Disney’s Maker Studios and Google’s YouTube are distancing themselves from a top YouTube star after he made jokes construed as anti-Semitic and posted Nazi imagery in his videos
Felix Kjellberg, known online as PewDiePie, has the most popular YouTube channel, with more than 53 million subscribers.The Swedish YouTube star rose to fame by posting videos of him playing and commenting about video games. More recently, he branched out into non-gaming videos that show him performing skits, stunts or making jokes.
Disney, whose Maker Studios runs Kjellberg’s channels and network, said he crossed the line with some of his videos. One video from January shows two Indian men paid by Kjellberg to hold up a sign that says “Death to all Jews.”
Kjellberg said the video was meant to demonstrate how far people will go if they get paid to do something, but he didn’t think they would actually do it. Other videos show Nazi imagery in a satirical way.
It’s not the first time the YouTube star posted a video with anti-Semitic remarks. Since August 2016, he had posted nine videos with anti-Semitic jokes or iconography, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Maker Studios said in a statement that while Kjellberg’s channel is popular because he is irreverent and provocative, the studio is ending its affiliation with him because he went too far.
YouTube spokeswoman Michelle Slavich said YouTube has cancelled the release of the second season of Kjellberg’s reality show “Scare PewDiePie” and removed the PewDiePie channel from its Google Preferred advertising program, which aggregates top YouTube content for advertisers to buy time on.
Kjellberg has a record-breaking 53 million subscribers on YouTube and makes millions off of his videos. Last year, he was YouTube’s highest paid star, raking in $15 million in 2016, reports Forbes.
Kjellberg responded on his Tumblr and said, “I 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 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.”