JTA – Disney has severed its relationship with the popular YouTube star known as PewDiePie after millions of people viewed his videos featuring anti-Semitic content.
In a Jan. 11 video PewDiePie – 27-year-old Swedish citizen Felix Kjellberg – covers his mouth and watches as two South Asian men dressed in green loincloths hold a sign reading “Death To All Jews.” The video was part of PewDiePie’s review of a since-closed website called Fiverr in which one pays $5 for others to heed their on-air requests.
“I don’t feel too proud of this, I’m not going to lie,” Kjellberg said on the video. “I’m not anti-Semitic or whatever it’s called. It was a funny meme, and I didn’t think it would work...I swear, I love Jews. I love them.”
The video was viewed more than 6 million times before it was removed by Google, which owns YouTube.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the dropping of PewDiePie by Disney-owned Maker Studios on Feb. 13. The report said the YouTube star had posted nine videos with anti-Semitic content and Nazi references since August.
PewDiePie had more than 53 million subscribers to his video channel and garnered nearly 14.7 billion video views on his main channel, according to Variety.
“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,” a Maker Studios spokesperson told Variety in a statement. “Maker Studios has made the decision to end our affiliation with him going forward.”
Kjellberg defended his videos in a post Feb.12 on Tumblr.
“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.
“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 understands that and that is why they come to my channel. Though this was not my intention, I understand that these jokes were ultimately offensive.”
He also wrote that he does not support hate-based groups.