Google drops YouTuber PewDiePie's show over anti-Semitic stunt
Online video star dropped by Disney's Maker Studios Monday night
Disney's Maker Studios and Google's YouTube are distancing themselves from a top online video star after he made jokes construed as anti-Semitic and posted Nazi imagery in his videos.
Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, has the most popular YouTube channel, with more than 53 million subscribers. His videos have accumulated more than 14.7 billion views.
The Swedish YouTube star rose to fame by posting videos of himself playing and commenting about video games.
More recently, he branched out into non-gaming videos that show him performing skits, stunts or making jokes. One video posted in January showed an Indian comedy duo known as the Funny Guys holding up a sign reading: "Death to all Jews." (Warning: strong language in linked video)
Kjellberg hired the duo on Fiverr, a freelance website where users can commission design, programming or other creative work for $5. He said the video was meant to demonstrate how far people will go if they get paid to do something, but didn't think the comedy duo would actually go through with it.
In a blog post, Kjellberg said he was making jokes, but realizes now that they were offensive.
Kjellberg's channel was already part of Maker Studios when the Walt Disney Co. bought the company for $883 million in 2014. Maker contracts individuals such as Kjellberg to produce videos for various YouTube channels.
Kjellberg pulled the video showing the two men displaying the anti-Semitic sign, but it is excerpted in a Wall Street Journal video. Other videos still on the site show Nazi imagery being used satirically.
"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," the studio told entertainment industry publication Variety.
A YouTube spokesperson confirmed to CBC News that it has cancelled the release of the second season of Kjellberg's reality show Scare PewDiePie and also removed the PewDiePie channel from its Google Preferred advertising program, which aggregates top YouTube content for advertisers.
With files from CBC News