube ad platform over antisemitic content

Update: PewDiePie calls out "old school media" for attempt to "decrease my influence and my economic worth"

Update

Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg has spoken out against “old school media” for its role in stoking controversy around his content, singling out The Wall Street Journal for “cornering” his former commercial partners.

In an 11-minute video published today, Kjellberg discussed what he saw as a “joke [that] went too far,” admitting that he misjudged the video's tone. “I do strongly believe that you can joke about anything, but I also believe that there's a right way and not a best way to joke about things," he said.

However, any contrition evident in the video was counterbalanced with firm accusations that the flames of controversy were fanned by “old school media” frightened of the growing influence of voices on platforms like YouTube. "We have so much influence and such a large voice, and I don't think they understand it,” he said. “And that's why they keep this approach to us."

On the subject of The Wall Street Journal's original story, Kjellberg said: "This whole thing is not a post, it was an attack towards me. It was an attack by the media to try and discredit me, to try and decrease my influence and my economic worth."

Kjellberg accused the WSJ of “forcing” Disney and YouTube to sever commercial ties, and argued that to, “portray me as anti-Semitic is doing no one a favor. You're targeting some Swedish guy that tries to be funny, most of the time it doesn't really go well - very offensive - but he means well. Is there any hate in what I do? No. Absolutely not."

Ultimately, Kjellberg closed the video with a statement of defiance. "I'm still here. I'm still making videos. Nice try, Wall Street Journal. Try again, motherfuckers."

Update

In addition to being dropped by Disney-owned Maker Studios, Kjellberg has now been removed from YouTube's Preferred advertising platform for contravening rules on "advertiser-friendly content guidelines", which clearly forbid the use of "controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown", something which the star's recent posts have obviously contravened.

The Preferred network offers priority access to high-profile YouTube stars, allowing advertisers to contact them directly and place specific adverts. Being delisted from Preferred will not mean that there is no way for the videos to make money, but it sends a strong message about the nature of the content and Google's view of it. As well as that delisiting, YouTube has also cancelled a second series of a reality show featuring Kjellberg.

"We've decided to cancel the release of Scare PewDiePie Season 2 and we're removing the PewDiePie channel from Google Preferred," a statement from the company reads.

Original story continues below

Maker Studios has cut ties with Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg after the YouTube star released a number of videos containing material deemed offensive and, at the extreme, antisemitic.

The Wall Street Journal was first to the story, and Maker Studios has since confirmed its decision to drop the biggest earner on YouTube - $15 million in 2016 alone, according to Forbes.

"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 company, which was acquired by Disney for $500 million in 2014, said. "Maker Studios has made the decision to end our affiliation with him going forward."

The WSJ said that the content of nine videos since August last year had alerted Maker Studios, with three videos published during January having now been taken down. A particularly contentious video, released on January 11, featured two men holding a sign bearing the slogan, "Death to all Jews." Kjellberg instructed the men to do so after finding them on the freelancer community Fiverr, with all three subsequently banned as a result. Kjellberg later made a bid on Twitter to have the accounts of the two men reinstated.

Kjellberg has responded to the situation directly, addressing the allegations that he is "giving credibility to the anti-Semitic movement" in a post on his Tumblr page. "I was trying to show how crazy the modern world is, specifically some of the services available online," he said. "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."

However, the precise intent of Kjellberg's decisions remain somewhat obscure. In the same post, he insisted that he sees his video content 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."

Kjellberg gained more creative control over his videos when he launched his own network, Revelmode, in partnership with Maker Studios in January 2016. At the time, Maker said it was "thrilled to be doubling down with Felix."

That it has unravelled so quickly, and in this exact manner, is surprising. In April last year, Kjellberg seemed keen to make a clean break from what he saw as the immature humour that defined his early years.

Pew

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Latest comments (26)

Aleksi Ranta Product Manager - Hardware 4 months ago
What makes this totally deplorable is that Felix first states ""So that's Fiverr. What an experience. Wow. I didn't expect that. I don't feel great about this. I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. " YET goes on to edit the video, post it on his channel, monetizes it....

Not sorry enough to not post the video in the first place?
Not intelligent enough to not post the video?
Probably both.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 4 months ago
This is why so many YouTubers are loathed by the professional community, because they have very little awareness past their own nose. A major production involving multiple "YouTube influencers" was held up because they decided that rather than spending thirty minutes completing their share, that they were busy and then they had a vacation before they could get to it. This placed the company in question under extremely tight all-nighter deadlines.

