YouTube star Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg has been dropped by Disney's Maker Studios and penalised by YouTube thanks to a recent video upload in which he made an anti-Semitic joke.
In a video uploaded last month, Kjellberg used online freelance marketplace Fiverr to hire two Indian men to create a video wherein they hold up a sign that reads "Death to all Jews".
It's clear from the video's preamble and Kjellberg's demeanour, reaction, and prior behaviour that it is meant to be a joke – albeit one in bad taste.
"I am sorry, I didn't think they would actually do it. I feel partially responsible," Kjellberg says in the video.
"I don't feel good, I don't feel too proud of this, I'm not gonna lie. I'm not anti-Semitic or whatever it is called, so don't get the wrong idea. It was a funny meme and I didn't think it would work."
You can see the stunt at the 11:30 mark in the video below:
However, PewDiePie partner Disney didn't seen the funny side of the video.
"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," a Disney spokesperson said.
"Maker Studios has made the decision to end our affiliation with him going forward."
It's not yet clear what will become of Revelmode, a network created by Disney Maker and Kjellberg that features other YouTubers and produces "original shows, games, charitable programs, community events".
Soon after Maker's statement, YouTube cancelled the second season of Kjellberg's YouTube-backed reality show Scare PewDiePie, and removed his main channel from Google Preferred – its advertising program for selling popular "brand-safe content".
Scare PewDiePie was a subscriber-only YouTube Red show, while Google Preferred accounts get special ad rates and are only available to YouTube's biggest creators (PewDiePie has more than 53 million subscribers).
Kjellberg will still be able to make money from Google's regular advertising programs, but he won't make as much.
The two Indian men who held up the sign for Kjellberg's video were banned from Fiverr, but the service reinstated their account at the insistence of Kjellberg, other prominent YouTubers, and the public.
The pair claimed they didn't understand what the sign meant at the time.
This isn't the first time Kjellberg has drawn controversy for anti-Semitic jokes. As noted by the Wall Street Journal, eight other videos of his contain similar content, and American neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer to changed its motto to "The world’s #1 PewDiePie fansite" after this latest stunt.
On Tumblr, Kjellberg made his stance on the whole thing clear:
I was trying to show how crazy the modern world is, specifically some of the services available online. I picked something that seemed absurd to me—That people on Fiverr would say anything for 5 dollars.
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.
I make videos for my audience. I think of the content that I create as entertainment, and not a place for any serious political commentary. I know my audience understand that and that is why they come to my channel. Though this was not my intention, I understand that these jokes were ultimately offensive.
As laughable as it is to believe that I might actually endorse these people, to anyone unsure on my standpoint regarding hate-based groups: No, I don’t support these people in any way.