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[00:00:11]

My name is Fred.

[00:00:18]

Now become the biggest star. Hey, man, congrats on your journalism. Oh, my God, our kids are listening to Elvis. We need to keep fighting back.

[00:00:27]

Gunmen stormed in, subscribed to us, as you did last night. It's been a long, long time. How long? Probably two years, maybe. That's interesting. Yeah, why?

[00:00:46]

All right. So Felix decides to sit down and talk with you for his first interview since the whole Wall Street Journal controversy.

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Yeah, and I was curious, first of all, like, just why he was doing this, like why he was sitting down with someone from the mainstream media after so long.

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It seemed like because, you know, I've been like I've been asking for like two years. I mean, it's like here we are.

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And also, like after following his career for so long and just seeing everything that's happened, I just wanted to know what he made of it all.

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I was actually like been preparing for this, going back and looking at some of your old you're old, like old old old videos. Yeah. Sort of Minecraft days.

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Do you remember feeling sort of happy during that time? Like, was that a good time in your life? Yeah, I think so. I think things are going pretty well.

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Things were going great. Much more than I ever expected. Definitely.

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And then like 2015 and 2016, I think there is sort of this larger cultural thing happening, like the line between the Internet and the the like real world was starting to break down. And back then people started paying more attention to what's happening on YouTube.

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And do you feel like I sort of remember from that time that things were starting to get a little edgier, like there was sort of more incentives to try out and stuff?

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I think YouTube at that time was at a place where no one really knew where the limit was. And I think that's why it almost became. Yeah, a lot of channels is pushing it as far as possible because there was no restrictions at the time, I think. And I think also my channel went through this.

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I didn't only wanting to be associated with kid humor, even though edgy humor is a lot of childish, but I think it's more stepping up to teen humor. Do you feel like you recognized that there was a risk in getting sort of more into that space that there could be a backlash?

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I think I was really not focused on that at all. In retrospect, I was pretty and I started word irresponsible about it. I don't think I really looked at too much of the consequences.

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Do you ever like getting pushed back for too long for life that it was like before the Journal article? Well, I kind of wish I had something. Clearly I didn't, but fans were listening into it and they I think. Yeah, everyone, it's when you're in this phase where people understand that it's a joke. You're in this area where everyone is on the same page.

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It's not really no, I don't remember having that being.

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And was that how you sort of viewed like that period is just people joking and being sort of stuff that might look serious if you look back at it today, at the time, it was just all joking.

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Yes, I think so. Was there ever something that you, like, stopped yourself because you were like, oh, that's too edgy?

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Well, definitely that infamous sign, as Felix and I were talking, it became clear pretty quickly that, like the things that he was doing in his videos, he's kind of like edgy, experimental things.

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The goal isn't to purposely push too much or makes people feel bad.

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And I including this fibre video with the death toll you sign, they all felt pretty low risk to him.

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And how do you draw that line? Like how did you decide what was too edgy and what was just edgy enough?

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And that's a good question.

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Just kind of like I mean, anything that would I mean, the way for me and my editors work is that we kind of go uncensored and then in the edit will definitely cut out most of the jokes or whatever. If we recognize that someone might get offended or hurt by it, then there's no reason to intentionally put it in. I think that's the way we looked at it. We're going to go to The Wall Street Journal. We're almost there.

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When did you know this was going to be a thing as it was happening?

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It went really fast. I think just two days before I heard about that whole thing, and it was so it seemed bizarre. I was like, well, I couldn't possibly understand why it was a thing. Even I didn't think it was going to be a big deal either. What was that day like for you? Where were you?

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What do you think it was on Valentine's Day? Me and my girlfriend had rented this little cottage. And then, I mean, I can laugh about it now, I guess.

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But it was it was crazy, extremely stressful.

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I didn't know what was going to happen. So you just spent the day on, like, calls with people? I spent the day being in this little cottage outside with no Internet. And I told myself, OK, I should not check what is happening on Twitter right now. And then I go on Twitter and then there's like J.K. Rowling calling me a fascist. And I'm like, how is this happening?

