Joke’s on who? PewDiePie NOT donating $50k to ADL after uproar, says pledge was ‘mistake’
YouTube celebrity PewDiePie has canceled his $50,000 pledge to the Anti-Defamation League, calling it a mistake, after his fans wondered if “blackmail” made him back a group that had declared him and other creators anti-Semitic.
Felix ‘PewDiePie’ Kjellberg had promised the donation to the ADL on Monday, in a video celebrating his milestone of reaching 100 million subscribers. On Wednesday, however, he said the announcement was made at the suggestion of his sponsor, the coupon company Honey.
“I made the mistake of picking a charity that I was advised, instead of picking a charity that I’m personally passionate about. Which is 100 percent my fault,” Kjellberg said at the beginning of a new video.
The whole thing was planned during his wedding and honeymoon, felt rushed, and did not give him a chance to do much research, he claimed.
However, PewDiePie repeated the claim from Monday’s video that he wanted to dispel the allegations he was “alt-right” and that he felt the need to “do something” after the shooter who attacked two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand invoked his name before killing 52 worshipers in March.
“It’s no longer just about me, it affected other people,” Kjellberg said. “And I’m not OK with that... But this was not the right way to go about it.”
The original announcement drew both criticism and praise from PewDiePie’s fans. Some thought it was a clever way of disarming the organization that back in 2017 compelled Disney to disavow Kjellberg over alleged “anti-Semitic content” on his channel and accused him of “hate speech.”
PewDiePie killed two birds with one stone. The donation blunts accusations of anti-Semitism and it also pisses off the alt-right, whom he never wanted--or even courted--as part of his fanbase. Good move, @pewdiepie.— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) September 11, 2019
The overwhelming majority, however, thought that funding an organization that’s getting YouTubers banned left and right was a betrayal of his fans and followers.
The ADL has caused collateral damage to tens of thousands of small creators livelihoodsPewdiepie is not being a bigger man he's taking a payday on a milestone he reached thanks to the youtube communityHe then funds an organization that will get people in that community banned https://t.co/e0nqXLKFoS— Tim Pool (@Timcast) September 11, 2019
There was a lot of speculation that Kjellberg was extorted into making the donation by the ADL, or forced into it by his sponsor, in order to remain unbanned himself.
PewDiePie tried to laugh it off on Wednesday, noting that “people could tell that something was off, the whole internet just didn’t believe it,” and went “full conspiracy mode.”
It was very interesting to watch this unfold.
Reneging on the pledge may have stirred even more trouble for the Swedish vlogger, however, as social justice pressure groups and mainstream media outlets were quick to paint it as a snub of the “Jewish anti-hate group” and therefore proof that he must be anti-Semitic, racist, hateful and what not.
The ADL was founded in 1913 with the mission of fighting anti-Semitism, and has since become a powerful force in US politics, with social media companies relying on its judgments to “police” content uploaded by their users. PewDiePie attracted their attention in 2017 over a prank mocking the internet service Fiverr, in which he paid two men in India $5 to hold up a sign reading ‘Death to All Jews.’
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