Note: this article contains coarse language which may be offensive to some viewers.
By now, news has spread about the mega-popular YouTube star Felix Kjellberg, also known as PewDiePie.
The 27-year-old Swede has been making videos, mostly about playing video games, for almost six years — and in that time he has amassed nearly 54 million subscribers on YouTube, making him the most popular content producer on the entire website.
His success has earned him millions of dollars. His fans are loyal, dedicated, and passionate about his videos, and he has created a brand that countless people look to emulate.
The scathing report has also led to a slew of other articles taking a stance against the Swedish content creator. For example, take a look at this not-so-subtle Wired headline:
The title has since been changed to: “PewDiePie's Fall Shows The Limits Of 'Lol Jk'”
WSJ reported that since August 2016, Kjellberg has uploaded nine videos that contain Nazi imagery as well as anti–Semitic messages.
The two most significant pieces of evidence that the reporters gave included two men laughing while holding up a banner that read “Death to all Jews,” and another where Jesus says, “Hitler did absolutely nothing wrong.”
The article also claimed that Kjellberg's joke gave legitimacy to hate groups online and that these videos are normalizing racism and anti-Semitism.
WSJ took this “evidence” to YouTube and Kjellberg's sponsor Disney and asked for comment. As a result, Disney's Maker Studios was forced to make a decision: stand by their biggest star or drop him.
So they dropped PewDiePie and canceled their upcoming projects with him, stating:
"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."
In reality, Kjellberg's jokes were aimed at showing just how ridiculous the internet can be, and that people will do just about anything for five measly dollars. People on the website Fiverr, for example, are often willing to create offensive or hateful things for very little money.
What seemed to bother Kjellberg most about the WSJ article was their use of an out-of-context screenshot. In the image, he can be seen pointing to something off screen, but WSJ made it seem like he was performing a Nazi salute:
Immediately, Kjellberg went on the defensive. He even admitted that he took the joke too far in a Tumblr post:
"I think it’s important to say something and I want to make one thing clear: I am in no way supporting any kind of hateful attitudes.
I understand that these jokes were ultimately offensive.
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."
But then something fascinating started to unfold.
As soon as the WSJ article was published, the YouTube community began rallying around Kjellberg and has started pushing back against the claims of anti-Semitism.
As a direct result of the fallout, a massive group people, many of whom are under the age of 20, have developed a very negative view of the media that they otherwise might not have held.
Commenters are coming out by the thousands and denouncing WSJ. They are flooding Twitter with insults and criticism, and they are viciously defending Kjellberg tooth and nail against what they are calling an unfair hit piece by the media:
Nearly every popular YouTuber has addressed the drama in one way or another. One of those people, Ethan Klein of H3H3 Productions, who is Jewish himself, took to his three million subscribers to address the misrepresentation of his friend.
In his video, Klein says that he was offended by nothing Kjellberg said and turns the narrative around on those aiming to destroy YouTube's most popular star.
He's also been very active on Twitter:
In his most recent video, Kjellberg lashed out at how the media has misrepresented him throughout his career. Instead of focusing on the good work he's done with his fame, such as the millions he's raised for charity, they've chosen to focus on the negative or obsessing over the millions of dollars he's made.
He also pointed out while he regrets taking his joke too far, these articles led to job losses for hundreds of people:
"I acknowledge that I took things too far, and that’s something that I will definitely keep in mind moving forward. But the reaction and the outrage has been nothing but insanity.
People celebrating the fact that my show got canceled, which is something that literally hundreds of people worked on. Is that fair, is that worth celebrating, over some jokes that you disagree with?"
While some in Kjellberg's fanbase may object to this comparison, there's also another polarizing figure who has taken the world by storm and consistently butted heads with the media:
President Donald Trump.
As President Donald Trump said while campaigning in Florida last year:
“They will attack you, they will slander you, they will seek to destroy your career and your family, they will seek to destroy everything about you, including your reputation. They will lie, lie, lie, and then again they will do worse than that, they will do whatever is necessary.”
And though these two figures couldn't be any more different, they both have been faced with, in their eyes, a seemingly hostile media landscape that wants nothing more than to see them fail.
While WSJ stands by their reporting, Kjellberg had one last thing to say to them and the rest of the media trying to take him down:
“I’m still here, I’m still making videos. Nice try, Wall Street Journal. Try again, m*therf*ckers.”