CULTURE

Toxic YouTube Culture Leads to Another Suicide Attempt

Hyojin "Squizzy" Choi attempted suicide after a brutal stream of online bullying over YouTube "drama."

Edit (9/24): To clarify, Slazo is not a "rapist" and this article never accuses him of such. That does not mean Chey speaking up about being sexually assaulted is a "false rape claim" either; it's not even a "rape claim" because she never claims she was raped. She felt pressured into a sexual situation and genuinely seems to believe she was sexually assaulted. Her feelings are valid. So are his. This is not the kind of alleged sexual assault scenario that anyone could or should prosecute, and it should absolutely not ruin Slazo's career. As the article states, this is a grey situation that boils down to a bad high school relationship characterized by poor communication, playing out on a public stage. Again, nobody's life or career should be ruined here, least of all by a bunch of random a**holes on Twitter bullying people against the wishes of everyone involved.

19-year-old YouTuber/animator, Hyojin "Squizzy" Choi, attempted suicide after a brutal stream of online bullying over YouTube "drama." Her horrendous treatment once again puts the extreme toxicity of YouTube "drama" culture into perspective.

The culture surrounding YouTube is an absolute powder keg of hormones, sexism, and unchecked aggression. Outside of absolute grifters like Keemstar, the actual details of most of the drama would seem petty to almost any mature adult.

Unfortunately, YouTube drama usually involves younger people who don't have the life experience to see the forest for the trees. They're enmeshed in a culture wherein their private lives and interpersonal relationships play out on the public stage for the consumption of a rabid, largely uncaring audience. When that audience turns against someone, their viciousness knows no bounds.

This particular case, however, seems especially egregious. The details, which play out across a series of Twitter posts, explanation videos, and private message screenshots, boil down to a young girl being singled out and harassed for the "crime" of defending her friend who spoke up about being sexually assaulted by another YouTuber.

slazo

The alleged sexual assault involved is one of those grey area cases that tends to stoke strong emotions on both sides––a bad former relationship, characterized by awful teenage communication, in which one person claims the other person pressured them into sexual acts they weren't comfortable with. In this particular instance, the accused YouTuber, Michael "Slazo" Kucharski, verified that the screenshots between him and his ex (Chey "FiZZIP0P"), detailing how she felt pressured by him, were real but not in their proper context.

Somehow, this spiraled into people claiming that it was a "false rape claim" and that anyone defending Chey was a "bad person" trying to destroy Slazo's career. While the YouTube community isn't exactly known for its subtlety, it's absolutely baffling that they jump to "false rape claim" instead of realizing that if someone legitimately felt pressured into a sexual situation, they were sexually assaulted. That doesn't necessarily mean that the other person could be prosecuted in a court of law, but that's very different from a "false rape claim"––especially in this case where Slazo admitted to pressuring her."

Regardless, YouTube's community of screeching lunatics piled onto Hyojin, in particular, probably because out of all the people defending Chey, she also happens to be female. They demanded she publicly apologize to Slazo for not wanting to associate with him because he allegedly sexually assaulted her friend. Any time she posted online, they filled her comments with hatred.

They deemed her a psycho and a liar and spread a debunked story about her abusing a dog. They maliciously edited her Wikitubia to reflect their assertion that she was a known liar. Some of them sent death threats. And eventually, sure enough, Hyojin tried to kill herself, making a post on Twitter stating: "and for my next trick I'm going to f**king kill myself."

This, too, was the subject of ridicule with memes and claims that she was "just seeking attention." Except she wasn't. She actually tried to kill herself.

On the one hand, it's easy to write off YouTube drama culture as stupid and petty. Most of it is. But at the same time, what seems like petty drama to everyone outside of the loop can be absolutely life-destroying for a person being targeted.

Most full-grown adults aren't capable of mentally handling the wrath of a hateful social media mob. Imagine being forced into that position at 19, having everything about you, including the most private details of your life, attacked and ridiculed on a public forum. Imagine feeling like so many people hate you and want you dead, all because you had the audacity to defend your friend for a totally valid reason.

Now, imagine all the people ridiculing you, mocking you, and spending their energy trying to hurt you, actually believing they're the good ones.

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Beyoncé has released Black Is King, and as usual, her work is subtly shifting the world and inspiring millions.

The musical film dropped today on Disney+. It's a visual companion to 2019's The Lion King: The Gift, an album inspired by last year's remake of The Lion King, in which Beyoncé starred as Nala. The moment it released at 12AM PT, fans lost it with excitement.


Black Is King is rooted in Black history. "History is your future," Beyoncé says prophetically toward the beginning. "One day you will meet yourself back where you started, but stronger." The film is studded with references to African history, portraying the lives of African royalty.


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CULTURE

Keemstar the Grifter: Etika's Suicide and the Perils of YouTube Drama

Keemstar doesn't report news. He eggs it on.

Etika on Keemstar's #DRAMAALERT

DRAMAALERT

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.

Keemstar Etika blocked

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.

keemstar etika doubt

As a side note, Keemstar also has a history of making fun of mental illness.

keemstar 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.