Disney drops top YouTube star for anti-Semitic jokes

14 February 2017

Disney has dropped PewDiePie, the highest-earning YouTube star in the world, over a series of videos featuring anti-Semitic messages, The Wall Street Journal reported.

PewDiePie, the 27-year Swede Felix Kjellberg, whose gaming videos featuring inappropriate language, netted him 53 million subscribers, made $15 million in 2016, according to Forbes.

Some of his earnings came from a joint venture with Maker Studios, which was acquired by Disney in 2014 for $675 million. That joint venture has been scrapped in the wake of these videos, Disney confirmed to The Journal.

"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," a spokeswoman for Maker Studios told The Journal. According to a Wall Street Journal review, on his channel Kjellberg posted nine videos since August that "include anti-Semitic jokes or Nazi imagery."

The Journal reported, one such video from 11 January, featured Kjellberg hiring two men to make a sign, that read "Death to All Jews," using the freelancer website Fiverr.

Kjellberg later claimed the video was a joke that had gone too far. YouTube withdrew ads from the video, unlike with any of Kjellberg's other videos. It had not taken down any other video of his videos.

According to commentators, it was not the first time Disney had dropped a deal over concerns for its family-friendly image. The company allegedly walked away from a buyout of micro-blogging site Twitter last year.

PewDiePie addressed the controversy, in a recent Tumblr post, ''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.

''As laughable as it is to believe that I might actually endorse these people, to anyone unsure on my standpoint regarding hate-based groups: No, I don't support these people in any way.''

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