YouTuber PewDiePie apologises after backlash for ‘mocking’ deaf TikToker

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 (TikTok @scarlet_may.1/YouTube @pewdiepie)
(TikTok @scarlet_may.1/YouTube @pewdiepie)

PewDiePie has apologised after he appeared to mock a deaf TikTok user in a new video.

The YouTuber, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, posted an 11-minute video to the platform titled “My Dog Cringes at TikToks”, which sees Kjellberg react to TikTok videos he thinks are “cringe”.

One of the videos included in the selection was from deaf TikToker Scarlet May, who has 6.2m followers on the social media app. May’s videos are often posted in both spoken English and American Sign Language.

The video that Kjellberg reacted to saw May recount a story that took place at a fast-food drive through. She used sign language in the video and wore long acrylic nails.

On watching, Kjellberg cut the clip short and said: “I’m not listening to this. Look, she has your crazy nails, Maya!,” referring to his dog.

He then proceeded to wave around his dogs paws, appearing to imitate May, and said: “Sorry, are my nails distracting you guys?”

The comments drew backlash, with one TikTok user writing: “So a deaf woman signing is considered TikTok cringe?”

Another person added: “So why is nobody talking about pewdiepie making fun of a deaf Black woman?”

Kjellberg has since issue an apology for the video, writing on his YouTube channel: “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.”

Kjellberg ended the apology with a peace hand sign emoji.

Before he edited her clip out, May reacted to the video on Wednesday (27 July) on her TikTok channel.


Replying to @anethepeach we all make mistakes hopefully he learns from this 😊🤟🏽 #fyp #foryou

♬ original sound - Scarlet May 🦋

She said Kjellberg’s video was “very weird and very unnecessary” but that she “wasn’t surprised”.

“I’m used to it,” May continued. “I’ve been trying to normalise and put it out that using nails while signing is normal, it’s OK. But then a big creator comes on here and puts us, like, a million steps back.”

Kjellberg has previously been criticised after he used a racial slur during a live stream video in 2017.

The Independent has contacted Kjellberg’s representatives for comment.

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