Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, otherwise known as PewDiePie, has announced in a new video that the long-running “subscribe to PewDiePie” meme should now end. If you haven’t been paying attention over the past year or so, the world’s most popular YouTube star (Felix) has been engaged in a long-running internet feud with the Indian music label, T-Series, over YouTube subscriber supremacy.
The results have led to many humorous online and real-life memes, including the hacking of thousands of printers to display a simple message encouraging people to subscribe to the Swedish YouTuber’s channel.
The meme was repeated throughout the world, being playfully reproduced on billboards, t-shirts, sports events and even aeroplane banners. Although the meme has been mostly jovial and light-hearted, it had unintended repercussions when it was hijacked and used by malicious trolls and, even worse, referenced by the recent New Zealand shooter. Here’s why Felix is now speaking out.
Although the subscribe meme seems like an innocuous enough statement, it fuelled a number of surprisingly negative events after snowballing beyond the YouTuber’s control. Internet trolls and misguided fans have been repeating the slogan in increasingly inappropriate settings.
Although some of these can be comical, others appeared deeply misconceived. This apparently reached its peak when the words were found scrawled upon and defacing the World War II Memorial in Cadman Plaza, Brooklyn (New York). Although PewDiePie was able to simply disavow this erroneous action, things took an even worse turn when a gunman recorded a message enlisting others to “subscribe to PewDiePie” shortly before entering a Christchurch mosque and filming himself shooting innocent victims. This is a far cry from the meme’s original intent to simply keep a channel at the number one YouTube spot over its competitor, T-Series.
Felix Kjellberg was quick to disavow the attack in New Zealand on Twitter. He has not, however, broached the subject of the meme until recently.
In the new video, Felix described openly his desire for the meme to end. Noting that he didn’t want to “make it about me, because I don’t think it has anything to do with me”, Felix now sees that the meme should have stopped with the attack. Where he had expected the meme to last several weeks, it unexpectedly continued for six plus months.
Not wanting “hate to win”, PewDiePie now implores his followers to stop using and spreading the meme. Later in the video, Felix also notes the way in which the media has latched onto the meme as a racial, political or nationalist statement – something Felix outright denies. Seemingly taking a new moral standpoint, the YouTuber further states that, while he appreciates the new number of subscribers as a personal milestone achievement, it should never be about competition with another channel. With the turn of this new leaf, will Felix continue his famously playful internet persona or continue to take a more outspoken moral standpoint in his videos?
Watch the video