PewDiePie Says WSJ Took Anti-Semitic Content Out of Context — WSJ MIRROR
Disney cut ties with video star; YouTube canceled his show in its subscription service
Felix Kjellberg, the YouTube star known as PewDiePie, in a 2015 photo. Disney cut ties with YouTube star after a Journal story and YouTube canceled his show in its subscription service.
By Rolfe Winkler, Jack Nicas and Ben Fritz
Felix Kjellberg, the YouTube star known as PewDiePie, apologized for content in one of his videos but accused The Wall Street Journal and other media of taking other material out of context in scrutinizing his use of Nazi and anti-Semitic imagery and language.
In a video posted Thursday on YouTube, the 27-year-old Swede was responding to a Journal story published Monday that pointed to nine videos he has made since August that included anti-Semitic jokes or Nazi imagery. The Journal reported that Walt Disney Co. severed business ties with him, and following the story, YouTube canceled Mr. Kjellberg’s show on its subscription service. YouTube also removed advertising from all nine of the videos highlighted by the Journal, though the company declined to comment on the content.
Mr. Kjellberg said Thursday that a Jan. 11 video in which he paid two men in India to hold a sign saying “Death to All Jews” was a joke designed to show “how far you could push” people by paying them $5 on a freelancer website run by Fiverr Inc. Mr. Kjellberg has since taken that video down.
“I am sorry for the words that I used, as I know they offended people, and I admit that the joke itself went too far,“ he said. ”I do strongly believe that you can joke about anything, but I also believe that there’s the right way and not the best way to joke about things.
“I acknowledge that I took things too far and that’s something I definitely will keep in mind going forward,” he added. “But the reaction and the outrage has been nothing but insanity.”
Mr. Kjellberg accused The Journal of taking some of his videos out of context, referencing one brief scene that showed his outstretched arm and hand with a voice-over saying “Sieg Heil.” Mr. Kjellberg says he was just raising his hand and pointing, which he said was mischaracterized as a Nazi salute. In another instance, he watches a Hitler video, which he said was an attempt to mock a YouTube policy.
“It was an attack by the media to discredit me, to decrease my influence, and my economic worth,” Mr. Kjellberg said.
“We stand by the reporting,” said Colleen Schwartz, a spokeswoman for Dow Jones & Co., which owns The Journal.
Mr. Kjellberg didn’t address some of the other videos highlighted by the Journal, including one that has since been taken down, in which he showed a man dressed as Jesus Christ saying, “Hitler did absolutely nothing wrong.” In that Jan. 22 video, he criticized the Israel-based website Fiverr for temporarily suspending the Jesus portrayer’s account on its site. “Isn’t it ironic that Jews found another way to fuck Jesus over?” Mr. Kjellberg asked in that video.
Mr. Kjellberg spent most of the video criticizing media coverage of him. In response to Disney and YouTube distancing themselves from him this week, he said The Journal coverage left the companies little choice but to sever ties. “I fully understand that,” he said. “I understand these things have consequences.”
Mr. Kjellberg said he would continue with his work despite being dropped this week by Disney-owned Maker Studios, his longtime business partner, and the decision by Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube to cancel his show, “Scare PewDiePie.”
“I’m still here, I’m still making videos,” he said.
“Nice try, Wall Street Journal,” he added. “Try again motherfuckers .”