By Sophie Diego

(Aneta Rebiszewski/Ryersonian)

When you aren’t fazed by another mass shooting on the news, but rather by the shooter telling his Facebook livestream to “subscribe to PewDiePie,” you start to question why this is the world we live in.

For seventeen minutes, the shooter shared a Facebook livestream that showed graphic content of himself readying his attack on a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The video of the shooting was quickly taken down and is now illegal to share online in New Zealand.

I didn’t watch the video, but after reading what happened I couldn’t believe what the shooter was saying live.

The shooter was telling others to subscribe to a famous YouTuber, PewDiePie. As someone who has watched him for years, I remember feeling confused and then angry.

“Subscribe to PewDiePie” was no longer an idiotic meme. In that moment, it became a phrase that encapsulated all of the insensitive things that PewDiePie has done in the past.

From the “death to all Jews” controversy, to him saying the n-word in a livestream and now this, it represented a joke going too far. So far in fact, that it was now a rallying cry for a mass murderer. The gunman found something relatable in PewDiePie, and that’s a problem.

PewDiePie, whose real name is Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, is a Swedish YouTuber, known mostly for his gaming content, video game commentary, comedic shows and occasional vlogs.

Over his career on YouTube, I’ve seen his behavior change into something that fancied dark humor and edgy jokes. Fans seem to appreciate this humour, as he has the most subscribed YouTube channel with over 92 million subscribers. That’s a lot of people to potentially impact or influence, intentionally or not.

I don’t believe that he is truly anti-semitic or racist, but PewDiePie’s incessant need to shock viewers with his Nazi jokes are so prevalent within his videos that you start to question if there’s a degree of truth underlying his comments.

PewDiePie doesn’t recognize the consequences of his political ‘humour.’ He has become so desensitized from reality as a YouTuber. For those who can’t pick up on what is a joke and what isn’t, it becomes concerning when one of his ‘fans’ decides to take PewDiePie’s words literally.

Since the New Zealand shooting, PewDiePie has issued a Twitter statement saying that he feels “absolutely sickened having [his name] uttered by [the shooter].” However, after this incident, he still continues to make controversial jokes on his channel.

As a society we need to hold YouTubers accountable for what they say and promote. Whether they intend it as a joke, some people definitely take it seriously — and in this case, at the cost of others’ lives.

This is a joint byline. Ryersonian staff are responsible for the news website edited and produced by final-year undergraduate and graduate journalism students at Ryerson University. It features all the content from the weekly campus newspaper, The Ryersonian, and distributes news and online multimedia, including video newscasts from RyersonianTV. Ryersonian.ca also provides videos, images, and other interactive material in partnership with the School of Journalism.

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