PewDiePie donates $50,000 to anti-hate org and his fans are mad

Controversial YouTube superstar Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg has made an unexpected $50,000 donation to the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish advocacy org based in New York. The same Anti-Defamation League which, in 2017, commended Disney’s decision to dump Kjellberg over an antisemitic “joke”. Has Kjellberg realised he’s made some oopsies and wants to make up for them, or is it some kind of conspiracy? Guess which version his fans are going with.

He announced the donation in this video, celebrating his YouTube channel’s 100-million subscriber count.

“I made a lot of mistakes on the way, but I’ve grown,” he explains. “I feel like I have at least. I feel like I’ve finally come to terms with the responsibility I have as a creator – about 100 million subs too late, but you know.”

“Making a donation to the ADL doesn’t make sense to everyone, especially since they’ve outright spoken against me,” Kjellberg added on Twitter. “I wanted to show publicly that I can move past it and move on. I think it’s important, this just isn’t my fight anymore.”

For most rational people, a substantial donation like this to a charitable cause would be reason to applaud. Not so much Kjellberg’s fans, though, who are convinced that he was obviously blackmailed by the ADL. And I think that the ADL is perhaps subject to legitimate criticism – in 2007, for example, director at the time Abraham Foxman opposed US recognition of the Armenian genocide, but subsequently reversed that position. But I also think that some of the responses from Kjellberg’s fans expose the real problem – they’re bigots, and they’re super upset that Kjellberg isn’t.

Outrage on the PewDiePie subreddit, for example, prompted one moderator to shut it down with this statement:

Regarding ADL. from PewdiepieSubmissions

Using “jew” and “rabbi” as insults? That’s probably not a random coincidence.

Kjellberg’s questionable reputation isn’t exactly undeserved, including a number of previous incidents and an awkward endorsement from the New Zealand mosque killer that, in April, resulted in a petition to ban his YouTube channel. And whether or not he’s a white supremacist (and I dunno, but I doubt it), it’s increasingly apparent that some of his fans definitely are. Kurt Vonnegut wrote in his novel Mother Night about a Nazi propagandist that “we are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be”.

But recently, it seems Kjellberg’s content has been less about moral provocation and edgelord memes, and more about weddings and Minecraft. Sorry, Nazis. Maybe your boy’s growing up.

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