After pledging $50,000 to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) late last month upon hitting the milestone of a hundred million YouTube subscribers, Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg is now retracting that promise after receiving backlash from his fans. The ADL's stated mission is to fight anti-semitism and hate in general, so it goes without saying that this doesn't look so great when considering the famed YouTuber's past words and actions.
Just back in February 2017, Kjellberg was dropped by Disney's Maker Studios after publishing videos in which he solicited Fiverr users to do outrageously anti-semitic things, such as dressing like Nazi German soldiers while holding signs calling for Jewish genocide. Kjellberg holds that these and other Nazi-related bits were just played for laughs and shock value, and publicly apologized despite claiming himself to have been treated unfairly by media outlets. However, he then went on to angrily call another player the n-word during a PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds live stream just later that year. Though his casual use of a highly charged racial slur now resides in online memory as the progenitor of the "heated gamer moment" meme, it justifiably prompted massive outrage from journalists and segments of the gaming community at the time.
Now, in a follow-up video to his one hundred million subscriber celebration, Kjellberg has announced that he has changed his mind about giving the ADL his originally pledged $50,000 donation, saying, "It really doesn't feel genuine for me to proceed with a donation at this point." Seeming to have come to this decision after his fans (who, presumably, are not very fond of the ADL) angrily speculated that Kjellberg must have been put up to the charitable act, he confirmed that donating money to the ADL was something he was "advised" to do and called the initial decision a "mistake." Citing his apparent guilt over the Christchurch mosque shooter's "subscribe to PewDiePie" quip while gunning down innocent people, Kjellberg says he still wants to give the funds to a relevant but as of yet undecided charity that he'll "actually be passionate to donate to."
As for why he is opting to renege on his pledge to the ADL, Kjellberg briefly shared his rationale in a (now deleted) tweet. Though the reasons behind his fans' shock and anger over his original choice to work alongside the ADL may be more complicated, his own reasons boiled down to the fact that the organization had previously "outright spoken against [him]," notably after he generated anti-semitic controversy in 2017. The ADL is doubtlessly a flawed organization, having most recently opposed the construction of the Park51 Islamic community center and mosque in Manhattan back in 2010. However, promising funds to an anti-hate charity as penance for stoking hatred and subsequently walking the gesture back over that charity having previously called him out over that exact same behavior comes across as hypocritical at best and disingenuous at worst.
Kjellberg closed out his statement by apologizing for "messing this up," self-deprecatingly stating, "That's what I do!" However, it's not so hard to remember a time when Kjellberg did little else but play video games while turning his trademark overanimated persona up to eleven. If Kjellberg truly feels he's always embroiled in online outrage and being mistreated by the mainstream media, perhaps it would be best if he simply stopped generating controversy with himself at the epicenter and instead returned to what earned him his one hundred million subscribers in the first place.