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Disney announced yesterday that they would no longer be working with Swedish YouTuber PewDiePie — real name Felix Kjellberg — after it was revealed that he had paid two men to pose with hateful imagery in the name of a joke.
In mid-January, Kjellberg used an app called Fiverr that allows users to pay five dollars for anything to pay two Indian men to hold up a sign reading “Death to All Jews”. The men claimed that they did not understand the term “Jews” and so were ignorant as to what they were promoting.
Kjellberg was not able to make the same claim.
He issued an apology via Tumblr, claiming that he had hoped to outline how absurd the Fiverr app was, and how easy it is to get people to say anything. He does not note that there are many ridiculous statements that do not advocate genocide.
He also does not apologise for the abusive nature of paying freelancing individuals in need of cash for the sake of proving how far they will go.
Disney was involved with Kjellberg through its Maker Studios division, responsible for the likes of ‘Scare PewDiePie’
The YouTuber rose to fame in 2010, when he began posting gaming videos to YouTube. He has since branched out into various comedic formats like story times and reaction videos, though gaming remains his primary focus.
PewDiePie boasts the position of most subscribed YouTube of all time with 53-million people opting in. Its videos average around three million views each, and in 2016 Kjellberg’s net worth was estimated to be around US$60-million.
Disney was involved with Kjellberg through its Maker Studios division. The company had worked together previously for the YouTube Red series Scare PewDiePie. Its first season was released January 2016.
It did not outline the outcome of the show, merely stating that they had “ended the affiliation.”
The drop comes after The Wall Street Journal questioned Disney about the string of antisemitism in PewDiePie’s videos. They compiled a video of clips from nine PewDiePie videos that paraded Nazi imagery.