See updates below.
[Original story 6/27/2020]
It’s 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 Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla and other Ubisoft executives.
Twitch released a statement so generic it’s honestly not worth printing but I’ll do it anyways because we must do our journalistic duty even if giant corporations can’t be bothered with even the mildest scrap of transparency.
Here it is:
“As 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.”
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). He’s tweeted that the reason for the ban is not DMCA related and that his sources have told him the reason but he’s not comfortable sharing it publicly due to the sensitivity of the subject:
Beyond this, mum’s the word.
But now Dr. Disrespect himself has spoken up, sending out a public tweet on the Twitch ban:
“Twitch has not notified me on the specific reason behind their decision… Firm handshakes to all for the support during this difficult time,” 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 — Why wait so long to tweet this very brief statement? If Twitch banned me, and I was a prominent streamer, and they didn’t tell me why . . . I would be on Twitter in a flash saying so. I wouldn’t let all this mystery and gossip go wild online without at the very least saying “Hey I have no idea what’s going on right now and Twitch won’t tell me.” Beahm waited a day before tweeting anything. Maybe there are extenuating circumstances for this—he was camping in some remote wilderness, perhaps—but as of right now, it makes no sense.
Reason #2 — This statement only reveals one data point—that Twitch hasn’t 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 what’s going on, surely the doctor himself is aware.
Unless . . . something even worse has happened and Twitch and the handful of people who know what’s going on aren’t allowed to tell Beahm anything. That conjures up some very bad scenarios which I won’t delve into here—it’s not polite to speculate on something of this nature, after all. But it’s certainly strange, and Dr. Disrespect’s statement only furthers the confusion and dread we’re 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 hasn’t even told Beahm the reasons (assuming that’s true) is absolutely absurd. It’s certainly no way to treat one of your biggest stars—even a star I’m not personally a fan of. It’s very, um, disrespectful.
Hopefully we get to the bottom of this soon.
It’s been interesting to see the reaction to this post online. Some people seem to agree that it’s all rather fishy. Others have accused me of—well, I’m not quite sure what.
Writing a terrible, lousy no-good article that is somehow attacking Dr. Disrespect or, alternatively, that I’m some crazy Doc fan (the “filled with dread” 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 reporting—but my blog is almost entirely opinion pieces. I rarely report straight news. I’m a critic and a think-piece guy. I don’t believe I drifted into idle speculation and I certainly haven’t leveled any accusations or posited any theories. I’ve merely said that things don’t add up and this whole business is somewhat unsettling. It’s hard not to have your mind drift to very bad things when we just don’t know, well, anything and everyone who does know something won’t comment publicly about it because it’s so “sensitive.”
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 doesn’t share information when issuing a permanent ban according to Breslau:
“food for thought,” Breslau tweeted Sunday. “Twitch 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 ‘Other TOS violations’.”
Meanwhile, there’s 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 that’s why he’s been banned.
I don’t think this theory holds much water for a whole host of reasons, and you should read Paul Tassi’s breakdown of why it really doesn’t make sense (and has no verifiable sources) right here.
So it’s been several days now and beyond Dr. Disrespect’s tweet above, we’ve heard not a single new detail on this story. That’s kind of surprising in its own right. I thought for sure that by end-of-day Monday there would be more details about this—rumors, 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 anybody’s guess. It would explain why everyone who apparently knows anything is remaining so hush-hush because that would, indeed, be very “sensitive.”
On the other hand, this is exactly the kind of scenario that I can’t imagine staying quiet for more than a day or two tops. Once a secret is shared, it’s 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 we’d 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 day—which 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 hasn’t exactly emerged from recent controversy looking particularly good, and it’s possible that they’re simply taking swift action to rid the site of as many “toxic” figures as possible.
While Dr. Disrespect hasn’t been caught up in any of the recent #MeToo allegations, he has embroiled himself in other controversies—namely, 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 that’s all there is to it. But the fact is, as my colleague Dave Thier argues, we may never know the whole story.