Disney-owned Maker Studios is dropping YouTube’s biggest name from their roster, after he published anti-semitic content to his channel last month.
Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, posted a video on January 11 in which he paid two men from Sri Lanka to construct and hold up a sign that read “Death to all Jews.”.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t think they would actually do it, I feel partially responsible,” Kjellberg said in the video, after reacting to a video clip filmed by the two men who were hired on Fiverr.
Within days of the video’s posting, YouTube stopped running ads against the content, in accordance with their advertiser-friendly content guidelines.
A week later on January 17, Kjellberg uploaded a video explaining his thoughts. “It might just be my crude sense of humor, but I think there’s something funny about that, and I don’t think there’s any actual anti-semitic thing about it.”
Maker Studios decided to sever their relationship with the 50 million subscriber creator, after The Wall Street Journal reached out to inquire about the videos.
“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,” said a spokeswoman for Maker Studios.
Google decided to follow in the footsteps of the Walt Disney Company, cutting multiple ties with the top-tier creator on Monday afternoon, Bloomberg reports. Kjellberg was removed from the Google Preferred lineup, which gives advertisers the ability to buy ads against an elite group of creators at a higher cost. They also opted to cancel the second season of Scare PewDiePie, his YouTube Red original series, despite announcing its renewal back in July.
This wasn’t the first instance of anti-semitism on his channel. The Journal reports that nine other videos with “anti-Semitic jokes or Nazi imagery” were uploaded since August 2016.
The Fiverr video was removed by Kjellberg, along with the explanation video from January 17, and another video from January 22 in which he paid a man to dress as Jesus Christ and say “Hitler did absolutely nothing wrong.”
“It came to my attention yesterday that some have been pointing to my videos and saying that I am giving credibility to the anti-Semitic movement,” wrote Kjellberg, in a post to his Tumblr on Sunday. “This originated from a video I made a couple of weeks ago. I was trying to show how crazy the modern world is, specifically some of the services available online. I picked something that seemed absurd to me – that people on Fiverr would say anything for 5 dollars.”
“I make videos for my audience. I think of the content that I create as entertainment, and not a place for any serious political commentary. I know my audience understand that and that is why they come to my channel. Though this was not my intention, I understand that these jokes were ultimately offensive,” Kjellberg said.
Fiverr suspended Kjellberg’s account, as well as those of the sellers he purchased services from. The two Indian men who held up the banner apologized in a video of their own, saying “we really don’t know what the message meant when making the video.”
As of Tuesday morning, PewDiePie’s YouTube channel still appears to be claimed by Maker Studios, but is expected to be released soon.