PewDiePie offers apology in new Response video
Just two days ago, the news broke of Disney and YouTube severing ties to popular YouTuber PewDiePie over anti-Semitic jokes. PewDiePie (Felix Kjellberg) has finally offered not only an apology but as well as frustrations with how the story itself was portrayed.
There is a lot to dissect within the video but the key point of focus is the apology itself. Felix stated that “I’m sorry for the words that I used, as I know they offended people and I admit that the joke itself went too far.” Comedians and entertainers will constantly try to push the envelope, shock value has its own place within the spectrum. Sometimes, a joke can go too far or fall flat. Felix continued by saying “I do strongly believe that you can joke about anything but I also believe there’s a right way, and not the best way, to joke about things.”
“I love to push boundaries, but I would consider myself a rookie comedian, and I’ve definitely made mistakes like this before,” PewDiePie continued. “But it’s always been a learning and growing experience for me…this whole situation has definitely been that for me. It’s something that I’m going to keep in mind going forward.”
PewDiePie did, however, refer to the response to the story by some as “nothing short of insanity.” While this could refer to the notion of the press outrage, he specifically pointed out those who were celebrating what some believed (and possibly hoped), would be the fall of PewDiePie. He queried how anyone would be celebrating the notion that people lost their jobs all over some jokes they might disagree with. He did give thanks for all the YouTubers who came in support of him.
It is welcomed that Felix was able to understand the issues many found with the videos in question. Acknowledging a mistake is key and original frustrations from the outrage came from his initial response video by which it was a dismissal. Instead of originally stating he messed up, he went on to defend the jokes for being just that. It did not help that he then continued to create such content not acknowledging why so many found issue in the first place. Felix in the video also had no animosity towards Disney or YouTube, understanding their decisions in the matter.
Felix also took the opportunity to blast the media, and more specifically the Wall Street Journal, for how the story was covered. Felix presented his thoughts how he believed he was a target for “mainstream media” saying that the constant fixation of his success became a sore point.
In fairness to Felix, looking throughout his career it is fair to say the media has never been completely kind or fair. PewDiePie represented a new form of entertainment is was the face of the new medium of YouTube. Regardless of personal feelings towards his content or him, he was and still is a pioneer of YouTube and the reach and popularity it currently holds. The most notable example of these attacks came from a Variety article four years ago. They were able to claim that we were all doomed by the fact people liked a thing, this is essentially what it boils down to. Felix references this story as an example of the media’s sights targeted towards him.
It is difficult to fully fault what have quite possibly been long held frustrations, yet in this case there is more nuance. The original story broke from Wall Street Journal and the subsequent follow up from Variety. While a story on PewDiePie is not necessarily out of place on a site like ours or other video games news sites, this time is was respected and traditional forms of media that took the charge.
Felix felt the nature of how the story was originally covered was itself misleading, setting up a narrative by which Felix was a sympathiser to Alt-Right and anti-Semitic ideology. The point of contention was the video posted by the WSJ which was a cut of the moments they believed led to Disney and YouTube distancing themselves. While many came to PewDiePie’s defence with “context” being the main point of contention, this argument can only go so far. Felix was still behind the jokes and they were still tone deaf. While context illuminates the set-up, the punch line falls flat and can ultimately be seen as offensive and insensitive.
There are fair faults that could be directed at the Wall Street Journal however, but more specifically the video package made for the story. Editing is a hell of a thing taking the most innocuous piece of footage and turning it into the tipping point of the greater narrative. Within context the “nine videos” touted by the WSJ can be reduced to a few moments of poor decisions on PewDiePie‘s behalf. The original article was to cover the story that Disney were distancing themselves from Felix after the incident. Where the issue arose was from the video which constituted the “evidence”. Most of it was spliced under that heavy music to create a sense of something much more than it was.
Wall Street Journal did respond via their website on the matter. Kotaku was able to provide select quotes from the story. The WSJ still stands by their story but notes some aspects Felix left out of his video response. They point out how the video fails to acknowledge the other video involving a man dressed as Jesus praising Hitler.
It is good that Felix responded in a direct manner. This argument over the incident has been nothing short of a spectacle of internet debate. PewDiePie did make some unfortunate jokes but he acknowledged that and expressed how this was a learning experience. For the Wall Street Journal, it shows a quicker draw instead of a methodical examination, especially with the video, can lead to issues of misrepresentation.
PewDiePie will be a target for many a piece due to his popularity and fame, which is still only growing. He was the first YouTuber to hit 50 million subscribers and still easily the most viewed man on the internet. His channel has taken no hits and many of the early critics like myself can accept the acknowledgement of mistakes made in his videos and the apology. Hopefully this provides a lesson to others in the YouTube space as well as organisations like Variety and WSJ, providing more respect to those in the YouTube and internet space.