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The Hot Tub-ification of Twitch
If you haven’t been following this, there’s been a sort of a big controversy brewing on certain corners of Twitch lately. Women streamers recently started going live from hot tubs and inflatable pools. The community on the site is, to put it generously, torn about this. Twitch has come along way from its roots as an ESPN for radicalized gamers, but there is still a deeply weird and aggressive resentment of women streamers on the platform. This tension among Twitch’s still very overwhelmingly male audience between wanting to stare at beautiful women and hating them is probably best summed up by the term “simp,” which is a derogatory term for men who patronize and support women. The term was born on TikTok, but last spring, became so popular on Twitch, the platform had to crack down on it.
During a livestream this week, Twitch’s head of creator development, Marcus “djWHEAT” Graham, addressed the “hot tub meta.”
“The hot tub meta. We’re going to talk about it,” Graham said. “We understand, at Twitch, that this has been getting a lot of attention from the community lately. And we have been watching closely. Our nudity and attire policy does allow bathing suits in an appropriate context. And hot tubs do fall under that criteria. However, what has not changed is the sexually suggestive and explicit content is not allowed under the guidelines, under the TOS. Twitch will take action when that’s reported to us.”
He then went on to show how a new “not interested” feature could be used to remove hot tub content from recommendations on the platform.
Graham’s discussion of the “hot tub meta” then spilled out over on to Twitter. One user tweeted, “severely disappointed at [Graham’s] and [Twitch’s] response to the ‘hot tub meta’ (what even is that wording). It's incredibly clear you have not watched more than two minutes of any of these streams, or you don't know your own TOS. Reporting systems have done nothing.”
Graham responded, “You are correct, I have not watched more than two minutes of those streams because that’s not what I watch on Twitch.”
Then a second user replied, “Why was Destiny banned then? People are less upset about the transformation of Twitch into softcore porn than they are about the inconsistency of rules. Guarantee if a dude started lubing up or doing ‘yoga’ in a thong they'd be banned in five minutes.”
For what it’s worth, a male streamer did get a one-day ban after streaming from a hot tub last week. The user, a League Of Legends player named udysof, put on lingerie and sat in a kiddie pool and was then banned. It’s unclear why.
And controversial streamer Steven "Destiny" Bonnel, who I’ve written about before, was banned again last week because a guest on his stream show a NSFW image of Hunter Biden. To the Destiny question, Graham replied, “Probably lost a debate.”
The Graham tweets and all of the hot tub drama inspired a flurry of posts on Reddit. Particularly on the fairly notorious and toxic r/LivestreamFail subreddit. Here’s a massive post about everything on r/SubredditDrama, as well. It’s a very strange situation, but as Twitch becomes a bigger place and brings in more types of users while also becoming a more important part of the “creator economy,” types of “meta” like hot tub streams are bound to pop up. And it’s still very-much radicalized core audience will continue to through tantrums about it.
But my favorite take on this was from a Redditor on r/SubredditDrama, who wrote, “Wew, good thing I only use Twitch to watch a Danish man look at a map for 8 hours and a man who is hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.”
Another Good Development In The Paddington 2 Rotten Tomatoes Saga
Earlier this week, a negative review of Citizen Kane from 1941 was added to the film’s Rotten Tomatoes score, knocking the film from a perfect 100% to a 99%. This has resulted in Paddington 2 becoming the best reviewed film of all time. Good! That movie is truly delightful and Citizen Kane doesn’t have Brendan Gleeson playing a prison inmate named Chef Knuckles McGinty.
The official Paddington Twitter account tweeted a very nice message to “Mr. Kane,” saying they hope that he isn’t too upset at being overtaken.
Sadly, Orson Welles isn’t around to respond, but a comic writer Dan McDaid, imagined what that could have been like:
Check This Out
Yes, this is what you think it is.
Meet Long Boi, A Very Tall Duck
Writer Emily Gould quote-tweeted this tweet of Long Boi, writing, “just skip to the part where he's racist, i don't have time for this.” Well, it turns out, while Long Boi is not racist (at least I think), there are a few issues with Long Boi’s story! The HuffPost has a good article on this.
First, there is no real central database for long ducks. Second, the tweet is wrong. Long Boi, according to his semi-official Instagram account, is 28 inches. And third, the particular kind of duck that he is can grow to 32 inches, so, he’s not exactly that long even. Oh, well.
T-Pain Discovers The Other Instagram Inbox
This is super relatable. I actually really didn’t know about the second Instagram inbox either until somewhat recently. When I finally opened it, mine was full of menswear brands wanting me to sell their watches and QAnon followers threatening to murder me. T-Pain’s seems like a much nicer place to be!
“Discourse Damaged Zoomers”
I’ve been writing a lot over the last few months about “Tumblr culture 2.0” popping up outside of Tumblr lately. It keeps taking different forms, but, I suspect it’s one of the main drivers behind the current moral panic around cancel culture.
