(Un)Popular YouTuber Felix ‘PewDiePie’ Kjellberg has landed himself in yet another sticky mess and this time, he seems to be up against over 68,000 people.
A petition has been doing the rounds to remove the Swedish comedian and game-commentator, who has often been tagged racist and anti-Semitic, from the video-sharing website YouTube. And it has gathered over 65,000 signatures in just a short span of time.
The petition was organised by Maria Ruiz in the wake of the March 15 terror attack in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, an incident that was widely regarded as an act of race hate and Islamophobia. 50 persons were killed in the shooting.
In the petition, Ruiz states that the popular PewDs was responsible for the "normalisation of white supremacy," stating it as a reason for him to be permanently cancelled from YouTube.
This is not the first time PewDiePie has to had to face accusations of supporting racism and there has been a good reason for it. In 2017, US's Wall Street Journal uncovered nine videos and clips of the Swede in which he can allegedly be seen displaying anti-Semitic and racist content.
Several instances of PewDiePie using Nazi references in his clips have also lent their weight to the claims against him.
In one such video, PewDiePie hired two Indian boys using the "Fiverr" app to hold up anti-Jewish posters and film themselves. In fact, after the WSJ investigation, Walt Disney dropped its deal with the YouTuber and even the video-sharing platform distanced itself from its star performer.
However, with 92,894,877 subscribers on his YouTube channel and estimated net earnings of $15.5 million in 2018, it looks like the Antisemitism may not be making such a large dent in his popularity after all. In fact, it has only grown. A 2017 report in New York Times recorded PewDiePie's followers at 53 million. It has nearly doubled now.
While the backlash of 2017 did cause advertisers to distance themselves from the YouTube star, they soon returned. As per a report in Forbes, advertisers are ready to shell out big bucks to the tune of $450,000 for sponsored videos on PewDiePie's channel.
The backlash has been growing, especially after the Christchurch gunman, in a video released prior to the attack, ends his racist rant by asking people to "subscribe to PeDiePie". Several other YouTubers and celebrities have now joined the movement against him. Recently, American hip-hop artist Talib Kweli slammed PewDiePie on Twitter for being racist. "Pewdiepie fans spent a month trolling me and calling me a n****r right here on Twitter because I called Pewdiepie a racist. Many other people tell me to ignore white supremacists and racism online because “it’s not real.” This is why I refuse to".
Pewdiepie fans spent a month trolling me and calling me a nigger right here on twitter because I called Pewdiepie a racist. Many other people tell me to ignore white supremacists and racism online because “it’s not real.”— Talib Kweli Greene (@TalibKweli) March 15, 2019
This is why I refuse to. https://t.co/O0jEqPYcst
Whether Ruiz's petition will make any change would depend on the amount of support she can gather. Can the number of signatures on the petition outgrow PewDiePie's worldwide subscribers? It's doubtful.