Twitch officially banned the PogChamp emote after Ryan “Gootecks” Gutierrez, the face behind the image, came out with some wildly offensive tweets.
If you’re wondering what the hell I’m talking about, don’t fear, I’m going to start from the beginning. This is all in relation to the protestors that stormed Capitol Hill on January 6 2021, a professional Street Fighter player who made the face that became PogChamp, and the tag #MAGAmartyr. Which is a phrase I never thought I’d see.
Can I get a ‘big yikes’ in the chat?
Professional Street Fighter player and personality Ryan “Gootecks” Gutierrez posted the above to Twitter alongside distressing imagery and a series of inflammatory comments, some of which have been deleted. What felt like a push for more violence in what is already a tense situation has been taken incredibly seriously by Twitch.
The streaming website responded in kind, sharing the following:
We want the sentiment and use of Pog to live on – its meaning is much bigger than the person depicted or image itself– and it has a big place in Twitch culture. However, we can’t in good conscience continue to enable use of the image.
— Twitch (@Twitch) January 7, 2021
Throughout the thread, Twitch was clearly trying to distance themselves from the man, not the ‘pog’ mentality. So feel free to use the term yourself, there’s no chance of copping a ban for saying ‘poggers’ anytime soon.
What happened to PogChamp?
PogChamp hasn’t been forgotten. The Twitch emote managed to survive its brief brush with controversy, albeit in a slightly different form. But that’s not all, folks. True to the unspoken rules of the Internet, despite condemning the person behind the controversy, the meme still lives on. Twitch endorsed the activity, and praised the idea, saying it also celebrated the diversity of creators on the streaming platform.
However, the Internet isn’t just full of sunshine and rainbows – there’s trolling too. A whole, deep, dark pit of trolling. On January 10 2021, Reversal, a Twitch streamer set to become the ‘pog’ face of the day, reported several accounts of minor harassment.
It escalated the next day when the replacement, Jones, took over the role. He was not only spammed with hurtful messages, but some of them contained death threats as well. After his livestream, Jones took to Twitter to make a statement:
“I did prep my Twitch and Discord moderators about what was probably going to happen, considering I’m a black man who is about to be the face of a global emote Twitch has loved for so long.”
“[This is] the difference between saying white lives matter and Black Lives Matter. Black folk have to say Black Lives Matter because we were stolen from a country…stripped of our heritage and our identities…All we know is our Blackness. There’s a difference.”
Twitch released a statement, where they responded, “while we’ve seen an overwhelmingly positive response from both the community and those highlighted, we are also in close contact with the new faces of PogChamp to offer support as needed. We do not tolerate harassment on Twitch, and will take action on any behaviors on our service that violate our rules.”
Despite this, Jones and a number of other Twitch creators claimed that Twitch wasn’t doing enough. They argued that the streaming platform should implement better security measures to protect all parties from harassment.
In hindsight, it’s clear that the PogChamp controversy uncovered a whole set of societal issues that, while not confined to, are very much present on streaming platforms. And that friends is the sad story of PogChamp. For now at least. We’ll do our best to keep you informed of any further developments.