The alt-right is now knees deep in its latest off-the-wall conspiracy theory, with supporters of the far right-wing movement now believing that PewDiePie is attempting to convert kids to fascism.
Denizens of the alt-right’s various online forums have convinced themselves that PewDiePie is subliminally converting his followers into becoming anti-Semites, with him apparently inserting Nazi messages into his videos. PewDiePie attracted a ton of criticism earlier this month after he posted a video in which he paid two Indian men to hold up a sign reading “Death To All Jews,” using the online freelance service marketplace Fiverr to pull the ill-advised “prank.” Though PewDiePie has since said that the “joke” was taken “out of context” (which I debated here), the alt-right has taken it as literal confirmation that PewDiePie is really an anti-Semite and that he’s going to inspire millions of his young followers into becoming alt-right soldiers (a.k.a. people who sit on Reddit and grumble about Jews and feminists all day).
This belief has been discussed on the alt-right subreddit, with one of the most upvoted posts discussing how ‘PewDiePie’s latest video, which includes another tirade on Jews, is 14.88 minutes long.’ The video in question, titled ‘I’M BANNED..,’ sees PewDiePie criticizing the media’s reaction (including my own take) on his initial video, before reasserting that he “wasn’t serious” and that he felt guilty about the two men who lost their jobs as a result of the video. He then doubles down on the 4chan-esque, offensive meme humor he included in his initial video, making repeated references to Jews and, among other things, requesting that a Fiverr creator called Tyrone say the sentence “Hitler did nothing wrong” in a video.
You can watch the video below. Tyrone’s segment appears at around the 13-minute mark:
But despite PewDiePie’s insistence that his videos shouldn’t be taken seriously, members of the alt-right are doing just that, concluding that the hugely popular YouTuber is attempting to introduce his supposed far-right ideologies to his massive audience. In the aforementioned Reddit post, one commenter wrote: “Giving him 8-12 months before he goes full fash [fascist].” Another adds: “Can you imagine 50 million kids being indoctrinated daily?”
The belief among these alt-right followers is that his latest video’s length, which clocks in at 14:53, is a nod to the white supremacy encryption 1488. According to these tinfoil hat wearers, they know this because 53 divided by 60 (the number of seconds in a minute) is 0.88333333333 or 0.88 when rounded down to two decimal places, transforming 14:53 into 1488. This number stands for “The 14 Words,” coined by American Nazi Party founder George Lincoln Rockwell, who said: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” The 88 is a reference to the letter H being the eighth letter in the alphabet, standing for “Heil Hitler.” If you’re scratching your head, don’t worry; it doesn’t actually make any sense.
But it isn’t just alt-right Redditors who are convinced that PewDiePie is a member of their white nationalist gang. Neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer is also convinced that the YouTuber is a white supremacist, citing his references to Nazism as evidence. In a recent post (linked here for clarity, but obviously proceed with caution) a video in which PewDiePie “attempts to resurrect Adolf Hitler” (their words, not mine), the site writes: “A guy with 52 million YouTube subscribers is subtly pushing esoteric Hitlerist magic to his base under the guise of humor. This is for real. 2017 and PewDiePie is a leading neo-Nazi white supremacist.”
So it appears that PewDiePie’s ironically offensive sense of humor has bagged him an unironically racist cult following. Though PewDiePie has repeatedly insisted that his comments aren’t intended to be taken seriously, the alt-right has decided to overlook this in favor of insisting that he’s becoming a poster boy for their movement. Looks like this is already shaping up to be a particularly weird year.