You may have heard the news from earlier today about a certain YouTuber named PewDiePie getting dropped by Disney for publishing videos with anti-Semitic remarks. One question might remain for a lot of you, though: who is PewDiePie, and why should I care about this? Allow us to shed some light on the matter.
27-year-old Felix Kjellberg is the man behind the PewDiePie persona, and he is unquestionably the largest YouTube creator ever. It isn’t even close – Kjellberg has 53 million subscribers for his main channel, which is well ahead of HolaSoyGerman, the channel in second place with 31 million subscribers. As a fun little aside, those channels are the only two that have managed to beat JustinBieberVEVO’s 27 million subscribers.
The disparity between first and second place should better put things into perspective: PewDiePie is a force to be reckoned with on YouTube, and his legion of fans have made him one of the biggest internet celebrities ever. His channel seems to widely appeal to the post-Millennial generation or, to put a finer point on it, teenagers aged 13 to 18.
That is, perhaps, one reason you should care about PewDiePie’s remarks. If you’re of the belief that minds in that age group are still fairly impressionable, then PewDiePie’s antics can sometimes be a cause for concern. This latest gaffe is no different; though PewDiePie has apologized and reaffirmed that he’s against “hateful attitudes,” the content in these videos might strike some as contradictory to that claim.
PewDiePie made a name for himself making what are called “Let’s Play” videos. In those videos, PewDiePie records himself playing a game, sharing footage of both the gameplay and his reaction to what’s happening on screen. His random, off the wall behavior and reactions have earned him a lot of viewers, especially when he’s playing through horror games.
In the video below, you can watch him has he receives a ruby statue from YouTube as congratulations for reaching 50 million subscribers. In the video, he comes off as very thankful for all of the viewers who helped him get to this point. Just a prior warning, though: there’s plenty of profanity to be found within.
In recent years, his content has shifted to include vlogs as well. He still makes gaming videos, but these days he also spends a fair amount of time in front of the camera, speaking to his viewers directly. One of those vlogs is at the center of this controversy, as he used internet freelance service Fiverr to pay a pair of men to produce a video where they hold up a banner that reads “Death to All Jews.” That, if there was any doubt at all, was not a good move.
It seems that many people in their 20s and 30s – those who grew up with video games but not necessarily during the rise of YouTube – find PewDiePie annoying and don’t understand his success. It’s clear to me, however, that his videos are targeted at a very specific segment of the population and he knows how to play to that group of people perfectly. PewDiePie, in other words, is a pretty smart businessman despite the occasional screw up, and he has millions of dollars in advertising revenue to show for it.
That huge following has been capable of doing some good, as well. PewDiePie has used his insane reach to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity, and he was raising money long before he could claim to be the largest YouTuber in the world. His channel also tends to have a positive effect on the sales of games he plays, which has helped a number of independent developers find success in a crowded market.
PewDiePie also has something of a tense relationship with the press. He doesn’t seem to like the attention websites give him, and he’s arranged pranks in the past in an attempt to pull one over on the sites that report on him. Even his latest statement, he’s hesitant to the sources covering the story, as he didn’t “want to give them any more attention.”
To those within his target audience, PewDiePie is as recognizable as any famous movie star or recording artist. For better or worse, the amount of influence he holds as the most popular YouTuber in the world is immense, and when he says something unsavory, it tends to send shockwaves throughout the internet. That, in a nutshell, is who PewDiePie is and why you should care, so be sure to head down to the comments section and let us know what you think of his latest blunder.