Youtube and Controversies: Political attitudes, conservatism and the struggle with being non-political

For those who don’t actually already know this, my Ph.D work is in political science, and since then I’ve taught political science for years before adding another graduate degree and focusing on communication. However, one thing that always seemed to grate at me was that no matter how hard I tried to be non-political, it was practically impossible. Not for me. But for anyone who happened to be in the audience. Let me explain.

To explain, it’s important to probably point out my political affiliation, because that helps to explain why it’s even stranger. Back when I was first going through undergraduate work at West Point, I was a staunch conservative. There was no problem that I felt couldn’t be solved with our military, states’ rights and did I mention our military? When I got to grad school and started learning massive amounts of information about politics, I started to realize that I hated politics. A lot.

So, I sort of became an anarchist. And that has all sorts of problems if you’re capable of actually understanding what an anarchist is. You see, people think an anarchist is some crazy liberal that throws Molotov cocktails at cops. Well, that was one type of anarchist, specifically the Russians at the turn of last century and maybe the French, well, anytime in history. As an anarchist of my type, what it meant was that I hated the fact that we need a government to do anything because what almost always happens is we become part of corruption and oligarchy, to the point where government is almost always used as a tool to oppress other people. There are good people in government, but over time, those people get drowned out by people who see government as that tool to push through their personal agendas, and there’s no end to the types of agendas they might want to push (social programs, religion, anti-Internet policies, anti-gaming policies, anti-Shania Twain fundamentalism, etc.). What it doesn’t mean is that I want to throw Molotov cocktails at anyone. That requires upper arm strength and exercise, both things I do like to protest against.

Anyway, getting back to my original point, when I was teaching political science, one thing that inevitably happened in class is that some young student would want to know what my political affiliation was. And it was rarely out of actual interest. It was almost always to figure out whether or not to listen to anything I had to say as useful. If I picked an affiliation that was different than his or hers, they discounted everything I had to say. If it was the same, they often felt they knew as much as me and then didn’t have to listen any further. If I chose my usual tact and said that I don’t have an affiliation, or that I don’t discuss it, they automatically decided that it had to be the opposite of the one they had, or they assumed it had to be liberal (no, not sure why that assumption was always made).

That brings me to an interesting phenomenon I’ve come across recently. Over the Christmas break, I found myself overly interested in following a number of channels on Youtube that I found interesting. Mostly, it was ASMR artists, but when that got kind of boring (or I didn’t need to sleep), I started to branch out and find other types of subjects. My first “go to” was gaming channels, but I’ll be honest, the majority of those are awful, often hosted by some teenage mentality that tends to scream into the microphone, or thinks it’s 1980 and has lots of flashy stuff trying to send watchers into seizures. But a few of them were actually pretty good, and one of them is actually a bit of the subject of this post.

I don’t remember how I found it, but I came across a cast called The Quartering, hosted by Jeremy Hambly, a Youtube game industry reviewer who leans to the conservative side of the house. Having watched his podcasts over the last year, I would recommend his site if you’re interested in interesting perspectives on the industry, but at the same time understanding that sometimes he seems to get a little high on himself and takes on fights that are generally left to different avenues of the Internet. An example is how he has a tendency to want to create a space that lacks politics when it comes to computer gaming (something I highly support) but then falls right into the same territory himself when he goes anti SJW (social justice warrior) and becomes political in trying to advocate for not wanting to become political. Yeah, it’s kind of the same thing I ran into when teaching political science, and even though I was completely aware of the problem, the problem always exists. What I did discover to be the ONLY solution is one he hasn’t reached yet, and that’s to stop caring about politics, rather than focusing on politics as an approach to not being political. Yeah, I know that sounds bizarre and strange, but it’s basically the only way to deal with it.

This last week saw some interesting developments for Hambly as he lost one of his main sponsorship deals with a coffee company when it was alerted to one of his recent videos (that pissed off people who tend to get riled by SJW politics), so he decided he was no longer going to accept sponsorship deals. Unfortunately, this type of drama continues, no matter what someone does about it.

What I would like to say is that when he’s not dealing with actual politics, his information is actually pretty interesting. However, one thing I have noticed is that because he has such large numbers of subscribers (I believe it is upwards of 100,000 subscribers, but could be off on that, although I know it’s pretty damn high), Hambly does often ignore the fact that his influence quite often becomes a McLuhan message is the medium factor (he’ll go on an anti-Electronic Arts rant and then laugh when EA suffers financially, arguing that it was EA that caused its downfall, not the fact that perhaps Hambly’s negativity might have attributed to the down turn).

Moving away from Hambly here (as I said, I actually like him and think his information is informative, so I don’t want to get into a criticism mode here), one thing I’ve started to notice is that there are a lot of Youtubers who attempt to adopt the Hambly model, but completely fail to do so, and only make things worse because they turn into shrills for anti-establishment thought without doing anything other than harping on how much enjoyment they get out of the drama. Having watched a lot of this behavior over the last year or so, I am starting to feel that a lot of these commentators are somewhat responsible for the down turn the industry is starting to feel. I mean, think about it: If the majority of the people covering the industry keep talking about how bad the industry is, it’s going to feed the perspective that the industry is nothing but bad.

I used to work for the industry (both Maxis and EA), so I had a unique perspective myself, but at the same time I also realized that there are a lot of diverse minds in that atmosphere and whenever I tried to get a “this is how they feel at this company”, I find myself often realizing that I was putting too much of a spin on the thought based off of anecdotal information I received from a very limited observation of what I was able to see myself.

duaneYoutube and Controversies: Political attitudes, conservatism and the struggle with being non-political

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