YouTube star PewDiePie is under fire for a publishing a controversial video … again.
In February, the extremely popular Swedish gaming vlogger, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, became the target of massive backlash after months of seeding his videos with Nazi imagery, including one instance where he displayed a sign reading “Death to all Jews.”
Now he has courted controversy by uttering the n-word during a gaming live stream.
The excerpted live stream, which reportedly took place Sunday on YouTube’s gaming-specific subsite, YouTube Gaming, features Kjellberg playing a “last-man-standing” shooter game called Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds. In the video, Kjellberg says, “What a fucking ni**er” regarding another, unidentified Battlegrounds player. The incident has reignited debate over whether Kjellberg’s frequent, self-proclaimed “jokes” about anti-Semitism, racism, and Nazi leanings are really jokes at all.
The content of the live stream clearly violates YouTube’s hate speech policy, but even though it reportedly aired on YouTube Gaming, it does not currently appear to be hosted on Kjellberg’s Gaming live-stream channel.
Following the previous controversy over his anti-Semitic videos, YouTube canceled Kjellberg’s popular reality show Scare PewDiePie, and the prominent YouTube studio Maker, owned by Disney, canceled its partnership with him as well. He has continued publishing videos to his own YouTube channel since, and offers a subscription tier for his live-stream videos on YouTube Gaming.
In response to the new n-word controversy, some within the gaming industry are proactively trying to distance themselves from PewDiePie. One of them, a developer named Sean Vanaman, has issued DMCA takedowns of all PewDiePie videos in which his games appear — including the popular Firewatch and all other games produced by his creative studio, Campo Santo.
On Twitter, Vanaman spoke out strongly against PewDiePie and urged other developers to follow suit.
Vanaman is referencing PewDiePie’s status as the most popular personality on YouTube, an influence that can’t be overstated. As of his February controversy, PewDiePie had 53 million subscribers, a number that has since risen to 57 million. Just as his supporters defended him in February, insisting along with PewDiePie that the media was taking his string of “satirical” Nazi jokes out of context, many are now arguing that PewDiePie used the N word during the live stream simply because he was “heated” or momentarily upset, and that it bears no greater significance.