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This is crazy. And when you sort of we're trying to figure out how to respond to that.

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Were you torn between, like, on one hand, like, I probably should apologize for this. Yeah. Yeah. And I did apologize in the video, but also wanting to be like I also wanted to set the record straight, at least give my side of the story.

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And, you know, it was crazy because Wall Street Journal, they also came to my house to say, we want to help you, like, give you a full story again. It just felt kind of crazy. So after the story after story published, they came back. Yeah. And you said I said, well, I'll tell my story on my channel. And that's kind of what I was I was there a moment where I thought, like, what if what if they have a point?

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I got too edgy and like there were there moments of. Yeah, of course. Definitely it wouldn't have happened if they didn't push it too far, obviously. But I think the whole. Thing also that happened with Wall Street Journal, I mean, people really strongly want to support me. People felt like it was unjust, what happened, and they wanted to support the channel even more for that. So I really felt like, well, maybe media doesn't want to write nice things about me, but at least I have the support from so many people that it felt like it doesn't matter to them.

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I don't really care if that's the case. I think it was after the Wall Street Journal thing, I sort of got labeled as a bad person and then that sort of. Line of word just kept going, I think, is there one sort of piece of criticism that stands out that you sort of wrestled with more than others? I think the concern association would be all right. And politics in general has been really frustrating because that.

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That whole world feels so far away from me, so and that's frustrating, I think any label. You know, it seems pretty common to just label throw labels around. Oh, days he's there and be called things that you don't think you are at all. What are your politics?

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I'm just curious. Like, how do you identify what issues do you are you passionate about beyond YouTube?

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I think I'm more apolitical than anything, but I'm probably somewhere in between. I don't know. I mean, I don't really feel passionate about politics. I know that's really lame, dribbly. I wish maybe I was, but I am not that interested.

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Are there any politicians who excite, you know, like anywhere I could not name one?

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I don't know, because, you know, there's this whole community of, like conspiracy theorists and people who like to think that you're secretly hiding. I know. Sounds like conspiracy theories is the right word for it.

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I mean, I was looking at I have this whole log of, like, messages from these discarded servers for these guys. And they're saying stuff like, you know, disconcerts. Oh, yes. Like putrefy, little red pill, all this millennial and GenZE subscriber's. It will be glorious. I get the feeling the period is far more red pill than he lets on allai. Stuff like that. Like like what does that.

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This is conspiracy theory mumbo jumbo. I think it's really cringing at all people trying. It's annoying as well.

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People trying to have me as some sort of symbol that doesn't apply. This is Sarah Koenig, host of the serial podcast. I want to tell you about our new show, Nice White Parents. It's reported by Chana Joffe. Walt, who's made some of the best, most thought provoking, most emotional radio stories I've ever heard back in 2015.

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Hannah wanted to find out what would happen inside this one public school in her neighborhood during a sudden influx of white students into a school that it barely had any white students before and then not satisfied that she fully understood what she was seeing. She went all the way back to the founding of the school in the 1960s and then fought again up to the present day. And eventually Hannah realized she could put a name to the unspoken force that kept getting in the way of making the school better.

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White parents, I've been waiting so long to tell people about this show and now I can finally say it. Go listen to nice white parents. Nice White Parents is made by Zero Productions, a New York Times company. You can find it wherever you get your podcasts.

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Let's talk about strategy, I like when you started, did you have any idea that it would become this whole meme that would like I think you know the answer.

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You know, I thought it would be a fun joke for like two weeks maybe, Max, and now it's like six months later. Were there parts of it that you thought were funny, like the printer hack or like? Yeah, I think a lot of it was really funny people, you know, putting up posters, putting up banners and the printer was kind of pushing it. But it was so pretty funny. You can no one was hurt by it, at least.

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So, Kevin, the timing of all this is that you met Felix just weeks after the shooting at Christchurch. Right.

