This week as undoubtedly been dominated by Pewdiepie, and more importantly what has been happening to the YouTube sensation. Earlier this week Disney, the owners of network Maker, dropped Pewdiepie from their portfolio. A few hours later, YouTube took their own action – removing his channel from their “brand-safe” premium advertising program, and cancelling the second season of his YouTube Red exclusive show, Scare Pewdiepie. Now Pewdiepie, or Felix Kjellberg, is having his say.
In a lengthy video addressing the furore kicked up over videos that have since been deleted, Kjellberg issued an apology. Considering the culmination of the outrage spawns from a video feature two people holding up a sign reading “Death to All Jews”, it made sense for Kjellberg to tackle this head on. He apologised for the joke, acknowledging that he had taken things too far. Better still, the content creator said he plans to learn from the divisive reception the video received.
“A lot of people loved the video and a lot of people didn’t and it’s almost like two generations of people arguing if this is okay or not. My intention was just to show how stupid the website is and how far you can push it by paying $5. I’m sorry for the words that I used, as I know they offended people, and I admit the joke itself went too far.”
The apology itself was not the entire purpose of the video though. From the outset, Kjellberg makes it clear that he’s upset with the way the media have portrayed him here, and more importantly how its been that way for sometime. Kjellberg implies that the media are only interested in headlines, citing examples where only his enormous wealth made it into stories concerning him. “Old-school media does not like internet personalities, because they’re scared of us,” says Kjellberg.
Kjellberg continues, pointing out how he’s donated millions to charities through his years of popularity, all of which have rarely been reported on. He uses this later as a springboard to address the core subject of the video: his dissatisfaction with the manner in which events transpired this week. Considering the Wall Street Journal were the ones who pressed Disney and Google for comments on Kjellberg’s content, he says their line of reporting as the reason for why things took such a nasty turn.
In addition to that, Kjellberg states that the content in question was all taken out of context. The “Death to All Jews” video, which caused the most uproar, was part of a bit to test the extents of websites Fivver – a freelance website that allows users to pay $5 for simple requests. Kjellberg also references a snippet where he’s in fact asking fans to stop putting swastikas into a game, which was left out of the Wall Street Journal report. In another, Kjellberg references the tail end of a video, showing him in army dress and watching Hitler speeches, which specifically dealt with media’s tendency to take content out of context in the crux of the video.
In short, Kjellberg feels as though the Wall Street Journal used evidence without contextual background to misrepresent him. And on that front, he certainly seems well within his rights to be angry about that, which is visibly clear by the end of the video.
Despite that, Kjellberg acknowledges perhaps why Disney and Google were forced to do what they did, while also coming to terms with the fact that he may have stepped a little too far over the line this time. This doesn’t detach the videos from the ramifications they’ve had (Kjellberg noted that he had no idea the video were being used on a Pro-Nazi website, and pointed towards his Tumblr post on the 12th that distanced himself from that use), but it at the very least shows that he understands why they might have been problematic in the first place.
For that, Kjellberg deserves a little respect. His business has taken a knock and his slippery relationship with the media en masse has certainly soured, but the acknowledgement of fault here shouldn’t go unnoticed. Whether it helps him change in the future is difficult to predict, but it’s not always easy to admit to some fault when being treated unfairly at the same time.