According to a recent report by CBS News, YouTube sensation PewDiePie has recently been dropped by sponsor Disney, as well as carrier YouTube, after posting a video that included anti-Semitic remarks.
The internet superstar (real name Felix Kjellberg) was known for having the second most subscribers in YouTube history with over 53 million fans, second only to #Sport with 75.6 million. Apparently, Kjellberg utilized the website Fiverr, which allows users to hire people to perform stunts for $5, to recruit two men to hold up a sign reading "death to all Jews." In the now-deleted video in question, PewDiePie was seen laughing at the stunt. As a result, YouTube and Disney subsidiary Maker Studios have parted ways with the content creator.
According to reports by The Wall Street Journal, this isn't the first time that PewDiePie has made anti-Semitic remarks in his insanely popular videos, as Kjellberg had previously posted nine videos that included anti-Semitic jokes or iconography. Prior to his release, PewDiePie was making millions off of his outlandish and brash content. As YouTube's highest paid star in 2016, Kjellberg earned over $16 million, according to Forbes.
A spokesman for Maker Studios commented following the incident, stating, “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."
YouTube, the platform which made Kjellberg a star, also released a statement regarding the decision to drop him despite his incredible following. “We’ve decided to cancel the release of ‘Scare PewDiePie’ Season 2 and we’re removing the PewDiePie channel from Google Preferred," the company said. As of February 14, PewDiePie's channel is still accessible on YouTube.
Later, Kjellberg took to Tumblr to defend his actions, claiming, “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.”
There is currently no word on whether YouTube and Disney's Maker Studios are buying this reasoning, and it remains to be seen whether the YouTube sensation may be reinstated any time soon.