PewDiePie Apologizes For Making Fun of Deaf TikToker

"Had no clue she was deaf but kinda dumb of me to not realize."
By Savannah Moss
Image: @Noahglenncarter and @Scarlet_may.1

In a recent video by PewDiePie, he seemingly makes fun of a deaf Black woman using his dog, Maya. The creator, Scarlet May, is a deaf woman who wears long nails that often click as she signs in her videos. PewDiePie, after seeing a few seconds of the video, says he is “not listening to this” and imitates sign language using his dog’s paws and speaking in a different accent than his own, which some assumed was him mocking her deaf accent. The video was reposted to TikTok and Twitter with some calling out PewDiePie for making fun of a deaf creator.

But, some fans came to PewDiePie’s defense, saying he was referring to her long nails and was not making fun of her voice, just using a silly voice one might use when speaking for their dog. In the video, he does continue to reference her nails, saying “She has your crazy nails, Maya” and “are my nails distracting you guys?” But, since he was using his dog’s paws in the video, some confirmed this to be a blatant mockery of her sign language.

@scarlet_may.1

Replying to @anethepeach we all make mistakes hopefully he learns from this ๐Ÿ˜Š๐ŸคŸ๐Ÿฝ #fyp #foryou

โ™ฌ original sound – Scarlet May ๐Ÿฆ‹

After many people asked May to respond, she addresses it, saying she thought it was “very weird and unnecessary, but at the same time, I’m used to it.” She continues, noting she tries to normalize having long nails and signing and feels PewDiePie’s video put this effort “a million steps back.” She points out that if a hearing creator told the story but did not use sign language to communicate, the reaction would not have been the same.

One person said PewDiePie’s comments did not represent ableism, but instead racism, as they felt PewDiePie wanted to mock a Black woman. Others did not believe PewDiePie’s comments were anything other than a joke. PewDiePie, however, did remove this portion from his video and apologized in his YouTube comments. “Had no clue she was deaf but kinda dumb of me to not realize. Still watching through the clip I only poked fun of her long nails,” he says.

He continues, clearing up that the voice he did for his dog was not intended to mirror or mimic May’s, but “The voice I did for my dog is the same voice I’ve given her for years,” and making her paws move was not him trying to make fun of her sign language, but “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.”