Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg hit a new milestone over the weekend, with the Swedish YouTuber becoming the first independent creator on the platform to attain 100 million subscribers.
“I don’t feel worthy, but I’m forever grateful,” Kjellberg said on Twitter.
Curiously, this achievement was commemorated by none other than YouTube the company, which in previous years made a concentrated effort to distance itself from the controversial video-maker.
In 2017, YouTube dropped Kjellberg from its Google Preferred program, its advertising platform for high-profile producers who want to work with big brands, and the social media platform also canceled Kjellberg’s Scare Pewdiepie show. These actions were taken in the wake of Kjellberg’s Fiverr stunt, in which he asked freelancers to hold up a sign that read “Death to All Jews” — and to his surprise, the workers did exactly that. That controversy, in combination like incidents where Kjellberg once said the n-word on a stream, seem to have pushed YouTube to give its biggest personality a cold shoulder.
To wit: In 2018, a year where one of YouTube’s defining moments saw Kjellberg in a battle against music label T-Series to be the largest channel on the platform, the video company excluded the blond star from its “year in review” promotion. Where Kjellberg made headlines left and right after mobilizing his fanbase to promote his channel in the real world, YouTube itself seemingly preferred to not even acknowledge the star. It didn’t help that while the community rallied around Kjellberg in an attempt to preserve YouTube’s culture of independent creators, the movement was partially tainted after the “subscribe to Pewdiepie” mantra was hijacked by mass shooters. Kjellberg went on to ask people to stop repeating the catchphrase, as it warped into something sinister rather than something playful.
But Kjellberg has put on a new act in 2019. Mostly, the YouTuber has been playing a ton of Minecraft, a popular game favored by advertisers as “brand friendly.” This pivot has allowed the YouTuber to start making good money on the platform once again, and also prompted him to apologize for previous stumbles. Kjellberg has also continued to use his fanbase to support charities for good causes. All of this is to say, Kjellberg now appears wholesome enough for YouTube to embrace him once more.
“With Minecraft, it’s just been everything, it’s just been all positive,” the YouTuber said in a recent update video. “The channel is getting more views that it’s ever gotten, everyone seems really happy and positive about it. I absolutely love recording it, and ad revenue is absolutely fantastic. It could not be better.”
“I feel like I’m finally earning what people think I’m making out of YouTube videos,” he added.
For a good while, the YouTuber — who initially exploded with Let’s Play gaming videos — avoided video games altogether, seemingly tired of the hobby. Kjellberg mostly favored commentary videos where he discussed internet drama, as well as “meme review” videos, where he riffs on fan submissions and jokes. Now that he’s come back to video games, Kjellberg says that he feels the channel has come “full circle.”
“Looking back, it’s been a rocky road,” he mused. “That’s almost why a lot of people appreciate the channel at this point. I appreciate everyone sticking through with me, throughout all the controversies …. looking back now, I kinda feel like, very stupid about it. A lot of it wasn’t worth it. Basically, I’m sorry for all the bad things I’ve done. I just want to play Minecraft, please.”
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