The gaming side of YouTube has been in the news quite a lot recently, what with its new service YouTube Gaming being announced back in August 2015. But, unfortunately, there have also been a fair amount of bad reasons – such as big name video game publishers/developers calling in the copyright clowns on Lets Play videos and getting them taken down from the site for legal reasons. Ouch.
However, more pressing and cultural issues seem to be bubbling underneath all the copyright battles and legal mumbo-jumbo, especially as it’s coming from the YouTubers themselves – or should we say, from their mouths.
It’s fair to assume that everyone on the planet loves shouting at video games from time to time, and a huge percentage of viral videos on the web seem to be on that type of content alone. From Leroy Jenkins to smashing up your PC with a Samurai sword, apparently rage sells on YouTube.
So what happens when YouTube gaming personalities are making names for themselves by being rage-fueled potty mouths, ready to fly off the handle over difficult Super Mario Maker levels? Well we don’t have to wait too long to find out as big YouTube names KSI and even Pewdiepie have had their reputation dragged through the dirt over controversial things they have either said or done.
So what can be done? Is it time for the Gods of YouTube to look down upon these foul gamers to try and clean up their acts? Or must we simply allow the Gaming section of YouTube to run riot without the same content restrictions as, well, everyone else?
Let’s take a closer look at two of the most prominent examples of content controversy and why we all need to consider where we stand on the issue of trash talking and harmful language that is often rephrased as ‘playful banter’.
If you didn’t know already, KSI has built up somewhat of a reputation about himself and the type YouTuber he wants to be, especially following THAT video from the Eurogamer convention in which he ‘asks’ to motorboat a woman before calling out others for ‘not having any boobs’. Seriously low move there.
Long time fans of KSI will recognise him for his FIFA Pack opening videos and various thumbnails of him wearing a snapback, but now we’re reaching the end of 2015 he is becoming more recognisable for his problematic attitudes towards the world around him. Let’s take a look at our first example…
Entitled ‘RACIST JOKES AT THE PUBLIC’, you can already predict where this video is going to take us. On the cover, it’s just another harmless video of a funny guy telling jokes to random people in the street. However, only seconds into the video it becomes clear that we’re not in for an easy ride.
Most of his ‘jokes’ surround the concept of KSI having been personally molested by his uncle as well as flippant and unwarranted use of racial slurs to try and entice smiles or laughter out the people he has cornered. The only problem is that if these people laugh, KSI is then given the ‘opportunity’ to aggressively call them out on being racist, even though he spends most of the video screaming like a banshee at his own jokes.
This encounter follows a slur of other problematic videos in which he seems more than happy to promote the objectification of women – even though the woman in question seems to be an object in the form of sponsored content from, none other than, BabeStation.
Whilst KSI is hoping you’ll keep watching the video for his witty FIFA banter, unfortunately the punchline of this video seems to be the naked woman next to him. Her lack of clothes is never far from the topic of conversation as he then proceeds to act up having an erection, not only making the viewers uncomfortable but surely his co-host as well. Bottom line is: this woman is there to be a target for KSI and his audiences’ sexual arousal. This is reinforced by KSI himself and the company BabeStation for ‘supplying’ her for the collaboration.
This video in particular is boggling to long-time YouTube fanatics such as all of us in the Unicorns office. We all genuinely can’t believe that this NSFW video is allowed to remain on YouTube, let alone become a regular feature on KSI’s channel – is this political correctness gone mad or are YouTube going soft on gaming channels?
Either on the sofa or doing his ‘man on the street tells jokes’ type of videos, his offensive attitudes have been noted by multiple media outlets and are starting to lead to questions surrounding his ability to get around all of the content filters YouTube so often promote.
A really interesting reflection of KSI’s method of scooting around ban-hammers can be seen through his book, I Am A Bellend, released earlier this year. Oddly, it presents itself as a childish and silly book aimed at his younger fans, but a closer inspection sees pages covered in Tinder Tips and advice on sexting – another example of KSI using child friendly content wrapped about subconsciously explicit material. Will he never be stopped?
Even the mightiest can trip up from time to time. Pewdiepie, whilst adored for his charming Swedish accent and minute scream threshold, has come under fire quite heavily in the past for making throwaway rape and molestation jokes – tut tut Pewds.
Thankfully, Felix has since responded to the criticism by stating that the comments aren’t aimed at anyone in particular nor are they intended to hurt people, but that he has reconsidered his attitudes and will stop any further reference to such things.
Around the same time, Pewdiepie uploaded a video entitled ‘IT’S R*PING TIME’ which was later removed and addressed in an apology video later down the line. The game play footage and commentary in the original video mocked the topic of rape as a humorous matter, suitable enough to be turned into song. Again though, Poods responded to fans backlash and apologised for his behaviour.
Here lies the struggle – are Pewdiepie’s fans okay with policing their fave and making sure that he stays mature about his audience, unlike KSI’s audience? Or are KSI’s followers self-realised fans of this problematic behaviour and thus seek its appearance in their subscription boxes? Either way, the question comes down to whether YouTube is actively involved with the matter or if it’s something for content creators to manage on their own.
One of the positives of YouTube is its stance on free content for everyone either to consume or create, but what happens when children are able to access the likes of KSI or Pewdiepie, whose brash behaviour will inextricably influence fans offline? Even more so, what happens if this explicit content is vital to their brand?
To put it another way, what would happen if the likes of Dan and Phil started posting videos with completely naked women that relied heavily on the mocking of other people’s ethnicities and cultures? Would YouTube stop and notice then?
I, personally, am not an advocate for the dated opinion that ‘video games make us all more violent’, but it cannot be avoided that it’s just funnier to watch someone completely blow their lid over a video game than to see them react calmly.
At the end of the day, with Pewdiepie being the most subscribed person on YouTube, he will come to represent the YouTube gaming movement to those people outside of the loop – so what he says will become crucial in reflecting the wants and needs of the YouTube community. Just look at the outcry following his decision to ban the comment section on his videos.
As the poster boy for YouTube gaming, should Felix tone down his language and casual inference towards problematic topics for the sake of humour in order to make the vast majority of viewers happy, or should he stick to the brand he has crafted for the last 5 years and hope he doesn’t stand on anymore sensitive toes?
Furthermore, should KSI be allowed to continue his controversial take on video games and race because that is how his channel sky-rocketed to popularity, or does YouTube need to reconsider the type of channels they allow to broadcast and start to implement tougher controls upon those individuals who cross the line?
Please let us know your opinion below!