Understanding how Tumblr, as a platform, impacts the culture of the web can be difficult. But I think this tweet from user @YeOldeBeyblade does a really good job of summarizing it: “you know how whales die and drift down to the bottom of the ocean and all the shit that lives in the benthic zone feeds on the carcass? a creature they have never seen Alive before but nevertheless depend on for sustenance? in the wider internet ecosystem, tumblr is that whale”
I would go a bit further and say that Tumblr is not one single whale, but the site’s memes and in-jokes and trends are whales that die on the ocean floor of the internet and then go on to influence wider culture. I also don’t necessarily think this is always a good thing. Yes, Tumblr gave us memes like Dat Boi, but, at its peak, it was a huge vector for fandom harassment and an extremely puritanical, sex-negative, and toxic “social justice” movement.
But to continue this idea of how Tumblr interacts with the rest of the world, I recently came across this great post written by user zvaigzdelasas, “The growing rift between tumblr culture as practiced on this site & ‘tumblr culture’ as practiced by expats to twitter is a fascinating example of divergent species evolution when like a cliff or river separates groups.” I’ve seen shades of this argument, as well — the super toxic users left Tumblr in 2016 and now they’re power users on TikTok and Twitter.
And this idea from zvaigzdelasas’s post lines up with another good take on this that I saw recently from user tempestpaige. They wrote about a phenomenon they’re called “discourse damaged zoomers,” which I think is a really useful concept. They argued that while a lot of the culture war discourse happening on TikTok right now was happening on Tumblr six or seven years ago, it never reached the scale that it can on a platform like TikTok.
“yes there was stupid discourse on tumblr,” tempestpaige wrote. “however, tiktok allegedly has 1 billion users. tumblr, in 2018, had about 32 million active users. tumblr peaked in 2014 with 100 million users. even if we assume that tiktok is lying, more people, especially young people, have access to smartphones now! Therr are way more tiktok users than there ever was on tumblr. the pile ons and callouts and harassment i see on tiktok is a lot worse than what i witnessed on tumblr.”
Though, I think the main mistake here is the assumption that this is only an issue for Gen Z users. I think in many ways, a lot of the toxic parts of Tumblr — lead by millennials now in their 30s — left the platform and have found homes in much bigger communities that have algorithms that make this behavior much stickier.
And all of this — the rotting whale carcass of Tumblr culture, the divergent species evolution, and the discourse damaged zoomers — was on my mind when I started seeing posts this week about the TikTok user @rx0rcist.
I won’t be linking directly to her, but she’s a young mother with half a million followers on TikTok who has posted several videos recently doxing antivaxxers. But these antivaxxers aren’t anyone in power, best as i can tell, just random people. And @rx0rcist’s videos have, rightfully in my opinion, been condemned by other users for being completely out of control. In one video, she digs through archived Facebook posts about a random woman’s divorce and euthanized dog because of a video of the woman not wearing a proper mask on a plane.
I’m frankly surprised her account hasn’t been taken down, yet, for being against the platform’s terms of service. And it’s hard not to feel like Tumblr was a containment unit and this kind of behavior has fully breeched it and is now running rampant. And worst of all, it works really well on TikTok’s algorithm.
A Cool Bluetooth Fact
Apparently, this fact goes around in memes a lot. I had never seen it before, but I am very happy to say this is real! King Harald got his “Blue Tooth” name, apparently, because of a dead tooth had. Neat.
Crabcore is Back, Baby
The infamous MySpace-era post-hardcore band, Attack Attack!, the pioneers of “crabcore,” have reunited and put out a 45-second-long song that has been described as a “country/J-pop/metalcore song,” which is a very 2021 concept. They also have a real single, which you can hear here. It’s good, but it’s no J-Pop country metalcore song.
The current line-up of Attack Attack! is original members Andrew Wetzel and Andrew Whiting, along with two new members, bassist Jay Miller and Chris Parketny on vocals. If you’re interested in this sort of Extremely Online Meme Screamo aesthetic, you should also check out the Bilmuri project by Johnny Franck, another former Attack Attack! member. I’ve written about it before.
It also feels very fitting that the band that so expertly rode the zeitgeist of the MySpace era is now posting tweets like this:
SEGA Europe Asks A Very Interesting Question
Earlier this month, the Twitter account for SEGA Europe asked its followers to share cool SEGA art that they had made. This is a very loaded thing to request on the internet. Why? Well, SEGA publishes Sonic The Hedgehog and, uh, Sonic fans are very specific kind of fan. In fact, the top reply to SEGA’s tweet is from a very well-known Sonic fan, Chris Chan:
Chris Chan, real name Christine Weston Chandler, is a Sonic fan that I haven’t really written about much on Garbage Day because, frankly, her story is way too complicated to really do justice in one newsletter item. She was a huge target in the mid-00s for communities like Something Awful, 4chan, and Encyclopedia Dramatica. She drew a comic called Sonichu. I definitely recommend checking out her Know Your Meme page if you’re not familiar.
P.S. here’s some good NSFWish Maine content.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***
Before tumblr it was Livejournal as well. Still wilds me out that I have a mutual friend with the person who started racefail and it’s interesting to see how many people who were big LJ discourses now work in media.