The largest YouTuber on the planet, Felix Kjellberg (a.k.a. PewDiePie), became a name associated with the shooting in Christchurch when the shooter said “subscribe to PewDiePie” before walking into the mosque and murdering everyone he could find.
This clearly put Kjellberg into a state of grief that he didn’t talk about much, and despite the reality of the situation being that he had no part in the killing, he clearly carried some guilt. It didn’t help that the mainstream media was pointing at this incident as proof that PewDiePie is the alt-right leader they’ve always said he was.
Fast forward and you have the YouTube star passing the 100 million subscriber mark, which is monumental. To celebrate, Kjellberg declared that he was going to make a large donation to a charity, and chose the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Needless to say, the backlash against the move was massive.
The ADL had previously attacked Kjellberg and congratulated Disney for severing ties with him after a video which displayed Nazi imagery and two men holding a sign that said: “Death to all Jews.” The video was proving that you can find anybody who will do anything online for money, and Kjellberg has denounced antisemitism and bigotry many times since.
What’s more, many of Kjellberg’s fans were upset due to the ADL being a part of various councils that advise social media companies on who and what they should restrict or ban, creating a lopsided political atmosphere on many social networks.
Kjellberg initially defended his choice to donate to the ADL in a Twitter post.
He has since deleted this tweet, as according to his latest video, he has changed his mind about the entire thing and has withdrawn his donation to the ADL.
“To be fair, I saw it as an opportunity to put an end to the alt-right claims that have been thrown against me,” Kjellberg said.
Kjellberg continued by stating that he felt some responsibility for the Christchurch shooting, but that donating to the ADL was not the right way to go about it. He also mentioned that some things came out about the organization during the time that he learned about, and withdrew the donation.
Kjellberg continued by saying he would have known all this if he hadn’t rushed to make this decision and explained that this decision was made while he was planning his wedding, and with the 100 million subscriber deadline coming up.
“I’m sorry for all the confusion, and I’m sorry for messing this up,” he concluded before going into his intended video.
Despite the mistake that he made, Kjellberg deserves both our sympathy and our appreciation. Not only did he listen to the words of his fans, but in the end, he did the right thing and didn’t take the route of appeasement, which too many people in the spotlight do in order to make bullies stop bullying them.
But I’d like to point out a glaring problem in relation to how people are treated by these bullies, namely in the media.
The Christchurch shooter promoted Kjellberg right before a murdering spree and the media used this opportunity to bully Kjellberg, and pair him with supremacist radicals. I can’t imagine what kind of hurt Kjellberg was feeling when he saw the video initially, and I can’t imagine how it was compounded by articles and tweets sent to him, all declaring that this was his fault.
It’s horrible that people with an ax to grind would go so far as to put the actions of a madman on an innocent person strictly because he ran afoul of them politically a few times.
I want to commend Kjellberg for not caving to these people, as they really don’t deserve to be caved to. More people should follow his lead.