PewDiePie posted a video last week in which he used Fiverr, an online marketplace that allows users to browse a selection of freelance services from across the globe, in order to get two Indian men to hold up a sign with the words ‘Death To All Jews’ written on it. Needless to say a lot of people weren’t happy about it, but it transpires that the men in the video who unwittingly held up the offensive sign have lost their jobs as a result of it.
Fiverr allows users to solicit freelance work from strangers across the internet, such as custom art of personalized video messages. As part of a video in which he made ridiculous requests from the site’s freelancers, PewDiePie used the service to request two Indian men to hold up an anti-Semitic sign, appearing shocked when they followed through with his request. In the video, PewDiePie says that he feels “partially responsible” for their actions, though many have strongly criticized his decision to both make the “joke” and to upload the results to his YouTube channel.
The two men who held up the sign have since revealed that Fiverr banned them from the site, thus bringing an end to their source of income. In a video uploaded to YouTube, one of the men apologizes for their actions, saying: “Please forgive us… we really didn’t know what [the sign] meant when we were making the video. I promise that we really did not know what “the Jews” means while making the video [sic].”
PewDiePie has since responded to this video, saying it “doesn’t seem fair” for Fiverr to ban them as a result of his video:
Fiverr seemingly responded to the controversy with the following:
.@Fiverr does not comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons.
— Fiverr (@fiverr) January 16, 2017
The negative reaction surrounding PewDiePie’s initial video led to him filming a response in which he condemned the media for taking the video “out of context.” The new video, titled ‘In my defense…’ sees PewDiePie accusing various media outlets of incorrectly criticizing him with “clickbait,” saying that he’s been accused of being a racist, anti-Semite and homophobic in recent months despite him being none of these things. He argues that the video was clearly intended to be a joke, and that he isn’t racist so therefore him paying the men to hold up the anti-Semitic sign isn’t racist, either.
PewDiePie paying the men to hold up the sign is an example of the “edgy” strain of humor that’s so prevalent on the internet. It’s the kind of “joke” that isn’t deemed to be funny because of its content, but because of how ludicrously offensive it is; it’s essentially Cards Against Humanity humor, except that it’s been broadcast to PewDiePie’s 52 million followers rather than a group of close friends sitting around a table. But despite PewDiePie’s insistence that the media is taking the situation out of context, it’s difficult to see what that context is supposed to be — that PewDiePie isn’t an anti-Semite, so therefore him paying two unwitting young men to hold up an anti-Semitic sign isn’t crossing a line?
The “Funny Guys” account that the young men posted from has still not been reinstated on Fiverr, and it’s uncertain if the company will allow them back on to the marketplace. Although PewDiePie is adamant that the reaction to his video is the media’s fault, they certainly aren’t the ones behind causing these two guys to break Fiverr’s terms of service and lose their jobs.