Keemstar doesn't report news. He eggs it on.
On April 30th, 2019, popular YouTuber Desmond 'Etika' Amofah, in the throes of a mental breakdown, appeared on a YouTube "news" channel called DramaAlert, wherein the host, Keemstar, challenged him: "Then why live? Just jump off a cliff."
Less than two months later, Etika actually jumped off a bridge.
Keemstar's initial response to Etika's disappearance sheds light on the extreme toxicity of YouTube drama culture.
In the world of petty YouTube drama, there's no bigger name than Keemstar. The 37-year-old YouTuber, whose real name is Daniel Keem, is best known for his DramaAlert channel where he capitalizes on the constant stream of infighting within YouTube culture. While he bills his show as the "#1 source for news on the social interactions in online entertainment," it's more accurate to call it a platform for Keemstar to heighten, encourage, and involve himself in the drama. Keemstar, with strands of grey in his overgrown beard, can often be found arguing with and making fun of people 10 to 20 years his junior.
For months prior to his suicide, Etika publicly struggled with mental illness, posting delusional and suicidal thoughts on social media and recording multiple confrontations with police that led to brief stints in institutions. Keemstar took Etika's arrest as an opportunity to bring him on the show to make light of his mental illness, suggest that his suicidal musings were an act, and ultimately, egg him on like he was a sideshow attraction.
Before bringing Etika on the show, some fans warned Keemstar that Etika wasn't in a good mental space for that level of ridicule.
"Suck a d**k. I run a news channel, I'm going to get my viewers the news, I don't give a f**k about your fake SJW emotions on twitter for attention," tweeted Keemstar.
On DramaAlert, Etika manically ranted about life being a simulation and his own role as a god, to which Keemstar responded by facetiously suggesting he jump off a cliff. Some might claim that line is taken out of context, but the only necessary context is that a 37-year-old man brought an obviously mentally troubled kid on his show to make fun of him and flippantly joke about committing suicide. Then the kid really jumped. That is the context.
The entire episode can be watched here, but fair warning: It's hard to watch an adult smugly egg on a troubled young man in the middle of a mental breakdown.
Etika ( INTERVIEW ) after being ARRESTED by Police! #DramaAlert ( SHOCKING ) www.youtube.com
The interview culminates in Etika calling Keemstar out for wrongly outing an older, small-time Runscape streamer as a pedophile and making the man cry on livestream years prior.
"I always shied away from whenever people would make fun of people. It just felt bad. It's like why would you tear that person down? Be nice to people...you're f**king mean," said Etika.
"Sometimes I am mean about it but it's still funny," responded Keemstar.
Etika grew increasingly upset about the situation, yelling at Keemstar to shut up and eventually disconnecting.
"Oh my god, what a f***king nut job," Keemstar laughed at the end.
Afterwards, Keemstar bragged about direct messaging Etika to call him "weak" and Etika blocking him in response.
On June 20th, Etika posted his final video, "I'm sorry" on YouTube. His body wouldn't be found for another five days, during which fans frantically searched New York City for him.
During this time, Keemstar posted an almost constant stream of Etika-related tweets and memes on Twitter, many of them doubting the authenticity of his mental illness and suggesting it was a stunt, just like he did during his DramaAlert episode. He has since deleted these Tweets, but luckily there are screenshots.
As a side note, Keemstar also has a history of making fun of mental illness.
Now that Etika is dead, Keemstar has purged his Twitter of all "doubt" and is instead pretending that he was a true friend to Etika who really, truly cared about him.
Indeed, Etika apparently was a big fan of Keemstar, and he mentioned him directly in "I'm sorry."
Naturally, some of Etika's fans who witnessed Keemstar's behavior throughout the whole ordeal have been calling out Keemstar for his hypocrisy.
"I really don't care how much hate I get for this. You had a prime opportunity to help this man, and you sat back and laughed. Hope you enjoy living with regret," said one user.
Keemstar responded to the backlash with a Tweet lamenting his frustration "with some people in this community that would use this opportunity to swing at me or others. Incredibly disrespectful."
Except: They're one hundred percent correct. YouTube has one of the most toxic cultures anywhere online, and much of that centers around "drama." YouTube monetarily incentivizes fighting, meanness, and bullying. For a mentally ill content creator in that space, it's incredibly easy to be swallowed whole. Keemstar reigns supreme at the center of that culture, with his DRAMAALERT faux "news" channel boasting over five million subscribers.
Keemstar is a cultural grifter who manipulated a mentally ill man for clicks and continued to meme "mental illness for attention" bulls**t until the man was finally found dead. He doesn't "report news." He eggs it on. Worst of all, this isn't new for Keemstar. He's a vulture who has spent years preying on people's worst moments for profit. In that line of work, it was inevitable that one of his targets would eventually commit suicide, and it's insane that Keemstar is now trying to position himself as a good guy.
How can someone who behaves like Keemstar possibly speak of disrespect? How little self-awareness does someone like that need to have to function?
All of this isn't to say that Keemstar directly caused Etika's suicide. Nobody should hold Keemstar responsible, and Etika was failed on many fronts, including by the US mental health care system and society's larger stigma around mental illness. But Etika's death was entirely preventable, and instead of helping him in his moment of need, Keemstar publicly ridiculed him before a massive audience for profit. Keemstar does not get to turn around now and play the hero or the mourning friend. Keemstar's behavior is indicative of YouTube's larger culture of toxicity and abuse, and that culture just cost a young life. Now, Keemstar has to live with that.
