Wow, that felt like a Daily Mail online headline.
If, like me, you prefer your YouTube game channels to be more obscure (I’m a Northernlion fan myself) then the fact that Disney even employed Felix Kjellberg via a subsidiary might have completely slipped you by. On the other hand, the fact that this month Disney dropped him like a man discovering that his hot dog is actually a turd in a bun has been all over the Internet.
Personally, I felt nothing but raging indifference towards him up until now. I wouldn’t say that his videos held any appeal to me, but that could very well have changed if he started singing Talking Heads in his videos or discussing the finer points of biochemistry. Thing is, I’m likely never going to find out. Watching PewDiePie now is more stigmatised than a lily farm.
If you’re unfamiliar with why Disney gave Felix the boot, then it’s all to do with one of Kjellberg’s videos. In it, he paid £5 so that two people from halfway across the world hold up a sign that said “DEATH TO ALL JEWS”.
Yep, just let that sink in for a second.
I’m sure you can think of at least two words beginning with “H” that mean that the above message would be dodgy as hell. But what about the multitude of other, less harmful and funnier messages he could have put on? “Bush did Harambe”? “Dickbutt”? “I’m with stupid”? I came up with those three ideas in all of forty-two seconds!
PewDiePie has a classic case of a disorder that I’ve literally just made up, called insecurity-derived edgelordism. You know the type, someone that makes Hitler or dead baby jokes just to appear “cool”, whereas in reality they have completely missed the point of both humour, and existence in general. This isn’t the first time he’s made a Nazism-related joke either; in some clips, he stacked some boxes in a swastika shape, or displayed a video of a man dressed as Jesus saying “Hitler was right”. (Admittedly, PewDiePie did seem visibly shocked by that video; although quite why he uploaded his reaction is up for debate.)
To his credit, Felix has stated that he made a mistake. We can remove “white-as-the-driven-snow racist” from his list of traits, and replace it with “thicker than a concrete milkshake”. He has spent the best part of a career building up this child-like persona where he tries his best to avoid politics. Forgetting that the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany was a deeply political event is so stupid that I felt my own IQ decreasing from typing this sentence. Also, like a child, he tried to blame it on somebody else; the two men who held up the sign (but they didn’t understand what it meant, so good job there).
PewDiePie made a high-risk play which resulted in a spectacular downfall, like an Icarus flight made of bricks and disappointment. His crash serves as a warning to both him and to others, that anything resembling hate speech – even if it isn’t intended as such – stands a good chance of being clamped down upon.