See updates below.
[Original story 6/27/2020]
Itâs been a weird week for the video game community. And I mean weirder than a normal week, which is usually already pretty strange.
Things kicked off with some startling accusations about Destiny 2 streamer SayNoToRage which quickly overflowed into a budding #MeToo movement that, within just a few days, has seen numerous streamers and video game developers fall from grace, including the director of Assassinâs Creed: Valhalla and other Ubisoft executives.
Twitch released a statement so generic itâs honestly not worth printing but Iâll do it anyways because we must do our journalistic duty even if giant corporations canât be bothered with even the mildest scrap of transparency.
Here it is:
âAs is our process, we take appropriate action when we have evidence that a streamer has acted in violation of our Community Guidelines or Terms of Service. These apply to all streamers regardless of status or prominence in the community.â
Great, how noble. Though, truth be told, Twitch does not have a particularly sterling reputation in this regard.
Most of what we know so far comes from some few with inside sources like eSports journalist Rod Breslau (whose work you should absolutely follow). Heâs tweeted that the reason for the ban is not DMCA related and that his sources have told him the reason but heâs not comfortable sharing it publicly due to the sensitivity of the subject:
Beyond this, mumâs the word.
But now Dr. Disrespect himself has spoken up, sending out a public tweet on the Twitch ban:
âTwitch has not notified me on the specific reason behind their decisionâ¦ Firm handshakes to all for the support during this difficult time,â writes Beahm.
I have some issues with this. First and foremost, it makes no sense. There are two big reasons why it makes no sense and probably several other smaller reasons.
Reason #1 â Why wait so long to tweet this very brief statement? If Twitch banned me, and I was a prominent streamer, and they didnât tell me why . . . I would be on Twitter in a flash saying so. I wouldnât let all this mystery and gossip go wild online without at the very least saying âHey I have no idea whatâs going on right now and Twitch wonât tell me.â Beahm waited a day before tweeting anything. Maybe there are extenuating circumstances for thisâhe was camping in some remote wilderness, perhapsâbut as of right now, it makes no sense.
Reason #2 â This statement only reveals one data pointâthat Twitch hasnât told Beahm why he was banned. It leaves out some other big factors, such as whether or not Dr. Disrespect is aware of the reason himself. It stands to reason that whatever happened, he knows. It seems incredibly unlikely, given Reason #1, that he is unaware and completely in the dark about the reasons for the ban whether or not Twitch communicated this to him directly. If sources are telling journalists like Breslau whatâs going on, surely the doctor himself is aware.
Unless . . . something even worse has happened and Twitch and the handful of people who know whatâs going on arenât allowed to tell Beahm anything. That conjures up some very bad scenarios which I wonât delve into hereâitâs not polite to speculate on something of this nature, after all. But itâs certainly strange, and Dr. Disrespectâs statement only furthers the confusion and dread weâre all feeling over this.
I would like more transparency from all involved, quite frankly. All this opacity and hush hush nonsense does is fuel speculation and rumor and nobody deserves that. The truth will out, as they say. It always does. May as well rip off the band-aid and get it over with. The fact that Twitch hasnât even told Beahm the reasons (assuming thatâs true) is absolutely absurd. Itâs certainly no way to treat one of your biggest starsâeven a star Iâm not personally a fan of. Itâs very, um, disrespectful.
Hopefully we get to the bottom of this soon.
Itâs been interesting to see the reaction to this post online. Some people seem to agree that itâs all rather fishy. Others have accused me ofâwell, Iâm not quite sure what.
Writing a terrible, lousy no-good article that is somehow attacking Dr. Disrespect or, alternatively, that Iâm some crazy Doc fan (the âfilled with dreadâ line was apparently taken by some to be very literal as opposed to tongue-in-cheek. Everything is lost in translation).
Others have accused me of masking an opinion piece as straight reportingâbut my blog is almost entirely opinion pieces. I rarely report straight news. Iâm a critic and a think-piece guy. I donât believe I drifted into idle speculation and I certainly havenât leveled any accusations or posited any theories. Iâve merely said that things donât add up and this whole business is somewhat unsettling. Itâs hard not to have your mind drift to very bad things when we just donât know, well, anything and everyone who does know something wonât comment publicly about it because itâs so âsensitive.â
We have yet to hear anything substantial out of either Dr. Disrespect or Twitch, either, with no new statements coming out of either camp. This may be because Twitch simply doesnât share information when issuing a permanent ban according to Breslau:
âfood for thought,â Breslau tweeted Sunday. âTwitch does not issue specific reasons to streamers for permanent bans. MethodJosh was banned following a report of sexual assault and Twitch has never commented publicly or privately. Josh & Ice Poseidon were told âOther TOS violationsâ.â
Meanwhile, thereâs a big conspiracy making the rounds about this new Brime streaming service that streamers Ninja, Shroud and Dr. Disrespect were apparently going to move to together. The theory goes that somehow Twitch caught wind of Doc trying to poach streamers to move over to Brime and thatâs why heâs been banned.
I donât think this theory holds much water for a whole host of reasons, and you should read Paul Tassiâs breakdown of why it really doesnât make sense (and has no verifiable sources) right here.
So itâs been several days now and beyond Dr. Disrespectâs tweet above, weâve heard not a single new detail on this story. Thatâs kind of surprising in its own right. I thought for sure that by end-of-day Monday there would be more details about thisârumors, leaks, something. And yet . . . all quiet on the Western front.
Now that the Brime story has been pretty much debunked, there are two emerging theories for what exactly is going on, though neither is anything like a sure thing.
Theory #1 is that this is something criminal in nature, and that perhaps even the FBI is somehow involved, though what the crime is supposed to be is anybodyâs guess. It would explain why everyone who apparently knows anything is remaining so hush-hush because that would, indeed, be very âsensitive.â
On the other hand, this is exactly the kind of scenario that I canât imagine staying quiet for more than a day or two tops. Once a secret is shared, itâs no longer a secret, after all. And something as juicy as this would almost certainly be leaked to the press. Somebody with loose lips would talk and weâd have a whirlwind of gossip at this point. So this Very Bad Scenario now seems much less likely to me than it did the other dayâwhich is, I suppose, a good thing.
Theory #2 is that Twitch is simply cracking down on what they perceive as toxicity on the site. The streaming service hasnât exactly emerged from recent controversy looking particularly good, and itâs possible that theyâre simply taking swift action to rid the site of as many âtoxicâ figures as possible.
While Dr. Disrespect hasnât been caught up in any of the recent #MeToo allegations, he has embroiled himself in other controversiesânamely, spouting off conspiracy theories about 5G towers and the coronavirus and hawking ideas from known conspiracy theorist David Icke.
I would not be surprised if Twitch decided a high-profile ban on someone pushing these kinds of nutty ideas would send a strong message and thatâs all there is to it. But the fact is, as my colleague Dave Thier argues, we may never know the whole story.
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