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The quarterback said "I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country." And then he tried to apologize. And only made it worse.
Drew Brees, a man who makes literally millions of dollars for throwing a ball, has come under fire for insensitive comments he made about NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police brutality.
"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees said in the interview with Yahoo Finance. He clarified that this was in part because he envisioned his grandfathers, who fought in World War II, during the National Anthem. He continued, saying, "And is everything right with our country right now? No. It's not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together. We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution."
This isn't the first time Brees made it clear that he cares more for the idea of a make-believe unified America than he does for actual human lives. In 2016, he criticized Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the anthem, saying it was "disrespectful to the American flag" and "an oxymoron" because the flag gave critics the right to speak out in the first place.
Colin Kaepernick kneeling in protest of racist police brutality
Of course, the flag's alleged ideals have been proven to only be applicable to wealthy, white men—men like Brees. Sure, his grandfathers did a noble thing when they fought under the US flag during WWII, and no one, including Kaepernick, has ever said that sacrifice isn't worth respecting. Thanks to the sacrifices of many people (including the enslaved Black backs upon which this country was built, including the scores of routinely abused Black soldiers who fought for American lives), America has offered opportunity and peace for many, many people. In particular, Ole' Glory has been very kind to men like Brees: rich, white men who still control the majority of the power and the wealth in the United States.
But what about the rest of us, Drew? What about George Floyd whose neck was crushed by a police officer who kneeled on him so casually that he didn't even take his hand out of his pocket? What about Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot for the crime of being Black and going for a jog? What about Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was murdered by police in her home in the middle of the night for a crime that had nothing to do with her? What about Tony McDade, Drew–have you heard his name? Have you heard about the 38-year-old Black trans man who was gunned down in Florida last week? Do you understand why these people's family's may harbor just a bit of disrespect for your precious flag?
Is it possible for you to realize, Drew, that your wish for "unity" is not a wish for progress, but a wish to maintain the status quo? When you call for unity under the American flag, you're talking about your flag, the flag that represents a long, sordid history of racial oppression and violence. There is no unity where there is no justice. When you say that "we are all in this together," what you're saying is that we all have roles to play in the version of society that has served you so well. For your part, you'll be a rich, white man, and for Black people's part, they'll continue to be victims of state-sanctioned murders– but hopefully more quietly, hopefully in a manner that doesn't make you uncomfortable?
When you say, "We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution," what you mean to say is that POC and their allies are at fault. Sure, you probably agree that Derek Chauvin took it a bit too far, and you probably feel a little self-conscious that he's brought all this "Black rights" stuff up again. But when you say "all," you place blame on the victims who are dying under a broken system. And what, exactly, do you expect POC to do differently, Drew? Ahmaud Arbery was just out jogging, and still he died. George Floyd was just trying to pay a cashier, and still he died. POC and their allies try to peacefully protest by marching in the streets or taking a knee at a football game, and still white people condemn and criticize. Still the police shoot.
After much criticism, Brees did attempt an apology on Instagram, where he posted a hilariously corny stock photo of a Black and white hand clasped together. His caption, though possibly well-intentioned, made it even clearer that his understanding of the movement for Black lives is thoroughly lacking.
Highlights of the "apology" include his immediate attempt to exonerate himself from culpability, claiming that his words were misconstrued, saying of his previous statement: "Those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character." Unfortunately, Drew, white people like you are the "enemy," as you put it, because by default you are at the very least part of the problem. No one is accusing you of being an overt racist, Drew; no one thinks you actively and consciously detest Black people. But your lack of empathy, your apathy, and your unwillingness to unlearn your own biases are precisely what has persisted in the hearts and minds of well-meaning white Americans for centuries.
Next, you say, "I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the Black community in this movement." No, Drew. Just no. Black people don't need white people's savior complexes to interfere in their organizing; what they need is for us to shut up and listen. What they need is for us to get our knees off of their necks.
Finally, you say, "I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy." This, Drew, is suspiciously similar to saying, "But I'm one of the good whites!" The fact of the matter is that feeling the need to prove your allyship is not about helping a movement; it's about feeding your own ego. Not only that, but your emphasis on "ALWAYS" does a pretty good job of making it clear that you don't think you have a racist bone in your body and that you have taken great offense at any accusations to the contrary. I have some news for you, Drew: Every white person is racist. Sure, the levels vary, and while you may not be actively and consciously discriminating against POC, you have been brought up in a racist system, and your implicit biases are as strong as any other white person's. Your job now is to unlearn those biases and confront those subtle prejudices in yourself and in other white people. Maybe the first step in doing so is just shutting your f*cking mouth about kneeling at football games. Maybe you should even consider taking a knee yourself.
For other non-BIPOC trying to be better allies, check out one of these 68+ anti-racism resources.
We're glad they're on our side.
The world is up against a seemingly insurmountable threat, but luckily, we've got a crack team of heroes on the case.
Sure, there's already the girl with super strength, the guy who can fly, and the anthropomorphic, trash-talking animal tailor-made for merchandise. But this is a threat of intergalactic proportions, and we're going to need all the help we can get if we want to survive.
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