There's Literally No Excuse For Pewdiepie's 'N-Word' Clip

Yesterday, Felix "Pewdiepie" Kjellberg - the millionaire YouTube personality known for making a spate of racially-charged "joke" videos - let the gaming community down once again. Unfortunately, this time it cannot be excused as a clumsy attempt at satire.

While engaging in a live stream of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG), Kjellberg used a racial slur to express his frustration at another player. Here is the exact moment that will surely have an immediate impact on his career.

Over the past 24 hours, footage of Kjellberg calling a Battlegrounds player the "n-word" has spread like wildfire across message boards and social media.

"What a fucking n-" Kjellberg said, while killing an opponent. "I didn't mean that in a bad [way]," he later mumbles, while laughing.

Needless to say, this has not gone down well with most people in the gaming community, with some developers already calling for copyright strikes against any content that uses their games.

Personally, I don't feel remotely torn about this situation. It's not something that should be excused or laughed off. Using racist epithets in anger is never okay, particularly for a public figure who has a fanbase in the tens of millions.

I know it sounds like a cliche, but you really do have certain responsibilities when you're the most popular user on YouTube. It's important to note that his channel receives in the region of 300 million views per month. That's a lot of people to casually share racist insults with.

And it is racist - Kjellberg may be a comedian, but this was clearly not said in the context of a joke. (See also: Michael Richards.)

There will be counter arguments, of course. "People are overacting/jealous", "this has always been his shtick", "it's just a word", "black people say it too", "whatever happened to freedom of speech?", et cetera, et cetera. You can probably read multiple variations of the above on Twitter right now - I've been too depressed to look.

If you're a Pewdiepie fan, all I ask is that you think long and hard before launching your own online rebuttals and defences. This wasn't a private moment erroneously picked up on a hot mic (which would be bad enough.) Instead, Kjellberg consciously used the insult during a public stream watched by thousands.

It will be very interesting to see how significant the fallout will be from this incident. We're not hoping to see Kjellberg's career ruined forever, but there has to be repercussions of some kind. Normalising this behaviour is simply not on. We all need to be better than this.


Comments

    Yeah he shouldn't have said the word on a live stream. However in these situations everyone just forgets or ignores the fact the significance of using the word is different outside the American context.
    It might still be a wrong thing to say, but it is not the same context as an American with American history of the word. People are just being intellectually dishonest when they pretend it is.

      Hmmm, so what you are trying to suggest is that he used the word in an endearing and colloquial manner that was intended to create a bond between himself and the other player as he is not an American citizen? Not as a 'heat of the moment' insult?

      The interesting thing to consider is not what the word means to others, or where it's origins lie, but what it means to him, Pewdiepie. He has formed a behavioural trope that puts the N word in his vocabulary as an impulsive expletive. To him the word is an insult, a word that he is so comfortable with using that when his mind is focussed on a task as complex as gaming, streaming and commentating he can unconsciously use it.

      To my point of ignoring the words origins, I mean that simply in the context of how we as people absorb and retain information. The most literary and interested among us may have a leg to stand on to argue that the word has classically moved from being a common phrase with no racist connotations, to one used to emphatically describe skin colour, to a word used as a way of separating and psychologically subjugating a race of people. But for the ruling majority this word means only the later, and it has seen a worrying increase in its use as of late thanks to the ease of which people can share their views and opinions online.

      In short, it is:
      1. The context that PewDiePie chose to use the word.
      2. He has a global audience.
      3. That it was an unconscious slip of the tongue.
      4. What that words most recent meaning and impact are (it was not just the American colonies that made this so - It originated in Spain as a means of labelling those with dark skin, and was widely used by the English before the American colonies, before it crossed into hate speech for many facist regimes over the subsequent 100+ years since then).

      Our collective cultural understanding of how this word has predominately been used, and continues to be used, is what makes this an inexcusable situation.

        Sorry not all the fault is on him, when majority of hit songs that are played through radio are using the N word, when video games, movies etc are using the word, of course people are going to say the word thinking that its hip/cool, however exactly like u mentioned, his use of the word was unintentional while also him being on the call with his close friend playing might have taken his attention away from the fact that there are many people watching. All these said I personally believed he should have apologized for what he said because it was the worst case in the scenarios use of the word,
        1. Hard er
        2. Bad tone
        And now he has made an apology video which is pretty convincing.

      I have no problem with this ending his "career". In my place of work if I angrily called someone at my workplace a "F-----G N----R" I would get fired. And all the apologists on here saying it was the heat of the moment, he didn't know what "N----R" means, gamers say it all the time, it's just a word etc etc need to take off their white sheets and take a good hard look in the mirror.

    The irony is that posting about it gets him what he wants - more clicks and more money...

      I think he doesn't really care about that

    I find it somewhat odd that there's a huge deal about his use of the N word (as there should be) but nobody cares about the 20 f-bombs he drops in that 1 minute clip at all.

      Why do you assume there should be a big deal about it? I would argue the opposite, that it shouldn't be a big deal, that it should be treated like another f-bomb. He made a noise come out of his mouth that some people don't like, he didn't strangle a baby. If you don't raise a fuss over other sounds why do you treat this one so differently, either words a significant part of the population finds extremely offensive are OK to say or they are not. You do not get to pick and choose. F-bombs by the dozen are fine and even expected in many contexts, but the 'n-word' being NEVER allowed is hypocritical to say the least.

      I find the taboo surrounding this word ridiculous and personally I use it when discussing issues such as this rather than the childish 'n-word' or other substitute (obviously not here due to moderation). Not using it and treating it differently to other words only adds to its power and impact. If as a society we could knock back some of the emotion surrounding it I think we would be in a much better place.

    I don't really know this guy - but if he drops it once in public, how many times would he drop it in private?

      Why the in the world do you care about the language he uses in his private?

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