YouTube celebrity PewDiePie has issued a formal apology for his use of a racial slur during a recent livestream that sparked outrage within large segments of the gaming community, including some developers of the games he streams.
In a new video titled My Response, PewDiePie (aka Felix Kjellberg) said that his use of the word "n****r" during a round of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds was unacceptable. "I'm disappointed in myself because it seems like I've learned nothing from all these past controversies. And 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. But that doesn't make what I said or how I said it okay. It was not okay."
His "past controversies" include the use of anti-Semitic comments and Nazi imagery in some videos, prompting Disney to cut off ties with him back in February. After the incidents in Charlottesville, Va., he had said he would not make any more comments about Nazis or Jewish individuals, particularly since the alt-right and fascist sympathizers had started to call him one of their own.
"I'm really sorry if I offended, hurt or disappointed anyone with all of this," Kjellberg said. "Being in the position I am, I should know better. I know I can't keep messing up like this. I owe it to my audience and to myself to do better than this because I know I'm better than this. I really want to improve myself and better myself, not just for me, but for anyone who looks up to me or anyone who's influenced by me. That's how I want to move forward away from this."
Many of Kjellberg's fans were quick to jump to his defense after the current controversy erupted, while others quickly condemned his commentary. At least one developer, Sean Vanaman, the co-founder of Campo Santo and creator of the game Firewatch, threatened to have company lawyers issue DMCA takedown requests to YouTube for all his videos that included footage of the game.
"I am sick of this child getting more and more chances to make money off of what we make," Vanaman said in a tweet. "He's worse than a closeted racist: he's a propagator of despicable garbage that does real damage to the culture around this industry."
It will be interesting to see if this apology will mollify his detractors, given his history of controversial commentary and his admitted failure to learn from his mistakes. As long as his fans continue to excuse his missteps and watch his videos, he likely will have little financial incentive to change. Hopefully, the apology this time is sincere enough to mean actual change in his behavior rather than to just quell a controversy.
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