Of course there are plenty of people who behave professionally on YouTube, but many of them learned to do so in the real world first, instead of being a screaming clown who got lucky. Before getting you and your projects or brands involved with them, look outside their subscriber and hit numbers and decide if you really want to get involved with that party. Watch the content, a lot, it will likely serve you far better whether it's money and time well spent.
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Sybil Collas Narrative designer, Teacher 4 months ago
At the risk of going completely counter-current here, I think what happened was an insane snowballing effect of political correctness.
He did not support or make that statement, and what happened completely supported his point for that specific video. If anything, I'd say it was a bold move from him, and a reactivist action from Disney.
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Show all comments (26)
Aleksi Ranta Product Manager - Hardware 4 months ago
A bold move wouldnt first pop into my head, and ofcourse Disney has a reaction as acting proactively is not something that can be done in this case, without time travelling.

He didnt make the statement but he facilitated it, even very clearly and that is not an alternate fact. He could have gone with any other statement, rather than being totally tasteless.

He is smart, he knows what shocks but there are limits to freedom of speech, we all know that.

Political correctness is also another word being a nice, sensible and courteous person. There is absolutely nothing wrong in being politically correct.
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Ruben Monteiro Engineer 4 months ago
@Aleksi Ranta: Political correctness is about hiding what you really feel behind a facade that is compatible with what is generally accepted as the right way to act. If you don't see anything wrong with that, look harder.
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James Prendergast Research Chemist 4 months ago
@Ruben Monteiro: No Ruben, political correctness is an attempt to bring empathy and information on how your actions affect other people.

It's an attempt to make people who are being assholes realise that they are being so for no logical reason. If you see something wrong with that, look harder...

Sure, there are people who can be 'protected' by political correctness who overreact to a word said here or there - but that usually comes from many, many past instances where anger has built up to the way they are treated. They're not right to act that way to that one person but there is a reason for it.

If you don't think there's anything wrong with treating people badly for no justifiable reason and you're just hiding what you really feel instead of learning about other people and their lives then I don't know what to say to you...
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Dan Pearson European Editor, GamesIndustry.biz4 months ago
Also, maybe if what you really feel is that you'd like to contribute towards the systemic oppression and marginalisation of society's most vulnerable, then you probably need someone to tell you to shut the hell up now and again.
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Keldon Alleyne Developer, leader, writer, Avasopht Ltd4 months ago
It's not about creating a facade, but being aware of what is acceptable behavior and deciding whether you are going to address your thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

Every competent adult should be able to self reflect and reconsider their ways.

A racist skinhead has every right to express his stupid and ignorant beliefs. It is his choice and I am not in the one bit offended by the ravings of a complete idiot (that's not to insinuate an equivalence to anyone here).

But a mature adult will question his or her biases against people who identify as LBGT, for instance, and maybe initially say, "I do still feel weirded out about LBGT, but let me not be an asshole and at the same time maybe ponder on my beliefs." Maybe that person can never address their beliefs, but can acknowledge appropriate behavior as a responsible and respectful adult.

With a little more emotional intelligence a mature adult ought to recognize their irrational disposition and with a little self moderation and mindful awareness come to find themselves more comfortable, accepting and appreciative of the diversity of humanity.

To see it as a facade is a pretty twisted way of looking at it.

Seriously, it was common when visiting my cousins in Abbey Wood to be called a n****r, told to go back to Africa and have idiots making monkey gestures at me. Their stupidity never bothered me, expect for the few times I had to run from gangs of idiots.

"Political correctness," is just an expression of maturity, respect for others and self reflection.

I imagine many of those people who taunted me now listen to hip hop and are ashamed of their prior ignorance.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Keldon Alleyne on 15th February 2017 10:02am

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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 4 months ago
He ordered the video, he received the video, he proceeded to do the reaction video, regardless. This is not a reaction video where a YouTuber clicks on links from his chat and acts shocked, this was produced by him from beginning to end. He could have reordered a new video during any time of the process. Most importantly: it is not humor!

It should hardly come as a surprise that a trivial amount of money in the first world, can have enough purchasing power in other parts of the world to pay for a lot of things. The premise of trying to frame a reaction video featuring Shock(TM) around that fact is already a bit on the light side of content. Trying to make that premise work by cranking it up to racists slander is nothing but exploitative. The same way in which Bloody Boobs on Steam, or an 80ies splatter movie is exploitative.

