Disney drops YouTube star PewDiePie after anti-Semitic jokes

Disney has cut ties with Swedish YouTube star PewDiePie after he posted several videos with anti-Semitic content.

Disney drops YouTube star PewDiePie after anti-Semitic jokes
PewDiePie has more than 53 million YouTube followers. Photo: Ole Gunnar Onsøien/NTB scanpix/TT

Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, is the world's highest paid YouTuber with more than 53 million subscribers and videos totalling over 14 billion views, more than anybody else on the video channel.

He got an additional boost in 2014 when Walt Disney Co bought multichannel network Maker Studios, which last month announced it would put the Swede in charge of his own YouTube network called Revelmode.

But Disney has now said it is dropping the star, after Wall Street Journal asked it to comment on several videos recently posted by him criticized for containing anti-Semitic jokes and Nazi imagery.

One of the videos featured two men paid by the YouTuber to hold up a sign reading “Death To All Jews”. He later said in a statement that he had intended to “show how crazy the modern world is, specifically some of the services available online. I picked something that seemed absurd to me.”

“Though this was not my intention, I understand that these jokes were ultimately offensive,” he added.

In response to criticism pointing out that some neo-Nazi groups had praised the videos, he said: “As laughable as it is to believe that I might actually endorse these people, to anyone unsure on my standpoint regarding hate-based groups: No, I don't support these people in any way.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that PewDiePie has posted eight other videos featuring anti-Semitic content, including a man dressed as Jesus saying “Hitler did nothing wrong”, one including photos of Hitler with PewDiePie wearing a 'Make America Great Again' cap, one playing the Nazi Party anthem and another featuring a 'Sieg Heil' voiceover. Some of them have since been taken down.

Maker Studios told the newspaper it had decided to sever its ties with the channel.

“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,” a spokesperson added to Forbes.


Outrage in Germany after remains of neo-Nazi buried in empty Jewish grave

The burial of a known neo-Nazi's ashes in the former grave of a Jewish musical scholar has sparked outrage in Germany, and prompted Berlin's anti-Semitism official to file a criminal complaint.

Jewish scholar Max Friedlaender's grave stone in Stahnsdorf, just outside Berlin, on October 12th.
Jewish scholar Max Friedlaender's grave stone in Stahnsdorf, just outside Berlin, on October 12th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Jens Kalaene

The remains of the neo-Nazi were buried at the grave of Max Friedlaender in Stahnsdorf, just outside Berlin, with several figures from the extreme-right scene in attendance at the funeral on Friday.

Samuel Salzborn, anti-Semitism official for Berlin, said late Tuesday that he had filed a criminal complaint because “the intention here is obvious – the right-wing extremists deliberately chose a Jewish grave to disturb the peace of the dead by burying a Holocaust denier there”.

He added that “it must now be quickly examined how quickly the Holocaust denier can be reburied in order to no longer disturb the dignified memory of Max Friedlaender”.

Friedlaender died in 1934 – when Adolf Hitler was already in power – and was buried in the graveyard as his religion was given as ‘Protestant’ in the burial registration slip

His grave was cleared upon expiration in 1980 and opened up for new burials, under common practice for plots after a certain amount of time has passed.

Friedlaender’s gravestone however remains standing as the entire cemetery is protected under monument conservative rules.


The Protestant Church managing the graveyard voiced dismay at the incident.

In a statement, it said it had accepted the request for burial at the empty grave because “everyone has a right for a final resting place”.

“Nevertheless, the choice of the former grave of Max Friedlaender is a mistake. We are looking into this mistake now,” the church said in a statement.

At the funeral, a black cloth was laid over Friedlaender’s tombstone while wreathes and ribbons bearing the Nazi-era iron cross symbol were laid on the grave for the neo-Nazi Henry Hafenmayer.

Prominent Holocaust denier Horst Mahler, who has been convicted for incitement, was among dozens at the funeral.

Police deployed at the funeral were able to arrest a fugitive from the far-right scene there, German media reported.

Several war graves stand at the cemetery at Stahnsdorf, and these sites are known in far-right circles, the Protestant church administrating the graveyard admitted.

It added that it has worked closely with police to hinder several neo-Nazi marches there in recent years.

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