Following the January 6 storming of the US Capitol, the former face of the famous PogChamp emote, Ryan “Gootecks” Gutierrez, made several inflammatory tweets regarding the related death of Ashli Babbitt. As a result of these tweets from Gootecks, Twitch made the decision to remove the PogChamp emote, citing the potential of the social media posts to incite further violence.
While Twitch’s decision to distance itself from Gootecks was widely praised by the community, there was a sense of sadness that removing PogChamp meant that the platform had lost a core part of its identity that was easily recognized across the various subsets present on the site. Days after the decision, Twitch announced that it would revive the emote in the form of a new PogChamp being available every 24 hours, with fighting game player Kenny “Unroolie” McWild becoming the first new face. In what has been a matter of only a few days, the PogChamp emote has now been caught up in a new Twitter-related controversy.
Dungeons & Dragons and tabletop games streamer Omega “Critical Bard” Jones was announced as the new face of PogChamp for a day. However, a response to Twitch’s announcement tweet was a collage of Critical Bard’s past tweets that have been interpreted by some users as being racist towards white people. During a celebratory stream where he played Overwatch, Critical Bard responded to the ongoing controversy, stating:
“Someone shared… a conglomeration of all the times I said, ‘white feelings don’t matter’ and are pressed about that and are now using that as a tirade against me saying, ‘I thought you don’t have PogChampers who don’t say bad things?’ Totally not the same. I’m not condemning an entire people and defending insurrectionists and people who did some head***ery. I’m saying that when you say, ‘white lives matter’ they don’t and I’ll say that again… ‘White lives’ don’t matter because ‘white lives’ aren’t a thing.”
“You can be proud of being Italian. You can be proud of being Scottish. You cannot be proud of being ‘white’, it’s not a thing. On the flip side, black folk have to say, ‘black lives matter’ because we were stolen from a country that we loved and were forced to be here stripped of our heritage and our identities, all we know is our ‘blackness’. There’s a difference between saying ‘black lives matter’ and ‘white lives matter,”” elaborated Critical Bard.
The 54-second Twitch clip has gone viral with over 370,000 views and more than 34,000 upvotes and 9,000 comments on the LivestreamFail subreddit as of this time of publication, though it does not contain the elaboration made directly after the initial defense. Critical Bard did put his Twitter account on protected in response to the ongoing discussion, but has now unlocked it since. Several content creators and users have come out in force to support the Critical Role jingle artist, including series creator Matthew Mercer, fellow cast member Liam O’Brien, and political streamer Hasan “HasanAbi” Piker.
It is a shame that the iconic PogChamp emote has been caught up in a brand-new controversy. There was an expectation that remaking the emote would be the start of something new and better for Twitch, which has been involved in various rows as the platform continues to remain the dominant streaming site. From the complicated DMCA takedown issue, banning certain terms to curb a prevalent sexual harassment problem, and seemingly mysterious bans for prominent streamers including Dr Disrespect, the Amazon subsidiary has had no shortage of controversies and the PogChamp row now has another chapter added to it.
Source: Critical Bard (full context)