NEW ZEALAND—The Mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand on Friday left 50 people dead and as many injured. The accused murderer live-streamed part of the attack and called out “subscribe to PewDiePie” during the incident. What is a PewDiePie? It’s a 29-year-old Swedish YouTuber, real name Felix Kjellberg, with 89 million YouTube subscribers. He’s been the top-ranked internet-famous Millennial since summer 2013 and is known for videos like “Bitch Lasagna” and “A Funny Montage”.
“The good news is, now everyone over thirty-five knows who I am,” said Kjellberg. “The bad news is, none of them will be interested in watching me play video games nor will they understand my rants.”
Kjellberg has come under fire for making extremist remarks in the past. “Just because I’ve used racist language, recorded videos with anti-Semitic content, hosted far-right guests, and promoted a fellow YouTuber who’s often homophobic—is this any reason to paint me with the same brush?” asked the YouTuber formerly known as Pewdie. “To say I somehow support those views? Where is the proof?”
When Kjellberg’s reign as the king of YouTube subscribers was threatened by T-Series, an Indian record label and film production house, a “subscribe to PewDiePie” campaign was launched. The call out became a meme and has since been adopted by the alt-right as a sort of rallying cry.
YouTube trend watcher Bronx Undertow has referred to PewDiePie as a gateway racist. “His occasional inflammatory slip-ups can encourage viewers to seek out more extreme views online. Mr. Kjellberg is the innocent toke that can lead to an anti-immigrant manifesto.”
Kjellberg remained confident that he can maintain his top YouTube ranking without the support of alt-right subscribers. “I am not afraid to declare my channel a racist-free zone,” declared Pewds. “How many white supremacist supporters can I have?”
At press time, PewDiePie’s ranking had dropped below the top 20.