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And not only was this his first interview with the mainstream media in years, but it was also the first time that anyone had really gotten to ask him about the attack.

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Walk me through that day and like where you were when you heard that this had happened. Yeah, I mean, it was like 4:00 in the morning. I rarely checked my phone at that time, but I had got a bunch of messages and I was like barely conscious. And then obviously I saw it happen and just this hitting my stomach. And it's just awful to hear about that someone would go so far. What were some of the messages you got at 4:00 a.m.?

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It was a big mix of fuck cutie pie. Now he's really gone too far. We need to shut him down and just is awful like and even people saying, you know, I don't think he's responsible, but bah bah bah bah bah. Even though it's like it really, really hurts. And it was a fucked up day. It was a fucked up week. It's been a fucked up month. Yeah. I mean I, I feel bad even like oh it's so bad for me that he used my name and it's like people really affected by it but.

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It felt like I was dragged into, again, this whole smear of politics. Do you feel like the responsibility that you have? Because, you know, so many of your fans are young and are so passionate and whatever, like, do you feel like you've sort of gained and you, I guess, responsibility or ability to, like, shape the way those people see the world? Yeah, I mean, saying is a lot of responsibility. What do you think the responsibility is?

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Well, I don't know exactly what I would say, but. You know, having such a large audience, obviously, it is a responsibility. Yeah, I mean, I stress out about publishing stuff in The New York Times and we have four million subscribers. You only have four million.

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That's true.

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One fallout in one piece of fallout from this Wall Street Journal thing and then some of the other stuff.

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And then this. There's nothing like there are a lot of people who who don't follow you but who hear your name and think, oh, that guy's problem or he's a neo-Nazi on the news. All right.

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Right. Like, how does that affect you? It is obviously tiresome to be associated with something that you're not.

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It's a lot more than I think I signed up for, and I don't want it to seem like I'm completely innocent either.

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And I've just done nothing wrong and I'm just been targeted. And I don't think that's the case either. But it does feel pretty unfair. I know also how people's minds kind of shift to certain things, and I hope that within the next maybe year or two, people will have their mind changed. That's usually how long it takes for people because this will change. Yeah, yeah, I think so.

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I don't know what's what's your message to those people? If you could, like, shout something from the rooftops and everyone have everyone hear it, just click on the latest video out of it and it's literally just me laughing. It means I don't really know.

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So it's literally just like watching my stuff and you'll get it have a lot of people are not going to watch stuff. That's the problem. They're getting the headlines. Yeah.

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I mean, do you feel like you can do anything to set the record straight at this point, or have you done pretty much all you can do? I can definitely set the record straight. Yeah. What would that look like? I don't know yet. I think it's step by step. I don't think anyone is going to change your mind over one thing and you need to keep pointing it out. I think hopefully conversations like this helps as well.

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I see it as a build block, kind of.

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I am sort of curious about like your relationship with the media and sort of mean sort of a consistent theme of the past couple of years for you is that you feel like so the media has bad intentions when it comes to covering you.

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Then there's publications that consistently get things wrong, like how have the past couple of years shaped or changed your views on the media?

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Well, a lot of times me calling out is when things have been said that I felt like was either one sided or flipped in a way that wasn't really fair. And I think, you know. I should at least defend myself if those things happen. It's very frustrating to see certain things published about you that you feel like that is not what it's true by me at all.

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I mean, the hostility toward the media on not just your channel, but like the Subrata. And like, I just look through that stuff and I'm like, dear God, these people are never going to believe anything. Like it's like these are people I don't think reflexively distrust everything we do.

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I mean, I think it's because people who watch me know who I am and then they see me in this article that it's so different. Obviously, they're not going to they feel like it's unfair and it's not correct. I don't really know. Where where the line is drawn of. Who controls that, you know? Some, but I think. It's getting a bit tiring as well. I'm not really interested in having some sort of I don't like the media and sort of.

