YouTube gaming personality and The Game Awards’ Trending Gamer 2016 Steven "Boogie2988" Williams has, once again, publicly put his foot in his mouth in a bad way. In a June 19, 2018 appearance on the H3 podcast, we once again got a big taste of the guy’s politics, which he describes as “moderate.” Slightly to the left, but moderate. In talking about his political beliefs, Boogie had some choice words for the likes of Anita Sarkeesian and the state of Gay rights.
After the appearance, clips from the podcast blew up on Twitter especially, and Boogie spent the before and after of VidCon largely doubling down, but ultimately giving a little ground to the people who were mad at him. I’ll go into more detail about what exactly he said in a second, but what I really want to say is that these folks’ audiences need to stop looking to them for politics.
If a man is famous for playing a character that screams at a camera about video games, I don’t think I would trust them to be experts in social issues or political science. Just saying. I don’t care how entertaining they are, if you’re looking for heavier material, you may want to expand your horizons and read a book or something. I understand that fandom is a thing, and being into a creator sometimes means looking more into them as a person, but the cults of personality surrounding popular YouTubers especially is a little concerning. And it works both ways as well, I worry for the content creators when there’s tons of pressure to deliver content, on a weekly basis, from thousands of people who probably think you’re their best friend. It almost sounds dangerous!
Anyway, when I first got wind of this particular incident, I already knew of him as an outspoken “centrist,” or someone who is politically more interested in loudly advocating for the status quo than taking a hard stance on either side of a given issue. They like to talk about things like “logic” or debate, but more often than not it’s an attempt to sound intelligent without having convictions and/or wanting to maintain subscriber numbers by appealing to the lowest point of contention. That is, of course, until somebody says something slightly negative or critical about video games; then, the claws come out.
The first clip I saw of the podcast was Boogie using both Anita Sarkeesian and the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA (disclosure: I live there) as bizarre comparison totems to make a point about extremism. He was trying to make a point about escalation, but used the most mind-bogglingly thoughtless analogy possible, because video games. (Disclosure: I like video games a lot, but come on.) Anita Sarkeesian is a person who made a small series of education-aimed videos to introduce feminist concepts via video games. Her gaming content is (deliberately) entry-level stuff that isn’t controversial unless you make it. Meanwhile, the rally in Charlottesville ended in a literal murder because a white supremacist purposefully drove a car into a crowd of people. Yeah, totally two sides of the same coin. Maybe leave an actual tragedy out of your tantrums about fake video game censorship? Thanks!
Now, that was just a clip. Maybe it was taken out of context. Maybe Boogie knows what he was talking about, and maybe Pewdiepie wasn’t actually using Nazi imagery to make bad jokes. Or maybe face value is all it really takes with this kind of content. Either way, that wasn’t the only excerpt from the podcast that got people upset. Frankly, it was the less offensive one. He also really dug in on a bit about how uh, gay rights activism has caused more deaths than needed, and that if we eased into things like gay marriage in another 20 years or so and educated violent bigots, we’d have murder-free gay marriage rights. Of course, that’s another can of worms I’m less qualified to talk about, save for waving my arms at the tens of decades of history of non-straight people being murdered across the world. Funny how being aware of history makes centrism look a bit silly, isn’t it?
Here's the point. Boogie obviously means well, in the sense that he isn’t like, advocating for the stuff that went down in Charlottesville, nor is he speaking against the idea of gay marriage. He’s just taking this anti-conflict stance, calling it logic, and applying zero practical knowledge to it. Maybe his thought process checks out in a world where the history of the world we live in didn’t happen, but hold it up to any scrutiny and it makes him look like a jerk. The people who know that responded accordingly, and there was a whole drama bomb that’s still exploding.
So why do we care what YouTube “yell at video games” people think about the world? Why do people like Boogie feel the need to get on a soap box and say dumb things? The Internet is weird, and I wish I didn’t have to be reminded of something horrible that happened in my backyard because of something extremely stupid.