The Walt Disney Co. pulled the plug on its deal with a YouTube star after a report surfaced indicating he had anti-Semitic jokes and Nazi-related images in his videos. NPR reports that Disney severed ties with Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, withdrawing its lucrative contract with him.
PewDiePie is reportedly the most popular video producer on YouTube, with more than 50 million subscribers. The NPR report describes him as “a profane, prolific video producer and comedian. He rose to prominence largely through videos of him playing video games, but now creates a wide range of popular videos, from pranks to sketches to commentary.”
The report cites an article Monday in The Wall Street Journal that says Kjellberg had a multimillion-dollar deal with Disney, which owns Maker Studios, the company that handles Kjellberg’s business.
WSJ reported: “Since August, PewDiePie has posted nine videos that include anti-Semitic jokes or Nazi imagery, according to a review of his channel by The Wall Street Journal.
“On Monday after the Journal contacted Disney about the videos, the entertainment giant said it was severing ties with Mr. Kjellberg.”
The NPR report adds: “Kjellberg is also the star and creator of a show featured on YouTube’s new paid service, YouTube Red. Engadget reported Tuesday that YouTube has canceled the second season, and is removing Kjellberg’s channel from the ‘Preferred’ category.”
The report notes that three of the nine videos cited by WSJ have since been deleted.
“In one video — which is still live — Kjellberg paid two men to write ‘Death to all Jews’ on a sign and dance beneath it,” NPR reports. “He reacted with apparent disbelief when they actually did it. A brief caption beneath reads, ‘Trying to hide a smile from triggered SJWs,’ which is short for ‘social justice warriors,’ Internet slang for liberal activists — who might complain about a sign saying ‘Death to all Jews.'”
NPR notes that PewDiePie says on the video, after a pause: “I’m sorry. I didn’t think they would actually do it. I feel partly responsible. … I mean, I gotta give them five stars for an outstanding experience because at least they did what I asked.”
Kjellberg, who has been enmeshed in controversies in the past, has defended the content of his videos as jokes, accusing his critics of taking the material out of context.