More than a month since the New Zealand mosque murders, Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg has now acknowledged that, maybe, the link – however questionable – between his name and white supremacist violence has become kind of awkward.
“To have my name associated with something so unspeakably vile has affected me in more ways than I’ve let shown,” he explains in a video uploaded to YouTube over the weekend. “I just didn’t want to address it right away, and I didn’t want to give the terrorist any more attention. I didn’t want to make it about me, because I don’t think it has anything to do with me. To put it plainly, I didn’t want hate to win.
“But it’s clear to me now the ‘subscribe to PewDiePie’ movement should have ended then.”
The meme started in 2018 as a campaign to keep Kjellberg’s YouTube channel at the top of service’s subscriber counts, with Bollywood music video channel T-Series expected to overtake him at the time. The independent content producer versus corporate exploitation is a provocative premise, perhaps, but because it’s the internet, some people got… over-zealous and stupid about it – a WW2 memorial in New York, for example, was subsequently defaced with “subscribe to PewDiePie” graffiti, and hackers compromised the Wall Street Journal and Chromecast devices with the same promos.
“When you have 90 million people riled up about something,” he says, “you’re bound to get a few degenerates.”
Despite these endeavours, the T-Series channel now has approximately one million more subscribers than PewDiePie.
“Some people, and some media,” he claims, have made this about “race or about politics or nationality. I don’t agree with that at all and I want that to stop. This negative rhetoric is something I don’t agree with at all. To make it perfectly clear, no I’m not racist, no I don’t support any form of racist comments or hate toward anyone.
“This movement started out of love and support, so let’s end it with that.”