PewDiePie faces backlash for mocking deaf woman's TikTok video

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Photo credit: Karwai Tang - Getty Images
Photo credit: Karwai Tang - Getty Images

YouTube star PewDiePie (real name Felix Kjellberg) is facing backlash online after a deaf TikToker, Scarlet May, called him out after he seemingly mocked her for using sign language in a 'Story Time' video that she posted. In a video titled 'My Dog Cringes at TikToks', Felix runs through a series of TikToks from various accounts and reacts to those he deems as 'cringe', along with his dog, Maya. He has since apologised for what he describes as an 'honest mistake'.

The video of Scarlet's that he chose to react to shows the TikToker, who is famed for her elaborate nail designs and use of sign language, recounting a funny anecdote about a drive-thru.

In his own upload, Felix said, "I'm not listening to this," before addressing his dog and saying, "Look, she has your crazy nails, Maya!"

He then appears to - badly - imitate American Sign Language by moving his dog's paws around and says, "Sorry, are my nails distracting you guys?"

In response to being used as material in a PewDiePie video, Scarlet shared her own reaction and told her followers, "How do I feel? I feel like it was very weird, very unnecessary, but at the same time I'm not surprised, I'm used to it."

She added that signing is a big "issue in the deaf community" and something that she's keen normalise as much as possible. "Then a big creator comes on here and puts us a million steps back, so it's very frustrating."

Scarlet continued, "Maybe he didn't know I was doing sign language, maybe he didn't like my long nails, that's okay, a lot of people don't [...] If that was the case, you should've been like 'ohh I don't like the nails' and just skipped the video." She also noted in a comment that after he was called out for mocking her, Felix removed her clip from his video, rather than saying sorry.

Underneath Scarlet's TikTok, thousands were quick to air their disappointment in Felix's actions (while adding that they weren't surprised – given his past wrongdoings which have seen him use a racial slur during a livestream and be accused of anti-Semitic language).

"The second I saw it happened I knew he was going to take the immature route" one person commented, while another said, "It’s the fact that instead of apologizing he just edited it out 💀".

A third wrote, "I’m confused why the hell wouldn’t it be okay to sign with nails on? If anything, signing seems like a reason TO do your nails??" and a fourth remarked, "You handled that so perfectly. He’s always been like this and I’m not surprised he did this. He needs to start owning up and apologize".

PewDiePie later posted an apology video, claiming he didn't realise that Scarlet is deaf and was using sign language.

"Hey, just to clear a few things up: I edited out the clip with the girl that has the long nails. Had no clue she was deaf, but kinda dumb of me to not realise... Still, watching through the clip I only poked fun of her long nails.

"The voice I did for my dog is the same voice I’ve given her for years. (edit: ..and making my dog’s paws move was poking at people always dancing or doing some move on tiktok, which is an ongoing theme in the whole video). Anyway honest mistake, my bad."

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