Trying to reframe this choice to go the exploitation route by claiming it was humor, or an attempt to point out absurdity, is an after the fact attempt to cop out. Employing laughter to cope with an uncomfortable scene is not an an indication of that scene having had humor. Hearing laughter does not mean something was funny. Yes, breaking the conventions of society can be used for comedic effect. However, genocide is not one of them and crying "kappa" is not a universal get out of jail card.
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Doug McFarlane Co-Owner, KodeSource4 months ago
Good thing Felix didn't go with his first Fiverr sign idea: "Cats are better than Dogs!"
That would have been much more controversial!
Losing respect for Disney and Youtube. You should never cave in to unfounded pressure!
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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 4 months ago
@Sybil Collas: He told the two Sri Lankans he hired on Fiverr what to put on the sign, so yes, it is his statement - the team from Fiverr didn't even speak English fluently and claim that they don't even know what it said.

@Doug McFarlane: Pressure isn't really unfounded when people are still being killed or driven out of their homes here in the West for their Jewish faith. Plus it's not actually the first time he's made anti-semitic comments .

Plus there wasn't actually a chance to put any pressure on Disney - it didn't hit the news until after he was sacked.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Bonnie Patterson on 15th February 2017 11:26pm

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Craig Page El Presidente, Awesome Enterprises4 months ago
I'd love to see him do a reaction video reacting to the news of being dropped by his sponsors and kicked out of the preferred network.

I don't this really matters though. He has over 53,000,000 followers. If he switched to Vimeo or some other video site they would watch him there instead.

He's kind of like Howard Stern. How many radio stations was Howard fired from for offending the station, their sponsors, and the FCC? I don't know... But his listeners kept following him, and now he has a $90,000,000 a year salary for doing his satellite radio show.
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany4 months ago
@Sybil Collas: Have to agreed with that. I can understand why some people can feel provoked by this. Not so much how some people (That obviously know little to nothing about the guy, since it's quite normal for him to sue this kind of humor) in a display of moral superiority, are now using it as an excuse to ask for the head of this guy.
I guess It's also a too juicy opportunity to bash in a guy you hate, another thing that I'm seeing in this comments and I just don't get; I dislike a lot of youtubers and what I do is ignoring them, not talking about them, not watching their videos and not caring when they are mentioned in the media.
But... I guess the guy is rich and has money by doing what he likes, and that makes some people cringe in their seats. O just that some people enjoys hating (for some reason).

About this guy too, I read somewhere that he also donates money regularly to different causes, if true that is already more than most youtubers do, and provably more than most of us (or his haters) do.

Have a good day.
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany4 months ago
@Aleksi Ranta: "Political correctness is also another word being a nice, sensible and courteous person. There is absolutely nothing wrong in being politically correct."

Political correctness can also be misunderstood and taken to the extreme and in the wrong direction. I have a good example in the game "Hatred". I don't like it at all, my friend likes him a lot.
So I can be properly politically correct and tell my friend that I'm not interested in seeing anything of that game since it touches topics in a way that is insensitive and disrespectful. Or I can take it to the extreme and call him a monster, a heartless p***k, quote him on twitter for public humiliation and bomb him with articles of every single mass shooting that took place in the US and Europe in hopes of making him feel miserable and prevent him for playing the game.

In this case in particular, Disney's reaction is easy to understand since they have to be family friendly (That's why they have a external company to make their adult stuff, like "SAW" or "Hostel") But the over-reaction of people from all around the internet that didn't care about the Jewish sensitivities until they could use them to bash into this guy is not only disheartening, but also scary.

Cheers :)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Alfonso Sexto on 16th February 2017 8:54am

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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany4 months ago
@Ruben Monteiro: Political correctness can be taken to the extreme, but what you described as such has nothing to do with it, maybe that is just your opinion or the way you see it?.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Alfonso Sexto on 16th February 2017 8:55am

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Aleksi Ranta Product Manager - Hardware 4 months ago
Its kind of sad when there are people defending what happened when we all know it was offensive and in very bad taste.

If i were to go and call anyone of this threads commentators in derogatory terms based on their gender, country of origin, looks or employer for example, i wonder how much acceptance i would receive eh? Just locker room talk right? Just trying to be funny right?

