Last month, PewDiePie, the world's most successful YouTube star, lost deals with Disney and YouTube after The Wall Street Journal reported on anti-Semitic jokes in his videos.
But PewDiePie, who has more than 54 million YouTube subscribers and made about $15 million in 2016, didn't go silent. Instead, after apologizing for a joke he said went too far, PewDiePie gave the middle finger to The Journal in an explosive video.
Since then, PewDiePie's subscriber count has increased, many YouTube stars have rallied around him, and he has said he's excited about the new opportunities he'll have as an independent creator.
This situation illustrates the complicated relationships among YouTube stars, their fans and established media brands like Disney. Since 2005, YouTube has become the de facto launchpad for the next generation of celebrities. These stars rack up millions of subscribers and have a direct relationship with fans.
From comedians to gamers to beauty vloggers, YouTubers have generally built their followings outside of the control of media giants, even if they are signing big deals with those companies. And there is power and independence in having that huge fan base.
To get a closer look into which stars rule YouTube, we looked at the SocialBlade rankings to see who had the most subscribers. We focused on independent YouTube stars, disregarding YouTube channels like mainstream music artists.
Here is the new generation of superstars.