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Disney’s Maker Studios has severed ties with YouTube star PewDiePie, aka Felix Kjellberg, after he released a series of anti-Semitic posts to his 53 million subscribers.
Kjellberg, a 27-year-old Swede whose YouTube antics secured him multimillion-dollar deals with YouTube and Disney, posted a Jan. 11 video that included two men laughing as they held a banner that read “Death to all Jews.” He made a total of nine other videos that made anti-Semitic comments or used Nazi imagery, according to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the news.
Disney, which has owned Maker Studios since 2014, said it was severing ties with him.
“Although Felix has created a following by being provocative and irreverent, he clearly went too far in this case and the resulting videos are inappropriate,” reads a statement from a Maker spokeswoman. “Maker Studios has made the decision to end our affiliation with him going forward.”
Following the move by Maker Studios, Google-owned YouTube is also cutting ties with the star. A spokeswoman for the streamer tells THR that it has canceled plans for a second season of reality series Scare PewDiePie, which streamed its first season on YouTube last year. It has also removed Kjellberg’s PewDiePie channel from Google Preferred, its premium advertising tier.
Scare PewDiePie, produced by Maker Studios and Skybound Entertainment with Robert Kirkman serving as executive producer, premiered in February 2016 on YouTube Red, which charges $10 per month for access to premium videos and ad-free viewing. The second season, called Scare PewDiePie: Multiplayer, was to include Kjellberg’s friend and fellow YouTuber Sean McLoughlin, aka Jacksepticeye.
Kjellberg is YouTube’s top star, with more subscribers than any other home-grown talent on the streaming service. The gamer, known for his goofy videos in which he commentates while playing video games, also was the most high-profile YouTuber in Maker’s network of creators. Since Kjellberg signed with the YouTube network in 2012, Maker has helped him expand into new ventures, producing Scare PewDiePie and launching a gaming-centric digital network called Revelmode.
This isn’t the first time Kjellberg has made some controversial moves on social media. Last summer he was briefly suspended from Twitter over concerns that his account had been hacked. At the time, a source told The Hollywood Reporter that that suspension had been a misunderstanding that resulted from comments he made about ISIS and his use of a graphic Twitter profile picture.
Kjellberg took to Tumblr to defend his more recent comments. “I was trying to show how crazy the modern world is, specifically some of the services available online,” he wrote, continuing, “I think it’s important to say something and I want to make one thing clear: I am in no way supporting any kind of hateful attitudes.”
Feb. 14, 7:28 a.m. Updated to include details of YouTube’s decision to cut ties with Kjellberg.
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