By Aidan Rogan, Aviator contributor
Ever wonder what it’s like being an Internet comedian on YouTube?
It may seem like a great job. Everyone would love you, you’d get paid to make videos every day or so, you’d be your own boss, and you could interact with fans and make content that you enjoy. Seems like a dream.
That’s the life of Felix Kjelberg, the YouTube gamer/comedian with 53 million subscribers who goes under the name of “PewDiePie”. I’m almost certain you’re heard of him, seen him, or are subscribed to him. He’s a staple of YouTube, the biggest channel by far, the king of the Internet. And I’ve got to hand it to the guy; he’s hilarious. He’s supported by Maker Studios, a YouTube network that is run by Disney, of all companies.
But it seems that a few people aren’t happy about Felix’s success.
On Feb. 14, 2017, The Wall Street Journal published an article titled “Disney Sever Ties With YouTube Star PewDiePie After Anti-Semitic Post”. The three writers of this article, Rolfe Winkler, Jack Nicas, and Ben Fritz, explain how PewDiePie had made nine “posts” in the past six months promoting anti-Semitism and featuring Nazi propaganda. The article then went on and stated that The Wall Street Journal itself went to Disney, the owners of his network, and inquired why they supporting this content.
Winkler, Nicas, and Fritz are lying to you.
These “journalists” (it feels disgusting to call them this) did not find nine “posts” promoting Nazis or anti-Semitism. They did not expose PewDiePie as a racist. They did not go to Disney to protect YouTube from the evil of a 27-year-old Swedish comedian. This blasphemic article was written for one purpose and one purpose alone: To damage PewDiePie’s channel.
And they did some damage.
After being bullied by WSJ, Disney needed to protect itself. It was an entirely PR move, and I understand why they did this. They needed to protect themselves from the storm about to hit.
Disney completely dropped PewDiePie from Maker Studios, meaning Felix is no longer under contract. And, as a reflexive move to avoid negative press, YouTube then removed PewDiePie from their preferred advertising tier (which recommended his channel first to possible advertisers on YouTube) and cancelled Felix’s pay-to-view YouTube Red series, “Scare PewDiePie”.
And, of course, other mainstream news sources picked up the story and accused Felix of being a racist.
But what actually happened?
Basically, Felix had included two jokes in past videos that some may find distasteful, if the context is removed. The first came when he discussed a new program that YouTube had tried to start called “YouTube Heroes”, that would reward users points for reporting “negative content” (how specific). In the video, Felix compared the new system to Nazis, and, as a joke, edited in a clip of himself watching a Hitler speech online.
The second is a bit more controversial, though. In a video discussing a website called Fiverr (where you can pay anyone five dollars to do anything), he decided to see how far he could push the limits of what you could do by paying two men to hold up a sign that said “DEATH TO ALL JEWS”.
Now, these jokes may seem a fair bit inappropriate if context is removed. But, within context, while these jokes are pushing the limits a bit, they are about as far from Hitler and the Nazis as “The Lego Movie” is to “The Blair Witch Project”. The last thing I would expect someone to do is remove the context behind all these jokes, accuse Felix of being an anti-Semite, and try to pass it off as “news”.
But that’s exactly what they did. And people bought it. Never mind the fact that these “posts” that WSJ used as evidence (even though these were just 10-seconds snippets from videos) had no context. Never mind the fact that Felix has freedom of speech. Never mind the fact that The Wall Street Journal had no reason to cut and paste parts of PewDiePie’s channel in their article, or even be snooping through it in the first place, just so they could have “evidence” behind their false narrative. Never mind the fact that they took a moment in one video where he points to something above him, and tried to pass it off as a Nazi salute.
They wanted to attack him. Why?
Because Felix isn’t The Young Turks, or BuzzFeed, or The Verge, or any of the other mindless, clickbaiting, pandering, pathetic excuses for Internet content that value obnoxious titles like “Senator Kid Rock?”
PewDiePie, as a channel, doesn’t fit the mainstream media’s false view of the world. Felix talks about controversial topics, and to them, that’s bad. You can’t talk about anything controversial; you might offend someone. The more bland, the better. Shouldn’t it be worrying when news outlets sound like something straight out of Fahrenheit 451? Felix is everything Hollywood, the mainstream media, and the political elite hate: a successful, regular guy.
The mainstream media tried to condemn PewDiePie for merely using his freedom of speech. He’s just an Internet personality cracking dumb jokes, but apparently that’s not allowed nowadays.
After this explosion set off by WSJ, other YouTubers came to PewDiePie’s defense and called out The Wall Street Journal and the other news outlets for attempting to slander Felix.
What makes this entire incident so important is that, which a simple publication of a slanderous hit piece, it could end an entire channel.
But what if PewDiePie wasn’t the biggest channel on YouTube? What if he couldn’t get his voice heard by more than 53 million people? The Wall Street Journal, their slanderous journalists, and all the other pathetic excuses for “news” that jumped on their bandwagon would’ve gotten away with it, no questions asked.
And that’s the worst part. They have this power. And they don’t deserve it at all.