Swedish born Felix Kjellberg was a college student in 2010 when he created a YouTube account under the name PewDiePie. A year later he dropped out of school and began to focus on his YouTube channel. Supporting himself by selling Photoshop art and working at a hot dog stand, he worked on his video content and by July 2012 had over a million subscribers. At that time, he signed with Maker Studios, which is owned by The Walt Disney Company. In August 2013, he became the most subscribed to user on YouTube, a title which he has held ever since, except for a two month period in late 2013. Currently there are 53 million subscribers to the channel.
PewDiePie refers to his fans as Bros, and collectively as the Bro Army. His videos are largely about him playing and reacting to video games, though he also vlogs and makes comedy and reaction videos. He's done some good with his channel, bringing attention to indie game developers and raising money for charities.
PewDiePie's perception is about to change, however, as Maker Studios has severed ties with the YouTube star, after he reposted a series of anti-Semitic videos. The videos have since been removed from the channel, but there were several, dating back to August 2016. The Wall Street Journal compiled the footage into one single video.
A representative from Maker Studios made an official statement to The WSJ:
“Although Felix has created a following by being provocative and irreverent, he clearly went too far in this case. The resulting videos are inappropriate.”
PewDiePie used a picture of Hitler during segues between clips. Swastikas have been shown in animated clips. He wore a brown military uniform while watching footage of Hitler giving a speech. Two men holding a sign which read "Death to all Jews" were featured on the channel. PewDiePie's reaction to the sign appears to be one of amused shock, and he apologized, with the words "I didn't think they would actually do it," implying that he knew they might beforehand. He also said that he believed it was a joke, and not actually anti-Semitic. A few days later, he showed a video of a man dressed as Jesus saying "Hitler did absolutely nothing wrong." In the same video, PewDiePie spoke out against a website run by an Israeli for suspending the fake Jesus account. PewDiePie's defense for showing the video in the first place was that he did not make or encourage the man to say it. He just showed it. To his 53 million subscribers.
After The WSJ questioned the content, PewDiePie removed the videos and wrote a possible apology on Tumblr:
“Some have been pointing to my videos and saying that I am giving credibility to the anti-Semitic movement. I was trying to show how crazy the modern world is, specifically some of the services available online. 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. ... I make videos for my audience. I think of the content that I create as entertainment, and not a place for any serious political commentary. I know my audience understand that and that is why they come to my channel. Though this was not my intention, I understand that these jokes were ultimately offensive.”
Despite having taken the videos down and issuing an explanation and apology, the question remains: How will this impact PewDiePie's subscribers, if at all? Screen Rant will keep you posted with updates as the situation unfolds.
Source: The WSJ