PewDiePie, the internet star whose business deals were dropped by Maker Studios and YouTube this past week over pranks he staged involving anti-Semitic rhetoric, posted a video Thursday responding to the controversy.
The vlogger, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, apologized for the videos, one of which detailed a stunt in which he paid two Sri Lankan men to hold up a sign that said, “Death to All Jews” and then say, “Subscribe to Keemstar” (the latter being a reference to another YouTuber). Kjellberg also reiterated, as he said in a Tumblr post on Sunday, that his intention was to point out how crazy it was that it’s possible to use Fiverr to pay random people $5 to get them to say outrageous comments, and that he absolutely doesn’t support hate groups.
“I’m sorry for the words that I used, as I know they offended people,” he said. “And I admit that the joke itself went too far.”
Kjellberg added, “I do strongly believe that you can joke about anything, but I also believe that there’s a right way and not the best way to joke about things.”
But he also attacked the media, particularly the Wall Street Journal, which originally reported that Disney’s Maker had cut its ties to him. He claimed the newspaper and other news organizations have taken his “jokes” out of context to inaccurately portray him “as a Nazi.” PewDiePie characterized the Journal article as “a personal attack.”
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“Old-school media does not like internet personalities because they’re scared of us,” he said. “We have so much influence and such a large voice — and I don’t think they understand it.” He called out a 2013 opinion piece by Variety Co-Editor-in-Chief Andrew Wallenstein titled, “If PewDiePie Is YouTube’s Top Talent, We’re All Doomed.”
In July 2015, Variety featured PewPiePie on the cover of the “#Famechangers” issue, citing him as the most influential digital star in the industry.
Kjellberg complained that the media (until now) has only acknowledged how much money he makes; Forbes estimates PewDiePie had a gross income of $15 million for the 12 months ending June 2016. “I’ve literally raised millions to charities — that’s rarely ever spoken about,” he said. Charities that PewDiePie has raised more than $1 million for to date include Charity: Water and Save the Children.
At the end of the 11-minute video, Kjellberg gets choked up in thanking other YouTubers who have spoken out in support of him.
Watch Kjellberg’s full video: