By Daniel Portales
Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, otherwise better known as the most subscribed channel on Youtube ever PewDiePie, no doubt has a tremendous reach and audience. This is both in the Youtube sphere as well as any social media site he is involved with, most notably Twitter and his mass following on that site as well.
He made his start as doing a series of videos called, “Let’s plays,” where he records himself playing video games while showing reactions and adding commentary of his impressions of any given game, a popular type of video to this day. However, he has recently branched out to do different kinds of content that he finds fun and would provide different kinds of content for his viewers to watch, mostly comedic and simple in nature. Often times however, being a comedy channel and the absolute most popular at that, he often threw criticism at online media that covered him and wrote about him. So he very often made tweets, and most notably videos that often poked fun at media that took certain things he has said and done out of context to put him into a bad light, and that anything ever written about him in the media are almost always written with a negative connotation.
In response, he often made jokes that he was actually a Nazi and a die hard Trump supporter, dressing up in stereotyped costumes of said people in videos, poking fun at their image as well as online media taking things out of context at times. Later on, he would make a video where he would have fun with a website he found where he would pay 5 dollars, and they would make any video saying anything he wanted. So he tested the limits of the website by having them say awful things like, “Kill all Jews.”
Normally, it can be obviously inferred that the joke doesn’t work unless what was being said to be considered awful, however the Wall Street Journal, what was seen as one of the more trustworthy publications out there, actually took many of these sets of videos and wrote a very damning hit piece on Felix. With no sense of irony, they took the many videos he uploaded for the sole purpose of parodying the things taken out of context, and used the clips out of context to frame him as a White Supremacist Neo Nazi.
(You must have a subscription with the Wall Street Journal to view the written article in question, but the video is public for everyone)
In reaction, the Wall Street Journal lost many subscribers, their video version of the events have been down voted immensely, and fans who already know about who Felix is and his character, have defended him fiercly on social media websites. A vast majority of gaming personalities, developers, and writers all showed support on Twitter in various ways, numerous Youtube videos were made in response to the Wall Street Journal and how they bizarrely they handled the coverage of Felix. Of course, this met with people taking the WSJ’s side on the matter as well. Most notably, J.K. Rowling herself actually debated with a large number of people on Twitter on the matter.
This would spark a really great debate on many social media platforms whether what was considered acceptable as jokes, and whether some jokes were harmful for society, and the nature of jokes themselves. Youtube itself for a week had many popular Youtubers coming to PewDiePie’s defense that would heat up the online debate and cause a pseudo intellectual/culture war on the Internet.
Since then, Felix has made a video responding to all of these articles written about him in response to Wall Street Journal, saying he apologizes for anyone he may have offended, but that he does not promote hate in any manner. But he still condemmed the WSJ and the media in general for trying to bring him down by being dishonest as well as call out hypocrites who have also joked about Nazi’s in the past. With one of them, surprisingly being Ben Fritz, one of the writers of the WSJ article.
Sometimes even the biggest names, like J.K. Rowling and the Wall Street Journal, aren’t immune to vast criticism on social media. And the exchange of ideas on Social Media might spark an otherwise interesting debate.