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Jun. 1st, 2018 @ 11:26 am “Fun” spaces
Current Mood: disappointeddisappointed
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One thing that I noticed with most streamers with a large audience that I watch (mainly CohhCarnage, Sacriel and P4wnyhof) is that they have a rule to not engage with “politics” on their channel, because they want their stream to be a “fun space” that we can get away from all of the stuff that’s happening outside of our door. And I get that — you’re providing entertainment, you don’t want to set off a flame-war in your chat. And for professional streamers, your income is also dependent on the continued support from your community: every month, your subscribers can decide to take their support elsewhere. So you don’t want to be too controversial, I guess.
But refusing to talk about politics is a political stance in itself. It normalises (and therefore reinforces) the status quo. And that makes it automatically less inclusive, because the current state of things is far from balanced. That is extra problematic when you look at the streamer demographics: most are white males in their 30’s — a most privileged group. It makes sense: streaming equipment doesn’t come cheap, and you have to be in a place with a great internet connection too. And in the case of people trying to make it as a professional streamer, you also need a support network — you need time to grow your community, during which period you won’t earn any income off of it. Only people who are already nicely set up can do so.

So they’re all in their bubble of privilege, and if they are aware of the plight of others, they make a point of not making a point out of it — because it’s not “fun”. That reasoning is also used as a weapon to exclude others. “I don’t want gays in my entertainment, I’m just here to have fun, not to get all political!” is one of the things that were commented when Paizo introduced homosexual NPCs in some of their modules. In other words, this commenter doesn’t want non-heterosexual people to be in that space and enjoy the same things they enjoy. It’s used to exclude people, and if you want to discuss this (or even mention it), you are accused of bringing in “politics” into a “fun space” — it could even get you banned!
This is also how people who have suffered abuse are punished by bringing it up: they are harshing the mellow of the “fun space”! But if you have an abuser in your space, then that is the problem, not that someone is pointing it out. Alas, it seems that not everyone has realised that fact.
I’ve had a shitty white dude (somehow, the shitty people in this context are always white and always male) shout at me because, while he was ok with a world literally created by the dreams of dragons, having a female mayor for a farming village was somehow “unrealistic”. If you’re ok with fantasy but somehow not ok with gender equality, then realism is not the problem there…

When someone mentioned the repeal of the 8th amendment in Ireland, CohhCarnage told his audience that he definitely had an opinion, but that he was not going to share it on stream, because it is so “political”. And sure enough, abortion is of course a hot-button issue for a lot of people. Do you really want an 11.000-person flamewar in your chat?
On the other hand, he could have just answered the question that was posed to him. Because in his channel, he is in a position of power, and he had a chance to speak out to his viewers, and thereby move hearts and minds into the right direction. And he didn’t take that opportunity. None of those big-name streamers do.

That disappoints me. It really does. I think a position of privilege gives you the moral obligation to try and be more inclusive. It is certainly something I keep in mind when deciding who and how to support the streamers whose content I enjoy.

Now, don’t get me wrong: none of these streamers will tolerate bigotry on their channels. Racial slurs, homophobia and other things that bring other people down will get you banned in their channels. I’m not saying they are bad people — they are not. It’s just that they actively dodge the chance to make a positive difference.
Luckily, there are also streamers that are explicitly inclusive — but their audience is a lot smaller. Take for instance AdamKoebel: he is explicitly queer and advocates for minorities at every chance he gets. But he has 40.000 followers, and CohhCarnage 962.000… There is a definite difference in impact.

(OK, this has turned into more of a partially-coherent rant than I had intended, but this is all that I have to say at the moment.)

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.
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net zombie!
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From:tabular_rasa
Date:June 1st, 2018 12:39 pm (UTC)
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For ages society taught us that talking politics was bad manners, provocative, rude, etc. This was a social norm that helped preserve the status quo. It's not surprising to me it's taking some effort to shake that norm and recognize that silence on the issues is to be complicit on one level.

