(Caution: strong language in videos)
PewDiePie aka Felix Kjellberg has responded to allegations of anti-Semitism stemming from a Wallstreet Journal piece posted Tuesday with a heartfelt apology, acceptance of responsibility, and respect for his audience and former Partners Maker Studios and YouTube. And, of course, he gave a well earned, scathing rebuke to the mainstream media which characterized him as a Nazi and an anti-Semite.
For the Non-Youtubers out there: Lanterns’ own KE Dean covered the uproar with some background on who PewDiePie is:
"PewDiePie may not be a household name, but for Google’s YouTube, he was a rising star. Felix Kjellberg, a Swedish-born vlogger, has made millions with profanity-laced, “edgy” content geared around video games. Known for outrageous gags, loosely described as “performance art,” Kjellberg is best known for his attention-seeking stunts, such as threatening to delete his PewDiePie channel once he hit 50 million subscribers and tweeting fake news about himself. Last August, Twitter went so far as deleting his account after he joked about joining the Islamic Terrorist group, ISIS."
From an editorial position, I feel your jokes did go too far, were tone deaf to history, and were reprehensible. But you owned up and I respect you for that.
I've been monitoring the developing story closely and have watched the offending videos that are still available online, as well as read numerous accounts of those that aren't. I've also read and watched the media firestorm that is consuming you and your brand.
From what I can see, I don't believe you to be an anti-Semite, white supremacist, or a Nazi. Foolish perhaps, crude--certainly, but I feel compelled to agree with your stand that your use of Nazi imagery and anti-Semetic language was intended as sarcastic, ironic, and satirical. As evidenced in your December and January videos, I belief that the the WSJ compilation of their "proofs" of your "anti-Semitic" content were taken far out of context.
No one in media is defending you, but I’m happy that fans and fellow YouTubers are. There are, unfortunately, actual Nazi pages like The Stormers that are enthusiastically glomming onto you, which you also addressed. Yet you apologized, and you rightly rebuked the true hate groups. I've not been a fan of yours to date (although I am a fan of a few similar YouTubers), but someone needs to stick up for you. We must defend free speech even if it is speech we find objectionable.
You can rest easy today knowing that you're now in the company of other good people who have been mischaracterized as Nazis such as Glenn Beck, who donned a German uniform for his Arguing With Idiots book cover. According to Ben Shapiro, who appeared on Fox yesterday on an unrelated topic, it appears that running wild with unsubstantiated stories is en vogue. Shapiro said:
“Guys, if you want people to take you seriously, you have to stop setting your hair on fire and running into plate glass windows before you even know what the hell is going on.”
You and I probably don't agree on much politically or philosophically (but you never know) and your comedy makes me cringe so hard, it hurts (Roomie's brofist song is champion, though). But I announce today that I, Matt Holloway, Owner and Syndicated Blogger of The HollowNet will lock arms and stand beside you in the defence of free speech. At the HollowNet, we've got your back Felix.
Seriously, though. What were you thinking?! As hyper-offended as this world gets, you had to see this coming.