It took Pewdiepie a few days to finally hop on YouTube to express an apology for his latest remarks that have the gaming (and YouTube creators) world up in arms. Over the weekend, PewDiePie, while streaming in front of thousands of people (many of which are young easily-influenced people), reacted to his partner being killed in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds by calling his opponent the N-word. This comes on the heels of Disney parting ways with PewDiePie, YouTube’s most popular streamer, after he made anti-Semitic remarks last year under the guise of bad jokes.
“It was something I said in the heat of the moment. I said the worst word I could possibly think of, and it just sort of slipped out. I’m not going to make any excuses as to why it did because there are no excuses for it,” Pewdiepie said. Later in the stream, muttered that he “forgot he was streaming,” which makes one wonder if this is something he utters when the cameras are off.
Many have taken issue with the defense that the word just slipped out and that it was a “heated gamer moment.” Even if it was, the choice of words has critics asking why it was an option in the first place, especially from someone who is white and has faced controversy before. Those calling out the YouTube star just aren’t buying it.
“It’s not that I think I can say or do whatever I want and get away with it. That’s not it at all — I’m just an idiot,” PewDiePie, real name Felix Kjellberg continued. “I’m really sorry if I offended, hurt or disappointed anyone with all of this. Being in the position I am, I should know better I owe it to my audience and to myself to do better than this, because I know I’m better than this.”
For what it’s worth, this is a far cry from his anti-Semitic non-apology, in which he said he was being misunderstood and cherry-picked by the media. It seems like he’s owning up to it, but being an “idiot” doesn’t really change the fact that one of, if not the most influential name in gaming is casually throwing out hate speech (clearly outlined in YouTube’s Hate Speech Policy).
The fallout from this issue is likely to be wide-ranging, with Firewatch developer Campo Santo filing DMCA requests to take distance themselves from PewDiePie’s playthroughs of their games. This has led to further divisive conversations around copyright claims, and whether the perceived abuse of a law is the proper path for developers to take in instances such as these.
At the end, this is another controversy that could’ve been easily avoided had PewDiePie been mindful of his choices. His success on YouTube is now in jeopardy, turning what would be innocent videos of him playing video games into needless controversies. Some would say he has not learned his lesson following his “Death to Jews” stunt from last year and may never learn it.