Disney drops highest-paid YouTube star over anti-Semitic comments
Disney's Maker Studios has dropped one of the highest-paid YouTube stars over his anti-Semitic videos.
Disney-owned Maker Studios has dropped Swedish YouTube star PewDiePie (real name: Felix Kjellberg) after he published anti-Semitic videos online.
The announcement was first reported by the Wall Street Journal on Monday evening and has since been confirmed by Maker.
A spokesperson from the studio told Variety magazine: “Although Felix has created a following by being provocative and irreverent, he clearly went too far in this case and the resulting videos are inappropriate. Maker Studios has made the decision to end our affiliation with him going forward.”
Kjellberg is the highest-paid YouTube star of 2016. He reportedly makes US$15 million a year from advertising, sponsorship and appearance deals and has amassed nearly 14.7 billion views on his main channel alone and 53 million subscribers.
The 27-year-old mainly posts about video games and in 2014 signed a deal with Disney's Maker Studios in which he received co-ownership of a channel called Revelmode that produces videos, mobile apps and merchandise.
However, his career could be in jeopardy after a Wall Street Journal investigation found videos he posted online featured anti-Semitic imagery.
One of the videos posted on PewDiePie’s page featured two men holding up a banner which said: “Death to all Jews.”
Kjellberg defended the videos, arguing he “was trying to show how crazy the modern world is, specifically some of the services available online”.
“Some have been pointing to my videos and saying that I am giving credibility to the anti-Semitic movement, and my fans are part of it as well for watching. I don’t want to cite the sources because I don’t want to give them any more attention,” he posted on his Tumblr page.
“I picked something that seemed absurd to me—That people on Fiverr would say anything for 5 dollars.
“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.”
Kjelberg's anti-Semitic videos have been picked up by neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer who referred to the YouTube star as "our guy".
“He could be doing all this only to cause a stir things up and get free publicity,” wrote the Daily Stormer.
“Ultimately, it doesn’t matter, since the effect is the same; it normalizes Nazism, and marginalizes our enemies.”
The site has even added a banner describing itself as “the world’s number 1 PewDiePie fansite”.