YouTube star Pewdiepie made an effort to distance himself from a perpetrator in the fatal Christchurch, New Zealand mosque shootings after the attacker reportedly called out “subscribe to Pewdiepie” during the terror incident.
At least 49 people were killed Friday, and dozens more were injured, at the two mosques targeted in the attack. The gunman in question demonstrated ties to numerous extreme-right ideologies and individuals in his manifesto and livestream of the attack, during which he mentioned the YouTuber. Pewdiepie, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, was not pleased to be associated with the gunman.
Taking to Twitter to express his distaste, Kjellberg wrote, “Just heard news of the devastating reports from New Zealand Christchurch. I feel absolutely sickened having my name uttered by this person. My heart and thoughts go out to the victims, families and everyone affected by this tragedy.”
But Kjellberg has his own share of controversial views. While he has not endorsed violence, Kjellberg has come under fire for making racist, anti-Semitic, and nationalist remarks in the past. In 2017, for example, Kjellberg was recorded using the N-word while playing a game and recorded several videos that contained anti-Semitic content. Late last year he promoted another YouTube channel that often uses homophobic and anti-Semitic language.
In spite of this, a cult of personality has grown around Kjellberg, as evidenced by the “subscribe to Pewdiepie” meme evoked by the gunman, in which fans encourage people to subscribe to Kjellberg’s channel so that he remains the most-followed person on YouTube. Kjellberg currently has 89 million YouTube subscribers, largely a result of the effective meme.