I just read an article out of what feels like hundreds all saying the same thing: PewDiePie aka Felix Kjellberg, has been cut off from his business venture with Disney, and Youtube has removed him from their premium channel YouTube Red for posting anti-Semitic content (Kovach, 2017).
I was personally a huge fan of PewDiePie, and I am still willing to be a fan if I can thoroughly be convinced he is not racist or anti-Semitic. But…this is much easier said than done.
In an article written by Steve Kovach for Business Insider, he poses some interesting questions regarding Youtube’s business strategy of generating and sourcing new talent from the internet’s public domains (Kovach, 2017). He questions the validity of Youtube’s strategy with regards to Youtube Red. He says that stars like PewDiePie who developed over the internet are a huge risk that should not have went unseen by Youtube (Kovach, 2017). The concept of “Freedom of Speech” runs so deep within the internet and it’s users that it should have been a no-brainer to for-see something like this. In conclusion, he asks readers to think about whether or not Youtube and other platforms like it should have better solutions to screen its talent (Kovach, 2017).
It also did not help that PewDiePie’s new video serving as his response to the incident was less than pleasing. I felt that he was honest when he did apologize for his actions, but he then attempted to put half the blame on the media. He seems to think the media cannot accept/understand him or popular internet culture and is trying to ruin him. I do I believe he does have a point that the media can misinterpret and skew information. I do however think he needed to stop blaming others where there is no blame in this particular case. I thought that all he should have done was simply acknowledge that his language and content was not appropriate. His view that the media is targeting him was not applicable to the consequences of his actions. He was using it almost to create a red-herring and divert the attention. As I said, his response video was less than pleasing, and he did not fully take responsibility which he should have.
What makes this case so confusing for me is that I want to believe that he is truly sorry for what he did, but in another article by Shona Ghosh, she writes that Youtube stars are now rallying behind him as well as fans (Ghosh, 2017). I feel like I don’t want to trust other fans, but I can trust other Youtubers. Some notable others are saying he is not an anti-Semite, and that he’s just a guy doing what everyone else is today over the internet (Ghosh, 2017).
I think they do have a point that lots of entertainment mediums like TV, film, and blogs, etc. use inappropriate humor yet, they do not garner such negative attention to the point where they are affected financially (at least from what I know). Family Guy, for example, has lots of inappropriate content as does the show South Park, so why do they still exist on air? That is the part that confuses me. I do not agree with their content in most cases (I am also NOT racist or anti-Semitic), but a small part of me feels this incident is also viewed as an extreme case that is creating a media frenzy due to the current political climate in the US. It certainly does not excuse his actions at all, and he should be pulled off the channels, but then I feel that certain TV shows and other media should as well. In other words, all mediums should receive the same attention when it comes to these types of incidents despite the political climate. The show Family Guy and South Park are criticized by the public, but they still aired episodes for years. The internet is a tricky place to implement laws and monitor but advertisers have laws to follow even in the digital space, so do companies. I think that Kovach is right in questioning Youtube’s screening process and their policy regarding misconduct. They cut his account on Youtube Red, but does that mean he is also banned from using other channels on Youtube? Or is he still free to continue posting what could be more inappropriate content? Will they cut everyone who posts similar content?
I am interested to hear what you think!
The articles are in the links!
Ghosh, Shona. (February 18, 2017). “He’s Not an Anti-Semite”: YouTube Stars Rally Behind PewDiePie. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/youtube-stars-rally-behind-pewdiepie-anti-semitism-row-wsj-2017-2
Kovach, Steve. (February 18, 2017). PewDiePie Taught YouTube A Valuable Lesson. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/what-pewdiepies-show-cancelation-means-for-youtube-red-2017-2