27-year-old Swedish vlogger PewDiePie, who for reasons I can't even wrap my head around made $15 million last year for essentially rambling like a crazy person and taking video of himself playing video games, is once again being censured by one of the companies he works with after an outburst recorded live on Sunday in which he yelled the N-word at a video game character. This is now the second time this year that PewDiePie, a.k.a. Felix Kjellberg, has been called out for overt racist speech, though the last time he tried to defend himself (sort of) in that he was trying to make a provocative joke involving some possibly unknowing, non-English speakers.
As BuzzFeed reports, in the incident on Sunday, while PewDiePie was livestreaming himself playing the game PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, he yells, "What a fing nr!" at a character on the screen, and then says, weirdly, "Sorry, but what the f***? What a f***ing a**hole. I don’t mean that in a bad way."
PewDiePie, the biggest YouTuber, on his livestream: 'What a fucking n-word'. pic.twitter.com/mISevBEn4T— THE POP HUB 👄 (@ThePopHub) September 10, 2017
SFWeekly picked up the story as the company who created a different game that Kjellberg often streams himself playing, 2016's Firewatch, decided to take immediate legal action to distance themselves from Kjellberg.
Sean Vanaman, the co-founder of SF-based company Campo Santo, announced on Twitter that they would be issuing DMCA (Digital Media Copyright Act) takedown orders to remove all of their gaming content from PewDiePie's channels.
We're filing a DMCA takedown of PewDiePie's Firewatch content and any future Campo Santo games.— Sean Vanaman (@vanaman) September 10, 2017
Vanaman added, "He's worse than a closeted racist: he's a propagator of despicable garbage that does real damage to the culture around this industry." And he said, referring to the popularity of the video itself, "Furthermore, we're complicit: I'm sure we've made money off of the 5.7M views that video has and that's something for us to think about."
Kjellberg has attracted the attention of neo-Nazi fans ever since a prank he pulled earlier this year in which he used the website Fiverr to pay people in other countries to say and do offensive things on video the biggest offender being when he paid two men in India to hold up a sign that said "Death to all Jews."
The incident led to Kjellberg losing a deal with YouTube Red to make a show with them, as well as a deal with Disney’s Maker Studios both of whom were desperately thirsting after Kjellberg's astonishingly huge subscriber base (57 million and counting).
The Wall Street Journal subsequently looked back over PewDiePie's hours of content, and found multiple instances in which he (he says jokingly) employed the Nazi anthem, and made multiple other Nazi references.
With or without any context around the references, the sheer repetition of them was disturbing, as is his latest, clearly off-the-cuff shouting of the N-word.
It also makes all the more disingenuous some apologetic statements Kjellberg made in the wake of the incidents in Charlottesville this year, as real-life American white supremacists suddenly made international headlines. As BuzzFeed explains, Kjellberg only then decided to once-and-for-all distance himself from Nazi memes and jokes, saying, "If for some reasons Nazis think it’s great that I’m making these jokes, I don’t want to give them that benefit. So I’m going to stop doing it. Nazi memes, they’re not even that funny anymore. It’s sort of a dead meme. So just to make it clear, no more." And that was just last month, a full seven months after the drama surrounding his earlier video.
Why all this arrogance and on his part? Forbes reported in December that Kjellberg officially became the highest paid YouTube star ever, raking in a mind-blowing $15 million.
Once again, as with Kim Kardashian, the internet and social media prove that we are rewarding all the wrong people. And it has to stop.