We dont need to defend Felix, im sure the guy can do it all by himself if he wants to. Im also pretty sure he will not be much worse off financially so we dont need to worry about him having enough to eat.
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Ruben Monteiro Engineer 4 months ago
@Dan Pearson: Is your comment directed at me? If so, you're reading way too much into what I wrote. Where on Earth did you get the impression that what I really feel is that I'd like to "contribute towards the systemic oppression and marginalisation of society's most vulnerable" ?
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Ruben Monteiro Engineer 4 months ago
@Alfonso Sexto: Yes. Where I live, the term "political correctness" is usually associated with a mask that politicians put on to get votes regardless of what they actually feel, which is why it has a connotation of "fake" to me.

@James Prendergast: What you say is valid when political correctness is based on true empathy, which is not always the case (I've exaggerated in my comment saying it's never the case - my bad, apologies for that). Did you interpret my comment as me believing that it's ok to treat people badly for no justifiable reason?
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Jonah Falcon Writer 4 months ago
@Sybil Collas: No. It is not. When white supremacists and neo-Nazis are latching on to him, that's an issue.

And by the way, if people stop buying your product because they're offended, that's not "political correctness". That's being offended. And you can't tell people NOT to be offended.

They're showing PewdiePie the door.

https://xkcd.com/1357/
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Jonah Falcon Writer 4 months ago
@Ruben Monteiro: If white supremacists and neo-Nazis are adopting him and saying he's coming over to their way of thinking, what does that say?

Considering attacks on minorities are on the rise, what does that say? Hm?
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Summee Farooqi Product Manager, Perfect World Entertainment4 months ago
@Aleksi Ranta: Political correct speech is censorship. Content creators should support Felix for pushing the limits on humor, however tasteless. It's fair for media networks to drop him, but this backlash is dangerous for creators and only furthers the safe space mentality so many are pushing for. Where do we draw the line? Comedy is supposed to take serious topics and tragedy and bring about humor and comfort people.
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Jonah Falcon Writer 4 months ago
So, why doesn't he make jokes about black people? Are gays and Jews more acceptable targets to him?
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Raf Keustermans CEO, co-founder Plumbee 4 months ago
Repeating my comment from another, similar topic: I have to say it's really surprising, and disappointing, that we are still having these discussions in our industry in 2017.
At least topics like these are helpful to filter out who never to work with...
I can guarantee that whoever supports these views will never, ever work with me or any company I work with.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Raf Keustermans on 18th February 2017 3:21am

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Raf Keustermans CEO, co-founder Plumbee 4 months ago
@Summee Farooqi: I hope you're joking? If not your name is for sure on my 'never ever hire' list.
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Keldon Alleyne Developer, leader, writer, Avasopht Ltd4 months ago
It's not just the fact he's made a joke about Jews.

Sacha Baron Cohen makes jokes about everything, 9/11, Jews, blacks, gays, you name it. But he does it with skill. The fact his role as a stereotypical black male was accepted by the black community is a testament to his comedic ability and political awareness.

But comedy is not a free pass. When touching on sensitive and controversial subjects you do so with care and wit.

This was not done with care or respect. He was ridiculing the poor while at the same time having them display hatred to Jews in the most careless manner.

All in all it was in bad taste and showed poor judgement.

Blaming the backlash on political correctness shows a serious lack of awareness.

There's no envelope he was pushing, he was just being childish in public, and to perceive it as an attack on his economic worth. Good god!

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Keldon Alleyne on 18th February 2017 11:05am

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James Prendergast Research Chemist 4 months ago
@Ruben Monteiro: The thing you have to realise, Ruben, is that if it's how you're describing it, it's not political correctness. Your statement may be out of context and it's always difficult to parse an individual's micro comments instead of a 'whole'.

However, what you wrote was worded poorly.

What you're saying about the local politicians being fakers, it's not about political correctness, that's something else. It's one of the landmines of language that can be appropriated or misappropriated by anyone for any purpose. The trick is not falling into the trap of accepting the lie.

e.g. Ars Technica's recently semi-disavowed article on 'Post-Truth' blaming liberals for the term and practice, only for the very same article to overtly state that the original term "post-truth" had a very different origin and meaning.

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2008/11/post-truth-spawned-by-liberal-left-long-ago-brexit-trump/

Of course, leaning on that sort of simplistic reasoning would mean that anyone who is happy is gay and that happiness leads to homosexualism.

What utter rubbish!

Just because an awful person co-opted 'political correctness' in order to destroy its meaning does not mean that the term should follow suit and if it does then the people talking about the proceedings should be very careful in how they describe what they're talking about...
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