Politics has always been downstream from culture, but in recent years that proverbial stream has morphed into full-speed whitewater rapids.
National File reported last week on the controversy surrounding ultra-popular YouTube star Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg and both his offer and subsequent retraction of a $50,0000 donation to the Anti-Defamation League.
One week later, it seems clear that Kjellberg has unwittingly awakened a significant portion of his 100 million plus subscriber base to the dark history of the ADL.
The official ADL Twitter account, which has over 163,000 followers, has suffered a noticeable drop in engagements through likes and retweets over the past week.
Nearly every ADL post since the controversy has been “ratioed”–Twitter slang for a post that garners roughly the same amount or more of replies or retweets as it does likes. Getting ratioed is generally viewed on Twitter as a sign of great embarrassment.
Many Kjellberg fans have not forgotten nor forgiven the ADL for its CEO Jonathan Greenblatt’s smug celebration when Disney severed ties with Kjellberg and the YouTube show “Scare Pewdiepie” over false accusations of anti-semitism in 2017.
— Ethan Ralph (@TheRalphRetort) September 12, 2019
Other users mocked the ADL for its infamous assertion that cartoon meme Pepe the Frog is an anti-Semitic hate symbol.
— 5K (@NxhteLOL) September 12, 2019
The ADL’s reach on Twitter has become so paltry of late that one of its supporters reached out to Jonathan Greenblatt’s personal Twitter account to ask: “Why do so few people why do so few people like your tweets and fewer yet RT [sic]?”
The backlash is indicative of a significant cultural groundswell that bodes well for defenders of free speech.
Previously, left-wing propaganda organizations like the ADL were considered off-limits, untouchable because they could rain down accusations of anti-Semitism and Nazism upon anyone questioning their lack of ethics.
But Kjellberg caters to a new type of audience: younger, more internet-savvy, possibly apolitical, and zealous in their defense of free speech and free expression.
Hateful organizations like the ADL no longer hold sway over the minds of the masses, and we may well have Minecraft YouTubers to thank for that.