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What just happened? Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, has released a video calling for an end to the “subscribe to PewDiePie” meme, which was referenced by the shooters in Christchurch, New Zealand, and at a California synagogue.
Both PewDiePie and T-Series, a Bollywood studio in India, have been battling it out to become the most-subscribed channel on YouTube. The ‘subscribe’ meme began earlier this year as a way of keeping PewDiePie on top, but while Kjellberg says it started positively, things soon turned ugly.
The first negative association came when a World War II memorial in New York was defaced with “subscribe to PewDiePie” graffiti. PewDiePie said when you have over 90 million subscribers, “you’re bound to get a few degenerates.”
On March 15, a man in New Zealand shot and killed 50 people and injured 50 more. He livestreamed the atrocity, and during the first few minutes said: “Remember, lads: subscribe to Pewdiepie.”
PewDiePie tweeted at the time that he was “sickened” to know his name was mentioned. In the new video, he says he never discussed the incident further out of respect for the victims and their families.
"I just didn't want to address it right away, and I didn't want to give the terrorist more attention. I didn't want to make it about me, because I don't think it has anything to do with me. To put it plainly, I didn't want hate to win," he said. "But it's clear to me now the 'subscribe to PewDiePie' movement should have ended then."
There was also a reference to PewDiePie in the manifesto of the gunman who opened fire inside a Southern California synagogue Saturday.
PewDiePie mentioned the two diss tracks he made that were aimed at T-series, which were banned by the Delhi High Court. “This was all made to be fun, but it’s clearly not fun anymore. It’s clearly gone too far. And out of respect for that, I’m going to keep the videos blocked.”
“This movement started out of love and support, so let’s end it with that.”