Last week, Vox’s Carlos Maza put up a Twitter thread calling on YouTube to ban Steven Crowder for making jokes about his sexual orientation and heritage. YouTube said they would look into it and Crowder put out a video saying Maza was trying to take down his channel because he was a persistent critic who frequently undermines Maza’s arguments.
Yesterday, the battle continued with Crowder releasing an “apology” video which is just 20 minutes (see below). The entire video is obviously not a sincere apology but does make a point about the kind of show Crowder does, i.e. one that often uses humor, sight gags, impersonations, etc. to make a point. Not all of Crowder’s content is silly but a lot of it is and often gets pretty edgy for political humor.
Maza didn’t see the humor in any of it, even though he’s not mentioned at all in the clip. He wrote, “Steven Crowder just published a 20-minute fake apology video, where he gratuitously repeats every gross thing he’s done on his show, making a joke out of it.” He continued, “He’s daring @YouTube to do something about it, knowing full well they won’t actually enforce their policies.”
Last week I said that I could see why Maza didn’t find Crowder’s quips bout his sexuality funny. I even suggested the jokes were detracting from Crowder’s more significant criticisms of Maza’s work (which is ripe for criticism). But Maza isn’t being attacked in that way in this clip, which is clearly deadpan humor. I don’t really expect Maza to find it funny in the midst of a public battle with Crowder but by suggesting this is an example of why Crowder should be banned from YouTube I think he’s hurting his own argument. These are broad jokes. Maza may not find them funny but other people might. Shouldn’t there be room for that on YouTube?
Today, Maza went on a Buzzfeed show to complain that “YouTube is dominated by alt-right monsters who use the platform to target their critics and make their lives miserable.” This clip is about a minute and a half of Maza’s argument:
"[Steven Crowder] is what an ideal YouTube creator looks like, and YouTube's branding about caring about queer people is meant to distract advertisers from the fact that they have no handle on their platform." – @gaywonk pic.twitter.com/ZNQqyfu9FL
— AM2DM by BuzzFeed News (@AM2DM) June 4, 2019
You get the impression that Crowder is just the first person on a list of people Maza would like to see banned. In Oct. 2017, Maza made a whole video about right-wing content creators in which he was a lot more nuanced in his approach. He certainly didn’t suggest that everyone was an alt-right monster but did suggest YouTube was in a bind. Now it seems he’s decided to use that bind to apply pressure to get Crowder banned for his own benefit.
The new twist in Maza’s pressure campaign is to claim that the company shouldn’t be able to publicly align itself with LGBT content creators during Pride Month (June) so long as it allows Crowder to continue to make videos. He wants content creators to band together and help him demand Crowder be ousted.
At this point, it seems clear Maza is going to keep pushing this campaign, something he probably learned from his time at Media Matters. And Crowder obviously isn’t going to back down on the type of show he does either. And it seems supporters of both hosts want this fight. So I guess it’s going to be left to YouTube to declare a winner by either banning Crowder or letting Maza know they refuse to ban him. Given who owns YouTube, I have my suspicions about which way this is likely to go. We’ll find out soon enough. In the meantime, here’s Crowder’s mock-apology video:
Update: I wrote about the milkshaking trend that had been popularized by the left in the UK. Here’s Maza cheering it on a couple of weeks ago. I wrote about the article he’s screencapping here. It’s a defense of public humiliation as a tool for political disputes.
How does a guy who openly supports humiliating people in public then turn around and whine about being mocked on YouTube? Seems like a bit of a disconnect and I’d really like to ask him about it. And I don’t want to hear about YouTube’s rules and regulations here. There’s a bigger issue at stake that needs to be addressed. Is public humiliation an acceptable tool for political speech? If so then he should stop complaining about Crowder’s jokes and be glad people haven’t started throwing things at him. If public humiliation is not acceptable then he might want to say that when someone else is on the receiving end.