Disney-owned Maker Studios dropped Swedish YouTube star Felix Kjellberg aka PewDiePie from its roster Monday after he published videos with anti-semitic jokes. The separation was first reported by the Wall Street Journal Monday evening, and has since been confirmed by Maker, with a spokesperson sending Variety the following statement:
“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. Maker Studios has made the decision to end our affiliation with him going forward.”
Kjellberg is the most popular creator on YouTube, and has amassed close to 14.7 billion video views on his main channel alone. The Journal reported Monday that he had uploaded multiple videos with antisemitic jokes and remarks last month.
In one of those videos, Kjellberg had paid two people in India through a crowd-sourcing platform for holding up a sign that read “death to all Jews.” Google responded by removing advertising from the video in question, but Kjellberg defended it as a joke in another video uploaded a week later.
Both videos, as well as a subsequent video with controversial remarks, have since been removed from his channel.
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Kjellberg has been no stranger to controversy, frequently mixing crude language with video game humor an commentary. One of his latest stunts included threatening to delete his YouTube channel as soon as it reached 50 million subscribers — something he later called a joke.
Kjellberg responded to the controversy around his recent videos Sunday with a post on Tumblr, saying that his videos should be understood as entertainment, and not political commentary.
With regards to the aforementioned video featuring two men holding up a “death to all Jews” sign, he wrote: “I was trying to show how crazy the modern world is, specifically some of the services available online. I picked something that seemed absurd to me — that people on (crowd-sourcing platform) Fiverr would say anything for 5 dollars.”
He added: “Though this was not my intention, I understand that these jokes were ultimately offensive.”