PewDiePie vs Anti Semitism, my 2 cents (updated)

This post was reformatted from a series of Tweets which start here.
If you’re not aware of what this is about, you can get info here or here.
[Update: PewDiePie posted a response to the controversy here. Thoughts below.]

Update 2: The Short Version (as of Feb 17)
He agrees he messed up and went too far. Everyone agrees he went too far. That’s not in question.
The remaining question is: was he treated unfairly by the media?
To answer this question, we need to ask another one:
Do you think he’s being accused of being an anti Semite, or of trivializing antisemitism?
If you think he’s accused of being an anti Semite (that’s not what’s happening), you think people and media are piling on, and some variation of “but don’t you get that he was just joking/denouncing/doing it on purpose?”. My suspicion is that you’re under 30(ish).
If you think he’s accused of trivializing antisemitism (that’s what’s happening), you think people and media are deeply concerned at the consequences of these seemingly inconsequential jokes, especially considering he is the biggest personality on the Internet. My suspicion is that you’re over 30(ish).
In my humble opinion, most people agree on most of the situation here. For the rest it’s a matter of perspective, and a matter of generation. Older people have grown up with a strong understanding of the horrors of World War 2; it was part of their (our) culture and education. To them (us), talking about this is a delicate matter always. Similar to someone calling black people “niggers” or homosexuals “faggots” today. For younger people, this was a bad joke, sure, but it’s not *that* big a deal, and the media is piling on.

I don’t have an answer here, I just think laying out the issue in more easily understandable terms might help some people form their opinions. Let me know if you think this doesn’t seem accurate to you. One last thing: I do think that screaming “the media is dishonest/biased/etc” is irresponsible given today’s landscape; whether he wants it or not, he has great influence, so responsibility comes with the territory.
More on that below if you’re interested.

For the full thing, read on…

It seems there’s a backlash against the backlash against PewDiePie’s “anti-Semitic” videos. Here are my 2 cents on the matter:

I don’t think he’s anti Semitic. But, that doesn’t mean he can do or say anything and it’s ok because “I’m just joking”. The line is thin between humor and trivialisation, and I’m not sure he was in the right side of it. The consequences aren’t unjustifiable; he’ll be fine, it’s a slap on the wrist. No need for more drama.

However, the idea that we should “stop getting offended for other people” is FUCKING INSANE. We should absolutely get offended for other people! What are you saying? We should only be offended when we ourselves are targeted? What kind of morality is that?…

And the fact that one Jew doesn’t feel offended doesn’t mean “see? Jews are fine with this!! SJW ruining it for us again!!” – sorry, but no. This issue is serious, and it should be addressed. Panic and eternal condemnation of PDP? Hell no, he probably just went a bit too far. But go to the other extreme and just say it’s all fine and we should all “leave PDP alone!!!”? No, doesn’t work either.

He went a bit too far, got the appropriate response for it, story over. Everything’s as it should be. The drama, on both sides, is overkill.

Lastly, maybe my generation is too close to WWII and this is fading naturally. But we’re still here, and we still feel it. So… yeah.

/Rant over

[Update: Feb. 17, following the video response by PewDiePie]

In his video, he does two things:

  • Clearly apologize, saying he went too far, that he’s a “rookie comedian”, and that he’ll be mindful of this in the future.
  • Accuse the media of having taken things out of context and having been hard on him because they hate him and want to take him down (they’re old media and they are afraid of the power of new media).

Ok… So the first point is very commendable, it’s something that was important and he recognized that. Great. It should have ended there. On the second point however, I think it’s problematic on several levels:

  • First, were the articles pushy and not putting things properly in full context?
    Maybe. But even if that’s the case, it doesn’t make their narrative wrong. The title of the original WSJ article ins’t “PDP is an anti Semite and should rot in hell”, it’s about the fact that he made anti Semitic posts – doing anti Semitic jokes and using Nazi imagery (which he did).
    From there, the issue isn’t so much whether or not he himself is pushing neo nazi ideology (although that question is fair to ask as well), but rather the matter of, as has been said a written and explained a thousand times, trivialization.
    PDP’s response makes it seem like the whole thing wasn’t a big deal, and everyone else took it out of context and proportion. They might have pushed it, and you might disagree that it was a big deal, but this isn’t “manufactured”, and the questions being asked are legitimate, even if you disagree with the answer. This isn’t like some tabloid asking “IS THE PRIME MINISTER A CHILD RAPIST????” on the front page, only to answer “of course not” in the article. He did the things, he pushed the line, it was controversial; he can’t then turn around and then complain that the controversial things created a controversy.


  • Second, is he being treated unfairly by the “dishonest media”?
    Now that one is kind of sad… Keep in mind that PDP is the most popular person on one of the most popular platforms on the Internet. Arguably, he is the most influential Internet personality in the world.
    Why should he be treated differently from any other famous and / or influential person? Think of it that way: if a singer or actor had gone around tweeting “Lol, niggers really ought to go back to Africa”, or “faggots aren’t a huge issue, they’ll just all die of AIDS eventually”, we’d never hear the end of it. And we shouldn’t. PDP repeatedly make anti semitic jokes and dressed up as a Nazi. For fun, to denounce something, he had a good reason… Sure. Still, he didn’t do it just once, and it is controversial. What would not be normal was if it didn’t generate controversy at all. He’s being treated exactly as people with a lot of responsibility and influence should be (whether they wanted that responsibility or not is a different issue).


  • Third, since we’re talking about being irresponsible… I’m sure this is going to be the most controversial statement here, but I’m really worried about his pushing of the idea that the “dishonest media can’t be trusted”. In the current context, this narrative is as powerful as a weapon, and I am concerned about that part the most. The saddest thing is that he seems to almost understand what I believe is the key issue here: generations. He mentions that in his video: to one generation, this is a REALLY BIG DEAL, and trivialization is no joke, and he went too far.
    This is why “all the outrage”. It is not because “the dishonest media hates him”. Again, there might be a bit of sensationalizing of the problem, but that doesn’t make the problem “not a real problem”. And him basically playing the victim and blaming the media is not helping anyone. Quite the opposite. With great power comes great responsibility, and him playing the victim and refusing to acknowledge the power AND responsibility he has is disheartening and, in my particularly humble opinion, irresponsible.

All in all, I think he could have said “I messed up, but the response was too harsh and that was uncalled for.” It would have been understandable. Saying “they want to destroy me and the media is always lying” is… well.

/second rant over.

February 15th, 2017