YouTube seems to be swirling in a toilet bowl of controversy. Only after just recovering from the ever buzzed about “adpocalypse,” and Nazi-scandal with their arguably headline star Pewdiepie finally coming to an ostensible close, the star has found his way into hot water once more.
While streaming popular battle-royale video game Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds Pewdiepie did the unconscionable: he uttered the n-word as an exclamation in response to in-game frustration. He immediately pivoted, saying he meant to use the word a**hole instead, but the moment sent shock waves across the internet and generated hundreds of articles and responses.
Most articles argue along a common theme. They sought to pin Pewdiepie as a racist, anti-semitic, and figurehead that represents all of YouTube. It often appears as though they are seeking to defend themselves as traditional news sources begin to falter through smearing PewDiePie. However, content creators are utilizing YouTube with wild success, creating independent news networks that provide honest glimpses into reality without the bureaucratic overhead.
And given his media perception, and wrong-doings, Pewdiepie is everything but a bigot. (If that wasn’t made clear enough by his well-stated and thoughtful apology.) He is a gamer. It is clear to everyone on the platform, and with most who are fluent in current internet culture, that Pewdiepie will at times make outlandish statements or jokes, in an effort to be a comedian. And it is understandable that when he isn’t at a microphone and on a stage, that it is difficult for the “outside” to accurately assess what this all means. Yet, even true comedians aren’t safe in our day, with the likes of Dave Chappelle and Jerry Seinfeld having to cower from media slander and public anger.
Yet, as a comedian, and more specifically as a gamer, Pewdiepie is only serving to scratch the surface on much larger issues in gaming culture. What one may call internet subculture is giving light to actual bigotry and hatred, and the inherent anonymity of the web gives users the perceived opportunity to spew negative thoughts that are frowned upon by society at large. Especially in these cases though, they are spoken-down upon for good reason. This liberal use of language shows an ignorance to the history that we come from. As a Canadian, I cannot effectively speak at length of the discrimination that African-Americans experience, but I am fully informed with how Canadians have mis-handled Aboriginal affairs. Yet, even Canadians still have an egotistical superiority when comparing themselves with Americans, particularly with respect to social issues. We must take strides to curb these actions and show them as they truly are. As a fifteen year-old male gamer, I am well aware of what actually happens. I am not a Huffington Post writer whose objective is to berate gaming; instead, I’m encouraging honest dialogue about what we witness, as in my opinion it is these underlying social issues that allow hate to brew and cause such horrible incidents across the world, including Canada’s very own mosque-shooting that left six innocent men and women dead.
As gamers, take responsibility and own what you say and do online, and others will follow.