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'Apex Legends' players petition to ban PewDiePie

PewDiePie is famous for courting controversy on his YouTube channel and elsewhere on the internet. And some players in the Apex Legends community have decided they'd rather not have him around.

A petition on the website Change.org is currently asking for fans of Apex Legends to show their support by demanding PewDiePie be banned from the game. The creator of the petition, a person by the name of Gabe V., fears that any association with PewDiePie, who sometimes posts highly questionable content and engages in divisive stunts on his YouTube channel, could potentially harm Apex Legends in the long run.

"PewDiePie has RUINED EVERYTHING HE TOUCHES!" wrote Gabe V. on his Change.org page. "Keep him away from a great game like Apex Legends!"

At press time, the petition is about 3/5 of the way to making its 500 signature goal.

PewDiePie has come under increased scrutiny following a deadly mass shooting that occurred in New Zealand earlier this month, where two Christchurch mosques were attacked by a lone Australian gunman who espoused anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim views. That shooter took the lives of 50 worshipers and bystanders, streaming the entire attack on Facebook while telling viewers, "Remember, lads, subscribe to PewDiePie."

PewDiePie, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, took to Twitter to distance himself from the shooter and his actions.

"Just heard news of the devastating reports from New Zealand Christchurch," Kjellberg said. "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."

Markiplier, another famous creator, responded to PewDiePie to offer support, saying, "You had nothing to do with this. Full stop. The shooter, who should be forgotten to the ass-end of history, is only trying to create division. Anyone that believes or spreads the message that you were associated with this in any way is doing exactly what the shooter wants."

Still, some — like the creator and the signers of the Change.org petition — believe PewDiePie has been toeing the line of racism for quite some time, and is now doing whatever platform he's on or game he plays a disservice.

PewDiePie has a rap sheet a mile long when it comes to controversial incidents involving race and hate speech. In one instance, he paid individuals from the website Fiverr to hold up a sign that said "DEATH TO ALL JEWS," capturing the moment on video and later publishing it. That caused many to take a closer look at his past videos, and some found that PewDiePie had either made anti-Semitic jokes in them or included some kind of Nazi imagery. PewDiePie later removed some of those videos and apologized.

But it didn't stop there. Years later, PewDiePie was caught on video using a racial slur toward another player in PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. This led Sean Vanaman, a co-founder at games studio Campo Santo, to call PewDiePie "worse than a closeted racist." Vanaman also encouraged game developers to copyright strike PewDiePie's YouTube channel if he uploaded videos containing footage of their games, stating that he would do so for Firewatch in the future.

And that's still not all. One could point to the time when PewDiePie made a sexist remark toward a female Twitch streamer. Or the time PewDiePie posted a joke meme about Demi Lovato, a singer who has been public about her struggles with drug addition. Or a video PewDiePie posted that, for reasons unknown, used footage of a vehicular homicide that took place during a 2017 white supremacists march in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Some of PewDiePie's actions have cost him financially, like when Disney cut ties with the creator following the discovery of Nazi references in some of his videos. But some companies still see the YouTuber as a hot commodity — G FUEL, for instance, recently signed PewDiePie to a sponsorship deal.

It's clear, however, that some in the Apex Legends community are all out of chances for Felix Kjellberg. It's not even clear that PewDiePie has all that much to do with the game — in fact, we've struggled to find video of him even playing it. But perhaps fans are just being proactive.

Games seem to come and go in the battle royale space, and if Apex Legends wants to stick around, staying away from controversial figures like PewDiePie might be in its best interest.