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Approach to things, that's not my intention. I think in. Yeah, I hope at least I'm grown a little bit to see past that, even if an article isn't perfect and doesn't have to be a whole thing about it. And let's be clear.

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We've made a lot of videos about the media. I think my I know it's going to be like your primary editor sometimes. Just put that there. Yeah.

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I don't want to seem like I'm oh, I'm sitting down with the media nuts, and now I'm going to be like Conly one of the over like I mean, that is a little bit Hadfield's.

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That's that. I mean, I don't want to be too hostile, but I also feel like I genuinely like my opinion about a lot of it has changed over the years. I think going through all these controversies constantly. And obviously when I feel the need to defend myself, I do. But I also think I'm getting to a point where I don't think it's going anywhere. And Kevin, what did you leave this interview thinking about, especially around this question of why he finally talked with you?

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I mean, obviously, like he doesn't need me to get a message out to the public, like he has millions more subscribers than The New York Times, but by talking to me when he did, it almost felt like he was proposing a truce.

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He was saying that, like, that era of my career is over and I'm going to change. Hello, I wanted to talk seriously and honestly for a moment about my thoughts on what's been going on for the past couple of months, and hopefully you can get a better answer.

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And a few days after our interview, something happened that I don't think anyone would have predicted. The Christchurch shooter said, subscribe to Feliks posted a new video.

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I think it's time to end the subscribe to PDP movement, or me, where he directly asked his fans to end the subscribe to PDP meme.

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To have my name associated with something so unspeakably vile has affected me in more ways than I let Chaum. I just didn't want to address it right away and I didn't want to give the terrorists any more attention. I didn't want to make it about me because I don't think it has anything to do with me.

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Not long after that, nine years ago, I uploaded my first video on to YouTube. This is what that video looked like.

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Felix hit a hundred million subscribers. I won't bore you with every step of the way of the journey. It's it's been long. It had its ups and downs. And to celebrate, I made a lot of mistakes on the way, but I've grown.

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He reflected on how he got there. And I feel like I'm finally coming to terms with the responsibility I have as a creator. About one hundred million subs too late.

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But you know, but the channel has done a lot of good too, and also pledged to give a fifty thousand dollar donation to the Anti Defamation League, which is one of the organizations that had criticized him for making Hitler Nazi jokes. We did it.

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I want to thank all the people I work with over the past couple of years. But most importantly, I want to thank the props.

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And yet again, it sparked a controversy.

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So I just wanted to interrupt this video because I need to make an announcement. Did you guys see the video I made where I celebrated one hundred million subscribers?

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It was a video, but this time it wasn't the mainstream media coming after him.

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I made the mistake of taking a charity that I was advised instead of picking a charity that I'm personally passionate about, which is one hundred percent my fault. It was the Internet, the whole Internet just didn't believe in like, why is he donating to his charity? Look at his face full of conspiracy mode.

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Some of his fans claimed that the Anti Defamation League was too partisan. Websites and comment sections filled up with all these conspiracy theories saying like cutie pie is being blackmailed into this donation.

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I'm sorry for all the confusion and I'm sorry for messing this up. That's what I do.

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So he apologized and took back his fifty thousand dollar pledge. Good one. Here we go, guys. Historical moment, my first video ever was a Minecraft video.

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And in the midst of all this, nearly a decade after it first brought him attention.

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Guy, after all these years, Felix uploaded a video of himself playing Minecraft.

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Is that a horse? That's a freaking horse. Oh, my God. There's horses in Minecraft. Can I write it up like it's a tiny horse? Hello. This is amazing. Have you ever wondered why we go to war or why you never seem to be able to get out of debt, why there is poverty, division and crime? What if I told you there was a reason for it all? What if I told you it was done on purpose?

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What if I told you that those who were corrupting the world, poisoning our food and igniting conflict were themselves about to be permanently eradicated from the earth? You might think that an idealistic fantasy. Well, let me tell you a story.