There's definitely an extra layer when it comes to things like entertainers and people whose opinions affect their views, ratings, and ultimately income, too. If your channel is specifically about reviewing games, or personal style, or something most people watch as entertainment/fluff, it can seem "off topic" to bring up politics, and the proof is in the pudding it can have a detrimental effect on your success. But there are definitely times it's relevant to address, and I have the most respect for those who are willing to take the risk and speak on what they stand for, even if the world at large may be divisive on them. I guess the best we can do as consumers of content is to be conscious in those we support as well and praise and reward them for the work that they do.
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From:fub
Date:June 2nd, 2018 02:40 pm (UTC)
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I mean, those channels are not about politics: it's about a guy playing games, commenting on their/the gameplay and interacting with chat. Viewers are there to see that. But sometimes it comes up -- someone mentions it, or there is a parallel between the game and the real world, and that makes it topical. And when that happens, those streamers completely refuse to engage with the political topic, even though they'll happily engage with other topics. For instance, Sacriel is playing a shooting game and sipping tea, and that sets off a discussion of tea versus coffee, cream versus black etcetera, and that's completely fine and fun.
And yes, perhaps people get so mad that they unsubscribe -- and that could be a problem, though a single sub doesn't bring in that much that they'd make all the difference. And if a group of people leave your community because of your political views -- isn't that just part of building the kind of community you want to have?
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From:kitzune
Date:June 1st, 2018 01:23 pm (UTC)
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...a shitty white dude (somehow, the shitty people in this context are always white and always male)

Okay but this statement is so true, though. Every single time someone feels the need to play devil's advocate or say, "well this experience didn't happen to me so it doesn't exist" or just jumps in to say "not all guys"... it's always a cis het white guy. Not all cis het white guys are assholes but it seems like all the assholes are cis het white guys.

I'm definitely not big-name, but I do have a bit of a reputation and a following to the point where I feel like I have a bit of responsibility for the content and views I put out. It makes things like being vocal about my Jewish background and me being ace and gay important because especially Jewish and ace are not things I readily see in the circles I travel, making me feel invisible a lot of the time. I know there are others like me, and if they can see someone like them and know they're not alone, I feel good.

By being openly gay (and Jewish to a certain extent) I feel like that's good enough in a lot of ways when it comes to political views. I personally don't like pushing any sort of agenda on the people who follow me; for me, putting out positive (ish, I'm so salty) content is important because that's the type of content I want to see. I don't see a problem with creating safe spaces for people who sometimes need breaks from how horrible the world is.

This issue, especially for abortion, is not black and white. As you said, abortion is one of those things where people get violent about it. If your paycheck is reliant on followers, and you're not a big name corporation, then you would want to be more cautious about losing followers.

Maybe the reason this guy has lower followers is because of his content? I'm not saying being explicit about your views is bad, but just as having constant hetero shoved in my face if all I want is gaming (which is why I really dislike when streamers start including their SO in streams...), I can see how having constant queer/politics would be a turn off for some. It goes both ways.
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From:fub
Date:June 4th, 2018 07:43 am (UTC)
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Of course, if you are such a minority, then it is important to 'show yourself' so that others can see themselves reflected in you -- representation matters. Just make sure you are shielded from any abuse that might be flung at you as a result.
What irks me is that people with a platform, people who are in a position of privilege, refuse to use their power to move society in a positive direction by not engaging with 'political' subjects. That's different.

This issue, especially for abortion, is not black and white. As you said, abortion is one of those things where people get violent about it.
Well, if I were in their shoes, I would have made a statement like: "Women's rights are human rights. The human right to bodily integrity is very important to me. I think that anything that restricts people's bodily integrity is wrong, and I'm glad to see the 8th amendment being repealed." And then let my mods sort it out.

If your paycheck is reliant on followers, and you're not a big name corporation, then you would want to be more cautious about losing followers.
That is true -- but these streamers are so big that they could lose half of their subs and still make enough to support them.

Maybe the reason this guy has lower followers is because of his content?
Probably -- Adam is doing lots of RPG streams, and while those are popular, they're not as popular as today's big shooting game.
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From:nucleosides
Date:June 1st, 2018 02:29 pm (UTC)
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I've at least learned not to talk about politics locally because I live in the Bible belt and, well, as a liberal/leftist... yeah. :P

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From:fub
Date:June 4th, 2018 07:23 am (UTC)
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Of course, I'm not saying you should get into huge arguments with everyone around you all the time! Doing that is probably a bad idea.
What I was advocating for is that people use their platforms to build the kind of community they want, and not shy away from giving their views.
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From:ashmedai
Date:June 1st, 2018 04:48 pm (UTC)
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I think a position of privilege gives you the moral obligation to try and be more inclusive.

That's very true! I don't know what a stream is or what goes on there, but surely there's a way to nip flame wars in the bud?
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From:fub
Date:June 2nd, 2018 02:46 pm (UTC)
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Yup. If you have thousands of viewers in chat, you need a good moderating team -- and those are certainly in place for these three that I mentioned.
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