As the PewDiePie anti-Semitism debate rages on and think pieces spew from major news outlets, many of the most influential, most-subscribed members of the YouTube community are weighing in on the matter.
Yesterday, he posted a video apologizing for some of the jokes that led to Disney and YouTube deserting him, thanking the YouTube community for supporting him, and accusing the media of conducting a series of personal attacks on him. In response to the video, several outlets, including Variety have published follow-up pieces on the matter.
Here is a small sample of what some of YouTube’s top stars have to say.
Markiplier, Current Subscriber Count: Over 16 million
Markiplier, real name Mark Fischbach, deals with the issue by bringing up the ideal of “respect on a basic human level” and “common human decency.” Fischbach begins the video in general terms, discussing how someone can be hated for their actions but still need to be treated with respect, before dealing more specifically with PewDiePie.
“I want to be very clear about something, Felix is not an anti-Semite and Felix does not advocate hate, and I’m not even defending the jokes that he made because even he has apologized…but he as a person, as a human being, he’s not these labels,” Fischbach says. “When it comes to dehumanizing someone or anyone, I won’t stand for that, because at the end of the day there’s going to be people that follow us and it’s up to you and me to show them what respect really means.”
Philip DeFranco, Current Subscriber Count: Over 5 million
Philip DeFranco, whose channel consists of a daily show recapping news and pop culture and presenting his own opinion on the news, posted a video which laid out the whole saga and then echoed PewDiePie’s feeling that he is being attacked by the media.
“The Wall Street Journal and all these other outlets, they 100% want to have a bead on the forehead of PewDiePie and that is because Felix brings in the clicks, outrage brings in the clicks, get them in with the headline and whatever happens after happens,” DeFranco says.
Later in the video, DeFranco says that the media’s reaction has made outlets “look silly” and has “added to the conversation of why (they) should not be trusted.”
“Thanks to you in the media, the way that all of you rushed to cover without looking for context, you have made him the temporary face and put him front and center in the conversation of free speech,” DeFranco argues. “And in the story of the media trying to take down people for saying things that they don’t like, or they think are offensive, the media will literally try and ruin your career if you make jokes about things that offend them, you have only made him stronger and more important.”
KSI, Current Subscriber Count: Nearly 16 million
KSI, a British YouTuber and rapper whose real name is Olajide Olatunji and who last year starred in the movie “Laid in America,” weighed into the debate via Twitter.
First, he tweeted PewDiePie’s apology video with the accompanying message, “We’re fully behind you bro,” before adding that he relates to PewDiePie’s current predicament, describing the media’s coverage of YouTube’s most-watched personality as a “witch hunt.”
Casey Neistat, Current Subscriber Count: Over 6 million
Neistat posted a video on Feb. 14, before Kjellberg had posted his apology video, defending PewDiePie for the most part, but also pointing out that given his vast subscriber count, he does have a responsibility to understand his audience and how his words are going to be interpreted.
“With an audience that size, it could provoke something that could definitely skew the moral compass of a younger audience in the direction that really befits no one,” Neistat says. “While ultimately I’m not a fan of this kind of humor, there’s nothing I appreciate or cherish more than free speech… but what this does underscore is that for YouTubers, just like everyone else in the world, you can say whatever you want but at times there will be consequences for it.”
Today, Neistat shared PewDiePie’s respsone video for a second time, calling it a “well considered and fair response.”
— Casey Neistat (@Casey) February 17, 2017
Earlier this morning, PewDiePie tweeted a claim that the WSJ had come to his home address to offer him “a platform to defend (himself),” and criticized the publication again for first approaching the brands he’s associated with for comment on the original story.
The saga began with the Wall Street Journal running a story on Disney “severing ties” with PewDiePie because of anti-Semitic jokes and Nazi imagery he had previously posted on his channel. PewDiePie, who runs YouTube’s largest independent channel with over 53 million subscribers, subsequently had the second season of his YouTube Red show “Scare PewDiePie” cancelled, and the company also removed his channel from the “Google Preferred” advertising scheme.