Maybe, just maybe PewDiePie saying arguably the most horrific racial slur on a gaming livestream to an audience of tens of thousands is actually a good thing. Yip, this half-black guy actually just said that. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m writing this several days after he said it and I was, like most people, rightfully horrified hearing him casually drop and “N” bomb during a livestream. I quite like Pewdiepie, he has some entertaining content and to become as successful as he has done by predominantly making content on Youtube then that deserves a huge amount of respect. But after recent events, it’s fair to say he’s also lost a lot of that respect and I’m sure a lot of people feel the same.
If you’ve been living under the rock for the past couple of days then let me fill you in. Felix Kjellberg aka PewDiePie who is Youtube’s biggest personality with 57+ million subscribers was doing a livestream of him playing a game called PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and ended up calling someone a “what a f****** n*****”. You can watch the clip below as proof as to how casually he says it.
Anybody who’s ever gamed online has experienced a huge level of frustration. If you can hand-on-heart say you’ve not conceded a late goal on Fifa and let out every single swear word you can think of possible then you’re a liar. However, I can firmly say that a racial slur has never entered my mind, let alone slipped out my mouth. But I hear it, all the time online and I’m sure I’m not alone in hearing that. No one even knows that I am mixed-race but the slur still gets used to an extent that it’s almost trivialised online as to just another run-of-the-mill insult. It’s not and should not be. It’s still a racial slur that carries a lot of weight. For generations, my ancestors, like many others were treated as sub-humans and that was the primary word that was used when they were referred to. I’m sure there are words that Jewish people associate with the holocaust that is just a complete no-go area or there are certain words you don’t use in relation to Irish people and their injustices that they’ve experienced along with various parts of the Asian community that have words that you just don’t go near. That is the same way to people with a black heritage look at the “n” word and relate that to a time where they were treated the way they were. You just don’t go there.
There will no doubt be someone who will say “aww but black people say it all the time in their rap songs” and that is true but that’s based on each individual. If people want to use a certain word that has been used negatively against them and their ancestors for generations and try and used it as a term of empowerment then that’s fine, let them do them. I know for certain, my 60-year-old, Trinidad & Tobagonian dad who has experienced that word in a let’s just say “less than PC world” is completely against all sense of that word. A quick
There will no doubt be someone who will say “aww but black people say it all the time in their rap songs” and that is true but that’s based on each individual. If people want to use a certain word that has been used negatively against them and their ancestors for generations and try and used it as a term of empowerment then that’s fine, let them do them. I know for certain, my 60-year-old, Trinidad & Tobagonian dad who has experienced that word in a let’s just say “less than PC world” is completely against all sense of that word. A quick glance at the Charlottesville activities recently proves that there are a lot of people who still use that word to infer that they are superior to those who are black. Racism isn’t as bad as it used to be, that much is obvious but it is far from gone and I can guarantee there are a lot of people who use that word who would say it with a lot of hatred in their heart.
Yesterday, Pewdiepie went and uploaded an apology video to his Youtube channel and referred to it as the “worst word” he could possibly think of. He knows, he messed up and saying that is not okay. The key part for me was how he acknowledged how a vast amount of the gaming community interact online and how he knows that the language used is “immature and stupid” and using that word isn’t okay, regardless of the situation. It’s not just racial slurs that get used, it’s generally the darkest insults or “jokes” you could imagine that get used, which can range from rape to cancer – it can be incredibly grim at times. Now, the biggest gaming Youtuber on the planet has messed up, has publically acknowledged that use of language is unacceptable to be used and also will surely feel the huge repercussions of using such language.
Many people look up to PewDiePie and anybody else after using such a slur would have next to no hope for a career. However, somehow he will survive this and go on and continue to grow his channel and continue to be as successful. If we can take a few things from all of this, is that:
- A light has been shone right on the gaming community and the casual use of certain words that are, well, erm, far from casual should not be tolerated. We all could have gone on pretending such things don’t exist or we can actually discuss a very real issue.
- Even though he used the word, hearing him actually condemn the use of using such a word by someone as influential as himself will make a huge difference. Gamers worship him like an idol, content creators aspire to be him. He’s a hugely influential figure and even though he used the word, him condemning the use of it will surely make a bigger difference than any other media outlet/celebrity saying “don’t say bad things online”.
- The fallout from this will no doubt affect PewDiePie financially, his reputation the same way when he lost his Disney contract. However, he is so popular and rich he should be able to survive this but lesser gamers, YouTubers or anyone else there this should read as a huge warning. Not even the likes of Mr. Youtube himself is immune from using such a word and getting away scot-free and there is very high chance anyone else would not get away with using such a word in such a way. Would you risk your career and everything you have over saying a word to a random person online? Is it really worth it? You have a lot of words to choose from, think before you speak.
I don’t believe PewDiePie is racist, believes that he is superior to black people or he has any hatred towards black people. As he said, he’s “an idiot” but that should not be a legitimate excuse for using that language because it is still a word that shouldn’t be used whether as a joke or a casual insult. There are people out there who use that word with hatred and would literally kill people for being black and that would no doubt be their go-to word. It truly would be a shame if no lessons were learned from this sorry saga.