Background

YouTube’s biggest name with over 53 million subscribers has fallen into a bit of hot water recently over a video posted a month ago in which Pewdiepie (real name Felix) went onto social media site Fiverr, a site in which one can pay someone $5 to do something, this could be a drawing, an advertisement, or, in Felix’s case, a message to be shown on a piece of paper and read.

In the video, Felix tried to test the limits of users by getting a man pretending to be Jesus Christ to say “Subscribe to Jacksepticeye” (one of Felix’s friends and another YouTuber) as well as trying to get someone who said they’d play Hearthstone (a card battling video game) to playing another game, and, finally, the one that caused all the trouble -- getting a group of Indian men to hold up a sign that said “Death to all Jews” and “Subscribe to Keemstar” (another, equally controversial YouTuber).

Backlash

The initial backlash was tame, other relatively small YouTubers threw stones, but most missed the mark. However, soon after the video, facing pressure from outside sources, Maker Studios (Owned by The Walt Disney Corporation), who were partners with Pewdiepie’s channel, severed ties. On top of this YouTube itself cut ties, cancelling his YouTube red original show (YouTube red is a premium streaming service).

While it is unlikely that these moves will damage him financially, it does make a bold statement that YouTube is not supporting their biggest creator.

On the 14th of February, 2017, The Wall Street Journal published an article titled “Disney Severs Ties With YouTube Star PewDiePie After Anti-Semitic Posts." In the article the writers (Rolfe Winkler, Jack Nicas and Ben Fritz) claim that “Since August, PewDiePie has posted nine videos that include anti-Semitic jokes or Nazi imagery."

Many claimed that this article was biased and that the information in it was taken out of context.

In one video Pewdiepie was watching a video of Hitler while wearing a MAGA hat. The WSJ used this as an example of PewDiePie’s racism and love for National Socialism and Trump, when in actuality this was a skit to mock YouTube Heroes, a system which encourages viewers to flag videos for copyright, hate speech, etc. PewDiePie was comparing this system to Nazi Germany in the sketch.

Media's reaction

The WSJ and other mainstream media sources' rebuttal to these criticisms is that PewDiePie was receiving support from actual white supremacists.

PewDiePie actually responded to these claims by saying he doesn’t support “any kind of hateful attitudes." His supporters say that Felix cannot help who supports him and what he said was just jokes not aimed to hurt, offend, or incite violence.

Felix responded to the scandal by saying the media was openly and intentionally lying about him to get clicks. He ended the video by saying, “Try again motherf-----” before flipping off the camera.

Ultimately, this debacle has raised some important questions about what is comedy and what is hate speech. What are you thoughts on the matter?

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