PewDiePie goes on the record

Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg is the world's most popular streamer, a goofy gamer whose reactionary tendencies were relentlessly encouraged by YouTube and its engagement machinery. Now he faces the consequences, rich but frozen out of mainstream media and invoked half-ironically by alt-right spree killers. Kevin Roose interviewed Pewds for the New York Times, the first interview he's agreed to in years. What Does PewDiePie Really Believe?

The platform’s algorithms promoted engaging videos, with little regard for what made them engaging, and showered ad revenue on the most successful channels. And as all kinds of boundary-pushers raced to fill this void, it became harder to tell who had an actual ideology and who was just feeding the machines what they wanted. ... Kjellberg attributes this period to a combination of immaturity, boredom and YouTube’s platform incentives — which encouraged creators to increase their watch time by doing outrageous things. He says that he grew sick of playing video games and that his channel’s growth had plateaued, which gave him the urge to let loose. “Looking back, it was a bubble waiting to burst — this bubble of, how far can we push this?” Kjellberg told me. “I think YouTube at that time was at a place where no one really knew where the limit was.”

It's a good profile, especially its succinct explanation of YouTube's inner party of popular channels, influencers and streamers.

In Roose's portrayal, PewDiePie comes off as having been too stupid to understand what he does beyond its transgressive profitability. Read the rest

PewDiePie rescinds donation to Jewish group after fan outrage

The Verge reports that top YouTuber Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg is rescinding a $50,000 pledge to the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish group that opposes antisemitism and supports Israel. The donation, made in the wake of Kjellberg's giggling use of antisemitic imagery and racial slurs on his game streams, did not go down well with his followers.

I made the mistake of picking a charity that I was advised to instead of picking a charity that I’m personally passionate about,” Kjellberg said in the video. “Which is 100 percent my fault.”

Kjellberg previously addressed the criticism against his donation on Twitter, acknowledging that “making a donation to the ADL doesn’t make sense to everyone, especially since they’ve outright spoken against me.” A spokesperson for the ADL told The Verge at the time that they learned about the “potential donation when everyone else did: when he made the announcement on his channel yesterday.”

Regarding people who say bigoted things as a "joke", Ken White invented the Rule of Goats: "even if you say you're only fucking goats ironically, you're still a goatfucker."

To which I now add a corollary: "And the goats are now your fans." Read the rest

Gamer star PewDiePie canned by Disney and YouTube after anti-semitic postings

Gamer star PewDiePie was set for the big-time: 53m subscribers to his YouTube gamering channel and a hot deal with Disney to take his clean-cut mug to mass culture stardom. But then he started posting about the Jews.

[Felix] Kjellberg, a 27-year-old Swede whose YouTube antics secured him multimillion-dollar deals with YouTube and Disney, posted a Jan. 11 video that included two men laughing as they held a banner that read “Death to all Jews." He made a total of nine other videos that made anti-Semitic comments or used Nazi imagery, according to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the news.

Disney, which has owned Maker Studios since 2014, said it was severing ties with him.

YouTube also cancelled his reality show Scare PewDiePie and removed him from its premium line-up of ad-supported channels. Excuses were immediately forthcoming.

"I was trying to show how crazy the modern world is, specifically some of the services available online," he wrote, continuing, "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."

Here's the sign he paid a couple of Sri Lankans to hold up:

That giggling sociopathic edgyness! The veil of irony spread over it! Imagine that you just got your big family-entertainment break from Disney and the thought that hits you is "right, now to dial that up a notch! Who can I hire to hold up signs saying DEATH TO ALL JEWS?" Read the rest