In a video posted today, Pewdiepie asked his fans to stop using the popular “Subscribe To Pewdiepie” slogan, citing events like the Christchurch shooting, where a shooter yelled the slogan before opening firing on Muslims worshipping in New Zealand.
“I think it’s time to end the ‘subscribe to Pewdiepie’ movement, or meme,” Pewdiepie says in the video. He goes on to say that, following the Christchurch shooting, he came to believe, “It’s clear to me the ‘subscribe to Pewdiepie’ movement should have ended then.”
The meme started earlier this year as a way to keep Pewdiepie’s channel as the most subscribed channel on YouTube as another popular YouTuber, T-Series, began to overtake his channel. Pewdiepie says the movement started out positively. His video shows footage of YouTube creators making videos and people buying billboards, playing music, having parades, and doing cheerleading routines in support of his channel.
While he says he was initially moved by these gestures, now he believes the slogan is too closely linked to terrible acts of violence and hate.
Originally Pewdiepie believed the movement and the meme would only last “just a couple of days or maybe a week” and was surprised by the amount of support it received and continued to receive over the last few months.
However, as the meme has continued, it led to some horrendous acts. Pewdiepie mentions an example from earlier this year when a WW2 monument was defaced with graffiti that mentioned the meme.
Pewdiepie states in the video he believes when you have an audience of “over 90 million people, you’re bound to get a few degenerates.” He hoped this graffiti incident would be the end of these more hateful acts inspired by his meme.
“I didn’t want hateful acts to overpower all these amazing things people were doing, all these cool and positive things,” he says.
On March 15, a young man shot and killed 50 people and injured 50 more at local mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. The shooter streamed himself on Facebook and was heard yelling “Subscribe to Pewdiepie!” before he began firing at people.
Later that day Pewdiepie tweeted out a message on Twitter, which seems to have since been deleted, though Forbes has a copy of the tweet.
Just heard news of the devastating reports from New Zealand Christchurch. I feel absolutely sickened having my name uttered by this person. My heart and thoughts go out to the victims, families and everyone affected by this tragedy. - Pewdiepie, March 15 2019
Beyond this tweet, Pewdiepie was mostly silent on the shooting. In the video, he claims that his name being referenced in the shooting “affected me in more ways than I’ve let show” and says he wanted to take his time to respond. He also didn’t want to make the shooting about himself, he says, or “let hate win.”
In the video, Pewdiepie says he disagrees with some who believe that he is racist or that the meme was about racism. The popular YouTuber has faced multiple controversies involving actions with racist overtones, such as paying two men via the freelancer website Fiverr to hold up a sign reading “Death to all Jews” and using the n-word on a stream in 2017. He later apologised for these incidents.
“Some of the media,” he says in today’s video, have made the meme about “race or politics or nationality, and I don’t agree with that at all and I want that to stop...This negative rhetoric is something I don’t agree with at all. To make it perfectly clear, no I’m not racist, no I don’t support any form of racist comments or hate toward anyone.”
“This movement started out of love and support,” he concludes, “so let’s end it with that.”