Famous YouTuber / entertainer PewDiePie, also known as Felix Kjellberg, has recently faced much backlash after he received allegations of anti-Semitic content and jokes in one of his videos. He was portrayed laughing as he paid two men to display a sign reading “Death to All Jews.” As an immediate effect, PewDiePie had lost connections with Disney and eventually Google. Google stripped away his privileges of the Google Preferred program. This was basically an advertisement agency for famous YouTubers. On top of losing his advertising opportunities, PewDiePie’s Youtube Red Show, “Scare PewDiePie” was canceled right before the second season was about to take off.
Despite these allegations, Kjellberg is still allowed to keep and post content onto his Youtube channel. He would still be generating revenue through Adsense, which provides YouTubers with a majority of their revenue. This is most likely due to how Kjellberg’s actions did not necessarily meet Google’s threshold for hate speech according to policy, it violated the partnership and premium content agreements that are required to be signed before joining Youtube. Being such a large corporation, Google will ultimately set the precedent for future incidents where content creators cause controversy amongst the community. Even though PewDiePie became one of the largest faces on Youtube and led to a rapid growth of Youtuber’s daily traffic, he will not have a major effect on Youtube’s advertising sales. Although he is one of the biggest, PewDiePie is only a single creator amongst millions. The impact he has had on Youtube has been tremendous, but his actions and the consequences of those actions set an example for other Youtubers to be careful about what they share with Youtube’s large user database.
Focusing on Disney, the decision to severe ties with PewDiePie was a very thought out and careful one. Growing exponentially on Youtube, he was one of the only Youtubers to become mainstream, being followed by paparazzi and being invited by major late-night talk hosts such as Stephen Colbert. Being such an idol and model in the eyes of millions of children and young adults, PewDiePie must understand that whatever he says or does will influence the younger generation. With standing by such messages, PewDiePie is encouraging his young audience to spread bigotry and openly voice hateful opinions. This mindset may come from PewDiePie’s popularity getting to his head and not understanding that his actions will lead to severe consequences. His response to the entire incident was that he was “trying to show how crazy the modern world is, specifically some of the services online.” Although his intentions may not seem harmful, his choice of execution has obviously been poor.
To an extent, PewDiePie’s attempt at comedy was seen as an effort to “normalize racism,” similar to many stand-up comedians that attempt to make a racial stereotype or misinformed information about a race, normal. Today’s generation is affected deeply by media, and by attempting to normalize racism is inadvertently pushing future generations to be much more tolerant of racism and even fascism, in the sense that many extreme conservative ideologies follow closely with the language of racism. Michael Rosen once wrote: “I sometimes fear that people think that fascism arrives in fancy dress worn by grotesques and monsters”. No, in 2017 fascism arrives wearing a suit, a tie and a “Subscribe now” button.
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