KSI takes time out from social media after racial slur on Sidemen Sunday

by | Apr 3, 2023 | News

YouTube star KSI is taking a break from social media after making a racist slur during a ‘Sidemen Sunday’ video sketch. The incident took place during an online spoof of Channel 4’s iconic gameshow Countdown and caused an immediate social media backlash. This has subsequently been picked up by mainstream news outlets.

When it became clear he had overstepped the mark, KSI apologised via Twitter: “I wanna apologise for saying a racial slur in a recent Sidemen video. There’s no excuse, no matter the circumstances, I shouldn’t have said it and I’m sorry. I’ve always said to my audience that they shouldn’t worship me or put me on a pedestal because I’m human. I’m not perfect, I’m gonna mess up in life, and lately I’ve been messing up a lot. So I’ve decided I’m gonna just take a break from social media for a while.”

KSI’s fall from grace came just as The Sidemen were hitting new heights in terms of their online audience. Last week, the group’s management team at Arcade Media announced that the group had passed 5 billion views on YouTube.

Among those to call out KSI for his comment was teacher Mehreen Baig, who has her own fast-growing fanbase in social media. She said: “This is horrifically disappointing from KSI and his crew. So many of my students look up to these guys and they’re casually throwing around a word that has consistently been used to bully and attack south Asians. This isn’t comedy. What’s worse is that it will be swept under the carpet after minimal outrage because racism against brown people is so normalised.”

While the comment was made by KSI, the controversy has also embroiled The Sidemen, who currently have 18.3m subscribers on YouTube. The Countdown spoof involved other members of the group, who initially laughed at KSI’s comment.

Subsequently, the group issued a statement saying the slur was “unacceptable and inexcusable. The fact the incident was made light of on the show was wrong and compounded the hurt. We have reflected on this incident both collectively and individually and are truly ashamed that we let ourselves down.”

The Sidemen have numerous brand affiliations and are planning to roll out their franchise into several new areas. As yet, it is unclear whether the incident will adversely impact on their commercial ambitions. Recent partners have included Paramount, McDonald’s, Ellesse and fintech brand Revolut. KSI, real name Olajide William Olatunji, is reckoned to earn almost £3 million-a-year from his work on YouTube.

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