An Open Letter to Pewdiepie

Felix, you have to stop.

Dear Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, or (as those willing to entertain or indulge your nonsense call you), “Pewdiepie,”

This isn’t the first time you’ve done something… morally questionable, whether it’s taking advantage of poor people of colour under the guise of entertainment or making so many jokes about Nazis, you literally have to make a point to say that you’ll stop after the events of Charlottesville. Your history with race relations isn’t the best, to say the least. I could go into how using the premise of “comedy” to perpetuate destructive ideology is a weak defense, to say the least, but that’s another clown for another circus.

What this is about is the fact that you referred to someone as a “f*cking n*gger” during a livestream. There are certain points that I want to address in this:

  1. How are you, a grown adult whose whole career has been based on having an online presence, unable to stop yourself from yelling racial slurs while on camera at any given time?
  2. Why is it that a racial slur is the first thing you go to when you are angry?
  3. The flippant way you used the word is lowkey-telling and it wouldn’t surprise me if you used terms like this in everyday conversation.

Now, for anyone unsure of why this is such an issue, let me explain to you how racial slurs function in the western world. They were initially used to dehumanize people of colour, and to further them away from what the cultural ideal “should be” — in this case, “whiteness." It is impossible to take these words out of that context. And yes, you may say that “black people say the n-word all the time!” and you are right. However, people within a group reclaiming a slur has different connotations than someone outside of that group using it. Someone outside of a group using a racial slur that is historically used against another group again perpetuates the same systems that are the foundations of racism. The use of language to "other" a group of people is part of the problem.

But let’s take away the inflammatory word. What if we take away the history and gravity of it and just replace what you said with “you f*cking black person.” That still is a pretty awful thing to say to insult someone. Not only did he use a slur on a massive public platform, he used it as an insult. Being black is not an insult and someone of his age should know that, unless you’re willfully naïve and ignorant and have a history of such behaviour.

Now, since the event in question, you have apologized, which is cute. But the issue here goes beyond just you, Felix. It goes into the culture that you are part of. You have over 57 MILLION subscribers. That’s a large viewership and a large fanbase. That’s a large group of people willing to defend your use of a racial slur in a public forum. That’s a large group of people willing to totally dismiss the sheer reality of what you have done. People willing to defend your actions on the premise that you are “Pewidiepie!” Defending incredibly problematic behavior in this socio-political climate is a dangerous, slippery slope. Defending the people that exhibit behaviours like this is how these problems remain problems within our culture. This isn’t just about me taking a dig at you. This was someone who has seen a rise in racist ideology and trying to do what he can to fight this. 

Now since the event in question you have apologized which is cute. But the issue here goes beyond just you Felix. It goes into the culture that you are part of. You have over 57 MILLION subscribers. that’s a large viewership and a large fanbase. That’s a large group of people willing to defend your use of a racial slur in a public forum. That’s a large group of people willing to totally dismiss the sheer reality of what you have done — people willing to defend your actions on the premise that you are “Pewidepie!” Defending incredibly problematic behavior in this socio-political climate is a dangerous, slippery slope.

In conclusion:

Felix, use your head. Stop doing racist things, you goon.

Joash Musundi
Joash Musundi

A British Musical Theatre Person™ who loves and writes about identity, the arts, and popular culture  sometimes all at once! Stick around and have a read!

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An Open Letter to Pewdiepie