In a display of solidarity for embattled YouTube star Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg, several prominent YouTubers appeared on a live stream to discuss issues with the media. Hosted by Carl Benjamin, commonly known as Sargon of Akkad, the stream lasted over five hours and featured YouTubers JonTron, Boogie2988, Philip DeFranco, Sky Williams, TheNeedleDrop and more.
Titled “The Beautiful Destruction of the Mainstream Media #PewDieGate,” the stream covered a wide range of topics from political correctness, race, and the recent violent Berkeley protests, but what brought them all together was what they view as a concerted attack against one of their own by a media they feel is manufacturing outrage for clicks at PewDiePie’s reportedly anti-Semitic jokes.
“I love shock humor,” said Boogie2988. “I personally choose not to do it on YouTube… I don’t want to hurt anybody. But I don’t think it’s ever wrong to do it. I love when people do it. I love when Felix does it… I see no real harm in it.”
Sargon noted the class conflict involved in what he sees as YouTubers vs. media, to which Philip DeFranco said, “They’re going after PewDiePie because of his size, because they want to knock him down.”
“They don’t like that they can’t influence his stuff,” laughed JonTron.
Throughout the stream they decried what they consider the overuse of “fascist” and “Nazi” labels, especially when it is applied to PewDiePie by media outlets such as The Independent. “What the f— does it mean anymore?!” said JonTron.
When asked how this controversy would end, Boogie2988, a normally controversy-averse figure, replied, “I think the 24 hours news cycle will recycle it as often as they can, try to get Felix’ name on the news as often as they can, try to get as many detached parents to hate him as humanly possible, try to do as much damage to YouTube the platform and his career as possible, then they’ll move on to the next thing and wait for someone else on YouTube to put a foot in their mouth and do it all over again.”
“At the end of the day, I think Felix is one of the most intelligent, talented people on this platform, and I expect him to rise above,” he concluded, noting that PewDiePie is one of the most capable figures of fighting this battle against the media.
Many other YouTubers have posted video after video in defense of PewDiePie as well. Ethan Klein of h3h3Productions posted a video noting that the complaints against PewDiePie seem to ignore the all important context around his jokes. After the Sargon live stream, Klein posted a challenge on Twitter for the media to cover the overwhelming support PewDiePie has received – a challenge I have accepted with the title of this article.
For his part, PewDiePie released a video response earlier in the day where he apologized for his perceived anti-Semitic joke and said that he would keep that in mind going forward. He lambasted the media for what he considers an outright attack against him. At the end of the video, when talking about the support he has received throughout this controversy, tears welled up in his eyes.
I have sent emails to two of the three Wall Street Journal reporters writing about the controversy. I asked them why they would contact Disney and what was their goal in doing so. “We always reach out to all parties involved in any article we write, before we publish,” replied Jack Nicas. “Our only goal was to get their comment for the story.”
I have sent a follow-up question and hope to hear more from them.