Felix "Pewdiepie" Kjellberg's actions have cost him a business partner: Disney's Maker Studios. While the YouTube personality claimed a video published on January 11th was nothing more than a joke, the House of Mouse doesn't agree according to The Wall Street Journal. In the clip, Kjellberg hired a pair of Indian men from quick-task service Fiverr to hold up a banner that said "Death to all Jews."
His reaction is one of shock. "I didn't think they'd actually do it," he said on camera. This wasn't the first time the Swedish-born Kjellberg has invoked anti-Semitic and Nazi imagery, but it's apparently the one that was too much for Disney, which paid between $500-and-$675 million for Maker Studios in 2014.
The deal that Maker terminated was one where it and Kjellberg were in a joint venture that would result in produced videos, mobile apps and merchandise according to WSJ's sources. How much this will end up costing YouTube's biggest star isn't clear.
In a since-deleted video he defended himself with the following rationale:
"What I just think -- and I believe strongly in -- is that it is 2017 now. We're going to have to start separating what is a joke, and what is actually problematic. Is a joke actually pure racism? Is something that would be considered a joke purely homophobic, or anti-Semitic and all these things? Context fucking matters.""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," a Maker spokesperson said in a statement. "Maker Studios has made the decision to end our affiliation with him going forward."
As The Hollywood Reporter noticed, Kjellberg has issued a statement of his own. Writing on Tumblr, he said that the point of the video wasn't to disparage any one group of people, but to expose "how crazy the modern world is" in terms of what you can pay people money to do online. "I picked something that seemed absurd to me -- That people on Fiverr would say anything for 5 dollars.
"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.
"Though this was not my intention, I understand that these jokes were ultimately offensive."