Three days after Disney severed ties with PewDiePie over anti-Semitism accusations, the Swedish YouTube star posted a new video apologizing for the joke – and hitting back at his critics.
Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, is the world’s highest paid YouTuber with more than 53 million subscribers and videos totalling more than 14 billion views, more than anybody else on the site.
But the 27-year-old’s success was interrupted this week after Disney’s Maker Studios, which had previously announced plans to put him in charge of his own YouTube network, told the Wall Street Journal it had decided to drop him following a series of videos containing jokes about Nazi imagery, including one of him paying two men to hold up a sign saying “Death to all Jews”.
PewDiePie had already responded to some of the criticism of that clip, saying he had intended to “show how crazy the modern world is”, but on Thursday he posted a new video calling the Wall Street Journal’s article of him a “personal attack”.
“I’m still here, I’m still making videos. Nice try, Wall Street Journal. Try again, motherf***ers,” he says in the clip, kissing his middle finger.
However, he also apologizes: “I’m sorry for the words I used, as I know they offended people, and I admit that the joke itself went too far.”
News of Disney’s decision to cut its ties with the star quickly grabbed global headlines this week, with some of his critics accusing him of acting like fascism is cool and normalizing racism and hate.
In response to the above tweet by author JK Rowling, PewDiePie says in the video: “A personal attack like this to portray me as anti-Semitic is doing no one a favour. You’re targeting some Swedish guy that tries to be funny, most of the time it doesn’t really go well. Very offensive, but he means well.”
“Is there any hate in what I do? No, there’s not. Personally, I think they are the ones normalizing hatred. Because, there is actual hatred out there. There’s actual issues. Instead of celebrating my show getting cancelled, why don’t we focus on that?” he adds.
At the end of the video he appears to tear up thanking his fans for their support. “Finally, I want to give the warmest thanks to everyone who supported me. It’s been incredible to see. Thank you, everyone in the YouTube community. It means a lot, thank you.”
A spokesperson for Dow Jones, the publisher of the Wall Street Journal, said the company stood by its reporting.