PewDiePie apologizes for using the N-word, but actions speak louder than words

Considering the multiple instances of racism in his videos and social media presence online, PewDiePie doesn’t get to absolve himself with a 1-minute and 36-second response video.

Popular YouTuber PewDiePie (a.k.a. Felix Kjellberg) posted a response video today apologizing for dropping the N-word during a live stream this past weekend, saying that what he did was idiotic and acknowledging some of his past controversies. To refresh your memory, those include him tweeting that he joined ISIS, ranting against a YouTube channel starring a 5-year-old, performing a Nazi salute, paying individuals to hold up a sign that read “Death to all Jews,” and flippantly telling white supremacists to “keep doing what you’re doing with your tiki torches.”

The YouTuber has nearly 60 million subscribers and his videos are regularly watched by millions of people.

Two of PewDiePie’s previous response videos to the outcry against his actions have included him saying he’s not actually racist despite his actions, explaining he’s joking when he says offensive things, and accusing the media of taking his actions too seriously.

One of the most notable consequences for PewDiePie’s actions came after the Wall Street Journal published a break down of some of his anti-semitic displays, which led to Disney and its Maker Studios severing ties with the YouTube star.

After saying the N-word during a live stream on Sunday, game developer Campo Santo (Firewatch) announced Sunday it would be filing DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) reports to take down PewDiePie’s videos of himself playing any Campo Santo games.  

Developer Simogo’s response followed on Monday, requesting PewDiePie delete his videos where he plays its game Year Walk.

Following those developer tweets, PewDiePie posted his response video Tuesday, attempting his most sincere tone yet.

“You probably won’t believe me when I say this but whenever I go online and I hear players use the same kind of language that I did, I always find it extremely immature and stupid,” he said. “And I hate how I now personally fed into that part of gaming.”

He acknowledges that he has fans who look up to him and are influenced by him, and that he has to be better.

The apology doesn’t change the fact that his inclination is towards using racial slurs and insensitive language, and encouraging similar behavior, in a “heated” moment or not. It doesn’t change the fact that he has routinely said and done racist things in his videos and on social media. It took multiple controversies for PewDiePie to finally try at an apology that isn’t rooted in excuses, hiding behind the trite reply of “it’s just a joke” and “it’s just a prank.”

A quick look at tweets and comments in reply to PewDiePie’s response video show that at least some fans feel he never should have apologized, and that saying the N-word isn’t racist. This is part of the audience that PewDiePie and his videos cater to. These are the fans that are drawn to PewDiePie’s brand.

Apologies don’t make up for actions. An acknowledgement of racism doesn’t make up for being racist.

Actions make up for actions.

Don’t be racist.

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