When we get bored online, we all have different things we turn to. Some people reload their Tumblr dashboard until something interesting happens, some get lost on TV Tropes for hours, and some people turn to YouTube videos. While I’ve only briefly made it known that I do partake of Let’s Plays here and there (a Let’s Play being people on the internet recording themselves playing through a video game), my love for them goes much deeper than I’m willing to say. And sometimes that’s because these beloved Let’s Players are extremely problematic. In a over-saturated sea of content, it’s all too easy to run into players who make triggering statements or are just plain racist or sexist—apparently believing that if comedy isn’t “edgy”, it’s not comedy at all. Luckily, this is where Michael and his blog, Let’s Play Social Justice, come in.
In any type of entertainment, advertising is one of the necessary evils of the trade. In the more indie scenes like YouTube—although I hesitate to call it indie these days—making the decision to monetize one’s channel is almost treated like an offense against the purity of the art. No matter what viewers may think, people do like getting paid for their efforts. And for the most part, advertising affiliates and subsidiaries don’t actually impact the quality or content of the videos they pay for. However, sometimes things can go wrong. In the case of Polaris’s newest venture, dreadfully and horridly wrong.
For fans of Let’s Players such as Game Grumps, Markiplier, and TotalBiscuit, the monetized conglomerate of gamers and gaming news on YouTube known as Polaris isn’t anything new or particularly amazing. It’s almost frightening how quickly the group gained power and popularity, to be completely honest, but not entirely surprising. (With the sudden Let’s Play boom, companies would have to be stupid not to try and capitalize on the audience.) I’m not a fan of the channel itself per sé, but its content is usually good, if not entertaining. In fact, it’s really one of the main places where viewers can see an equal distribution of male and female gamers. And get this, they even interact with each other. It’s fucking amazing.
If nothing else, Polaris is clearly comprised of people that do their damndest to make sure all types of gamers are presented, and given their subscriber count of 500,000, this can have a dramatic impact on the perception of gamers as a whole (it’s not just a sausage fest, isn’t that obvious by now?). The channel doesn’t go out of its way to promote equality; it just happens. So when higher ups at Polaris decided to create a show about indie game development—dubbed GAME_JAM—that happened to include two very talented women in the industry, the point was clearly to showcase these ladies’ talents as developers, not to have token females.
Recently, some drama has been stirred up in the LP (short for ‘Let’s Play’: people playing through games on YouTube, usually with commentary) community, specifically by the veterans at the Retsupurae channel against one of the most suddenly popular LPers, PewDiePie. Almost exactly a week ago, the fellows at Retsupurae released a video compilation of several people watching Pewdie videos and having less than favorable responses. This article is not a straight-out bash on Pewdie—I think he’s a genuinely nice guy that’s trying his hardest to entertain his demographic—but from watching the video it made me reconsider my own reasons for liking his channel, for enjoying LPs in general. There’s a staggeringly dangerous trend on the rise in currently popular LPs and it’s very well showcased in the video from Retsupurae.
I mean, of course, the baffling persistence of rape jokes. Continue reading