While the internet has enabled incredible technological leaps forward, it’s also given rise to some of the most absurd and obnoxious controversies imaginable. For those that consume their entertainment solely from online content, they’re probably aware of the most recent controversy surrounding, Felix Kjellberg, a Swedish YouTuber who goes by the name PewDiePie, and runs the largest YouTube channel having just crossed 50 million subscribers. He gained popularity for having a very engaging personality as he played horror games and has since branched out into a variety of different types of videos. Throughout his career, PewDiePie has always displayed a very dark sense of humor. For many people interested in the YouTube community, his humor is often looked at as childish, but even though his content is often criticized as being silly or infantile, his colleagues and fellow YouTubers seem to have a lot of respect for him as both a business man and a person.
The controversy arose when The Wall Street Journal published an article that pointed out several instances of both subtle and overt anti-Semitism in his content. What prompted this investigation was when PewDiePie uploaded a video where he makes fun of a website called fiverr.com where you can pay $5 for someone on the internet to do something, whether it’s draw a picture or record a short video. One service on the website that has gotten attention are two guys, who don’t speak English, offer to hold a sign with whatever you want written on it for a picture or video. When testing how far he could push the platform, PewDiePie tried to get them to write something incredibly offensive to see if they would still do it which resulted in a sign that said “Death to all Jews.” In the video, PewDiePie is sure that the sign was too offensive and the guys on fiverr.com wouldn’t hold it up. He was wrong however, because it’s likely they didn’t know what the sign meant, and is clearly shocked that such an absurd thing was possible.
This video caught the attention of The Wall Street Journal who proceeded to write an article condemning PewDiePie as an anti-Semite. In his response video, PewDiePie makes it seem like The Wall Street Journal was out to get him because they’re afraid of the influence that new media is gaining. Whether that’s actually the case is unknown, but it’s clear that The Wall Street Journal didn’t understand the type of videos PewDiePie produces, as well as his type of humor, and the audience he was speaking to. However, they’re not completely blameless because it’s since been pointed out that in The Wall Street Journal’s video showcasing all of PewDiePie’s supposed anti-Semitism, they would have had to watch him explain that he was making fun of people who think in such a way. Since context is so important when analyzing comedic content, it’s rather surprising that a publication like The Wall Street Journal wouldn’t take it into account. It’s quite clear from his body of work, and the public persona PewDiePie has maintained in the seven years since he started the channel, that he’s not anti-Semitic, he just pushes the comedic envelope.