PewDiePie may have one of the most subscribed YouTube channels in the world, but he’s also had his fair share of controversies.
The Swedish star has definitely seen success, racking up four billion views just in 2019, and more than 100 million subscribers over the course of his career.
His battle with T-Series saw him dominating headlines late last year, and his charity livestreams and donations definitely shouldn’t be forgotten.
However, all of that hasn’t come without the times when he’s got himself into hot water.
‘Death to all Jews’ sign (January 2017)
PewDiePie has faced various claims of anti-Semitism over the years, one of the most memorable being when he paid actors on Fiverr to hold up a sign reading ‘Death to all Jews’.
The actors posted a follow up video saying saying they were sorry for the sign and that, while they knew they were writing something in English, they didn’t understand what the message meant.
PewDiePie later wrote a Tumblr post hoping to ‘clear some things up’.
He said he was just trying to show ‘how crazy the modern world is’, and that he is ‘in no way supporting any kind of hateful attitudes’.
Shocking racial slur (September 2017)
One of Felix’s worst controversies came when he dropped the N-word while live streaming himself playing Players Unknown Battlegrounds.
‘What a f***ing n****r… sorry but what the f***,’ he said, pausing and apologising before laughing and realising his error.
The shocking use of language came just weeks after the YouTuber had attempted to distance himself from Nazism, after his use of hateful language saw him lose a brand deal with Disney and have his YouTube Red series cancelled.
Later apologising, the Brighton-based star said: ‘It was something I said in the heat of the moment, I said the worst word I could possibly think of, and it just sort of slipped out.
‘I’m disappointed in myself because it seems like I’ve learned nothing from all these past controversies.
‘It’s not that I think I can say or do whatever I want and get away with it, that’s not it at all, I’m just an idiot, but that doesn’t make what I said or how I said it OK.’
Insensitive Demi Lovato meme (July 2018)
Fast-forward to 2018, when singer Demi Lovato was sadly rushed to hospital after an apparent drug overdose.
While she was in hospital, Felix took to social media to share a tasteless joke about the Sorry Not Sorry singer.
The post in question showed a ‘cartoon strip’ of someone asking their mum for money to buy a burger, but who ‘actually buys heroin like a boss’ – with Demi’s face pasted on top.
Following backlash online, PewDiePie was forced to delete his meme about Demi and he apologised to her fans too.
Taking to Twitter, the YouTuber – real name Felix Kjellberg – apologised for sharing the post, and explained he didn’t realise it was insensitive.
‘Deleted meme’ he told his followers. ‘I didn’t mean anything with it and I didn’t fully know about the situation. I realise now it was insensitive, sorry!’
Promoting anti-Semitic channel E;R (December 2018)
The YouTuber also landed himself in hot water by promoting channel E;R in an episode of Pew News.
YouTube had previously taken down videos from the channel that allegedly contained hate speech and bigotry, while E;R was also criticised for a joke that included a parallel between the Charlottesville rally, which resulted in the death of Heather Heyer, and Netflix series Death Note.
Felix later insisted he hadn’t realised the Nazi connotations attached to the channel.
‘They have hidden Nazi references in their videos, obviously if I noticed that I wouldn’t have referenced him in the shout out,’ he said.
‘Not because I have a problem with Nazi references being offensive in themselves, but because I said that I was going to distance myself from Nazi jokes.
‘Generally, I’ve done that. I don’t really have a reason to dip into that again; it’s stupid.’
‘Sub to PewDiePie’ graffiti (March 2019)
Amid the PewDiePie and T-Series subscriber battle, Felix’s fans adopted the seemingly harmless motto ‘sub to PewDiePie’.
However, it was also used at some pretty horrifying moments – including being scrawled on a World War II memorial in New York City.
The YouTuber later branded the graffiti ‘disgusting’.
‘I don’t think I’ve done anything to condone this sort of behaviour,’ he said in an episode of Pew News. ‘Obviously it’s disgusting, obviously I don’t condone it whatsoever.’
He added: ‘I don’t know why anyone got it in their mind to do this, it’s stupid,’ before asking fans to let him know when it had been removed.
The 30-year-old also made a donation to the park, saying he was ‘glad it got fixed’.
Petition for removal from YouTube (April 2019)
Earlier this year, PewDiePie also faced a petition for his removal from YouTube, which accused him of having a ‘white supremacist platform’.
The creator, Maria Ruiz, claimed: ‘PewDiePie has on many occasions proven once and again to promote and affiliate himself with white supremacist and Nazi ideologies. Worst of all his channel is very much aimed toward children in their formative years.’
It referred to many of his controversies, including his use of racial slurs. However, Felix hit back at the petition in one of his videos, branding it ‘defamatory’.
Assessing the allegations made against him, he said: ‘Just by glancing over the points that they made against me, it’s so blatantly misrepresenting and misinforming people, a lot of these points are just flat out lies, as well.’
After calling the petition ‘defamatory’, Felix added: ‘There’s nothing to back up any of the claims.’
The star made his way through the accusations, pointing out that some happened years ago, and claiming that others didn’t happen at all.
ADL donation (September 2019)
In one of his most recent controversies, PewDiePie donated $50,000 (£40,000) to the Anti-Defamation League, an international Jewish organisation which aims to fight against anti-Semitism.
Fans were left confused by the donation, since the organisation had publicly slammed him back in 2017 and praised Disney for cutting ties with him.
He later rescinded his donation, admitting it was a ‘mistake.’
‘To be fair, I saw it as an opportunity to put an end to the alt-right claims that have been thrown against me,’ Felix explained.
‘It wasn’t to try and clear my name or save grace – if it was, I would have done it years ago. But after the Christchurch tragedy, I felt a responsibility to do something about it because it’s no longer just about me, it affected other people in a way, and I’m not okay with that.’
Admitting the process was ‘all very rushed’, he added: ‘It really doesn’t feel genuine for me to proceed with the donation at this point and instead I want to take my time…doing it with the right charity.’
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