In case you don’t spend all day online, PewDiePie is the No. 1 YouTuber, period, with a few side projects and even a TV show, so it’s not too surprising that a paper like The Wall Street Journal would know who he is.
The Journal cataloged several videos of Felix Kjellberg, PewDiePie’s real name, being anti-Semitic, including instances of him using images of Hitler as a punch line and paying two men to hold up a sign that reads “Death to All Jews.”
Disney has dropped Kjellberg and YouTube has moved him from the preferred section since the article came out. But, as Philip DeFranco says, this is not the end of PewDiePie. It only draws attention to the YouTuber, and his fan base is too large for this to affect him in any way, shape or form.
Kjellberg isn’t happy, and other known YouTubers, such as DeFranco and Markiplier, Mark Fishbach, have come out in defense of Kjellberg in the unending chant of “It’s just a joke, guys, chill.”
DeFranco has posted two videos on his news channel in defense of PewDiePie, continuing his belief that it was just a joke and that PewDiePie isn’t going down.
Fishbach’s response was to ask everyone to respect each other, but that sentiment did not seem to include respecting any Jewish viewer who might be offended by a Swedish man using Jewish deaths as a joke or, as PewDiePie put it, “a funny meme.” His respect seemed to be reserved for “those that you hate” and, of course, PewDiePie.
If it’s just a joke, what is the problem?
For one thing, it’s not funny. For another, PewDiePie’s audience contains a great many teenagers. These young viewers won’t think critically about “a funny meme.” Because it is phrased as a joke, it’s OK to say, and that is the end of their thinking.
I can’t express the heartbreak I feel when I see these professionals, including DeFranco, who has claimed to always look at things from both sides, take a staunch attitude and protect only Kjellberg. They have raised their armies — with their multimillion subscribers, it is an army — to protect a man who said the response to his “Death to All Jews” sign was “nothing but insanity.”
I can’t express the heartbreak I feel when I imagine a Jewish teenager, excited to watch his favorite YouTuber, only to find that person paying a man to dress up as Jesus and say, “Hitler did nothing wrong.”
I can’t express the pain of watching DeFranco, who has promised to always see things from a nonbiased point of view and to later bring out his opinions, post a seven-minute video defending Kjellberg.
Kjellberg does not need the protection. It is clear he can get away with anything, any joke and any action; it is clear he will not be held accountable.
But the rest of us do need the protection, especially the 14-year-old viewers who have just been taught that getting angry over a meme asking an entire minority group to die is just people overreacting.