After YouTube sensation Felix Kjellberg got dumped by both YouTube and Disney for making what appeared to be anti-Semitic* skits online, the Daily Stormer site has stepped into the fray to win new fans to its racist ideology.
Says a person knowledgeable in the meme subculture on February 15:
“It’s unknown how many new people will end up in the alt-right as a result of this, but this is undoubtedly going to result in many more people being exposed to their rhetoric and politics.
“The alt-right figureheads want numbers.
“Unknown what getting Pewdiepie’s followers will do other than result in numerous additional online communities joining in their rhetoric.”
Daily Stormer’s website has featured PewDiePie, the web name for Felix Kjellberg, in its title banner since January 23, around the time he produced some Nazi and anti-Semitic themed videos.
Now the Daily Stormer stands to benefit.
At one point the site was offline, possibly as some of PewDiePie’s millions of followers looked for a new home.
PewDiePie’s travails with corporations and Daily Stormer’s apparent embrace of his fans is significant because it echoes GamerGate, a seminal online culture war that helped polarize social attitudes of message board users in the years before the 2016 election.
GamerGate helped set the stage for the rise of the alt-right, which was instrumental in “memeing” Trump into the White House.
Before being dumped by YouTube, PewDiePie had more than 53 million subscribers.
Time will tell if this event sees the ranks of the alt-right and Trump’s online supporters grow. Many of the people on these boards don’t take politics particularly seriously, even as the weight of the interactions online helps influence discussions on other media.
One telling sign will be how many can be wooed into political views that support anti-globalism (read pro-Moscowism), which to date is where a lot of alt-right politics tend to lead.
*Anti-semitism. I make no claim as to how anti-Semitic that gags were. At least one Jewish web user appeared much more offended at the hard line adopted by corporations and the media than the content of the joke. But clearly, joking about killing Jews is no joke. So I’ll leave it at that.
Said a knowledgeable source: “It’s always uncertain how online subcultural interactions translate to offline action.”
What we do know is that this event could have implications for politics online.