Felix Kjellberg, also known as Pewdiepie and from here referred to as Felix, has once again used an insulting, hate-speech word on his platform. The mega-star was livestreaming Playerunknown Battlegrounds until he got irritated, and used the phrase “f*cking n*gg*r.”
He quickly tried to ‘correct’ himself by saying he meant ‘that assh*le.’
As Philip DeFranco said, “The hard ‘R’ and everything?”
DeFranco has defended Felix before, claiming sarcasm, context, and situation. Now, those are not applicable as it was just an exclamation of “That assh*le.” His recent use of foul language has led to indie developer Sean Vanaman to fire back with a suite- a story in its own right.
I have stated in other essays, such as my report for the Atlanta Jewish Times, that while the context of his ‘jokes’ might be used as a defense, the fact that the mega star was using Hitler as a joke at all was not okay. With such young audiences, the Swedish star is a representative, and showing such jokes as okay teaches young viewers that they can also make those ‘jokes.’
Since his Hitler ‘Jokes’, Felix was dropped by Disney, but remained firm that they were only jokes and it was just haters taking him out of context, nevermind the millions of young viewers learning this behavior from him.
As his defenses peel away, more of his audience have noticed that his shaky excuses aren’t adding up to the offensives.
The n-word does not mean assh*le. It has a deep history of abuse to the point that I’m not sure that abuse can even cover it. The history of slavery was dehumanizing, the history of segregation ended on a technicality only a few decades ago- my high school was legally integrated. The n-word cannot mean assh*hole when the history is so deeply rooted in American History of violence and hurt. I am miles away from Stone Mountain, built in the seventies as a giant F- You to integration, forcing the black communities to live in the shadows of the white men who owned them. The disgusting carving may never be destroyed.
Felix Kjellberg isn’t American. He is not a product of American culture, and may not have the education that living near Stone Mountain, or other imposing confederate monuments. His education may not have been at an integrated school, and who knows if he even has the ‘but I have black friends in real life’ defense.
The emotional depth of the n-word may be blind to him but the least he could do is to try to understand the hurt of it, at least for his viewers who pay his meal tickets. He knows people don’t use it, and as a human being, should understand the pain that he causes. However, it seems Felix is a product of Gaming Culture. While Gamer-Gate is a few years old, the culture has changed very little. The tolerance hasn’t changed, and without the diverse culture of ‘in real life America’ and only the loud, angry voices of gamers shouting the n-word through their headsets, it’s not so shocking that the Swede dropped the n-word like it was nothing. As a youtuber, Felix takes a part of gaming culture every day, drowning out the voicing of reason.
People love to say that too much time online can be damaging. While there isn’t much proof to that, what I’d like to say is too much time in the Gamer Culture may have dragged Felix ‘Pewdiepie’ down a dark, dark hole. He has an adoring following, willing to ignore the flaws, but in return, he has ignored the pain of his remarks. He refused to see the consequences of his actions. Even after the Charleston Riots, as he finally succumbed to reason and decided to stop making ‘Nazi Jokes’ it was not to prove himself better but only because he realized there were Nazis. His time in the Gamer Community blinded himself to the pain of his actions, and the reality of the world around him.
While the heavy culture of the n-word may not bother him, the emotional distress should be clear enough to stop him from using it again. The cultural pain of America that spread from nations, educating his young viewers, and the wide spread reporting of his actions should be a wake up call for Felix Kjellberg.