A message to ex-fans of The Rewired Soul

Let me start with welcoming words:

Cut your fucking bullshit.

You may think by unsubscribing from Boutté’s channel, you have never validated his toxicity. Well, whether you believe it or not, you had done it.

Not only you enjoy watching him bullying other content creators, you even partook in the activity! You saw him as nothing but an angelic figure whose heart was entirely pure, whose actions were anything but wrong. You demonised his victims for having the guts to defend themselves from the malice and you demonised his critics for defending them. In fact, you were willing to send the SWAT teams to anyone who dared to speak against your prophet.

By partaking in the abuse, you felt like you were doing something for the greater good.

And that ‘nice’ feeling ended when commentary channels started ganging up on him; you were suddenly aware of the toxicity and regretting you were fans of his. But, because of what I just said in the previous paragraph, I don’t believe your realisation and remorse are thoroughly sincere.

How the fuck did you fail to see the bullying right in front of you? Were all of your senses impaired or something? Did you think bullying is an entirely physical act? Or maybe you were dupable enough to easily fall for his phony ‘mental health advocacy’ rhetoric and you thought intentions were everything? While they are in the realm of possibility, I also have a more contentious hypothesis: it is hard to hate the snake in front of you when you are also ones.

Why would you hate it, anyway? Doing so yourselves means you have to hate the snakes in you. Deep down, you are probably glad commentary channels were the first to call him out; that way, you don’t have to embrace contemplation. You don’t have to condemn yourselves for the poisonous human beings you are.

Oh, and don’t forget some of you unsubscribed from him NOT because you were repulsed his abusiveness, but because he lied to YOU. Your standard of morality is so low, you determine a person’s moral integrity NOT by how he/she treats his/her fellow human beings in general, but only by how he/she treats YOU.

Someone or something is a problem only if he/she/it affects your negatively. If not, you wouldn’t see him/her/it as a problem and you would look down on or even berate anyone who does.

The only ex-fans of TRS I truly respect are the ones who are willing to admit their lapse of judgement and their participation in the maliciousness instead of claiming sinlessness, are ones who quickly took heed of his venom-spewing once it surfaced. I have never encountered the former. But, I have encountered the latter lots of times in Youtube videos’ comment sections.

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Is Pewdiepie a member of the alt-right?

The answer is a definite no. If you actually watch his videos that are used as evidences by the media against him, you would know he was (and still is) being smeared.

Felix ‘Certainly-Not-Hitler’ Kjellberg

The video Fiverr video was never meant to be hateful. He found the idea of paying people to do anything for five dollars was ridiculous; when he paid the men to hold the ‘Death To All Jews’ sign, he did not expect them to actually do it.

In fact, he was horrified when they actually did. I know because I actually watched his reaction; contrary to popular belief, he was certainly not delighted and he was certainly not bursting into a laughter. He realised that he had just committed a horrible recklessness.

I also don’t get why people think making Nazi jokes makes one an actual Nazi. It is not. Call me heretical, but I believe jokes can be just… you know… jokes; they are not always representatives of the jokers’ actual viewpoints. If that’s the case, then Ben Fritz, the Wall Street Journal reporter who smeared him, is also an anti-Semite for making Jewish jokes as well.

Oh, and the allegedly anti-Semitic channel he was giving shout-out to, I cannot say if it really was considering I have not watched a single video. But, if the Youtuber behind it is indeed just a giant edgelord who love making edgy jokes, then it is not a channel that promotes anti-Semitism.

The ‘Bros’

Regarding the mosque shooter who said ‘subscribe to Pewdiepie’ before committing his horrible acts, many argued he mentioned the meme (as the Pewdiepie vs T-Series ‘rivalry’ was and still is raging) just to bring more infamy to himself. But, even if he was a sincere fan, I still don’t believe Felix is at fault here.

Not only he was quick to condemn the violence, he also has a history with condemning the irrational branch of his own fandom and that makes him hated by his ex-fans; he is one of those Youtubers who no longer appeases to fans. He is certainly different from Trump, who is not only willing to condemn violence done in his name, but also has called his Neo-Nazi supporters ‘fine people’.

He also condemned his fans for being racist against Indians just because the T-Series channel is from India; he even countered the racism by having a charity livestream where he and his not-racist fans donated to Indian children. He has been making charity livestreams for years, which, of course, the media love to ignore and are more interested in his income.

Ben-Ben

People are also mad at Felix for featuring Ben Shapiro in one of his videos. Well, I am personally annoyed because I see him as an insufferable pundit who certainly does not care about facts despite claiming to do so; Felix certainly could have chosen a better public figure. But, does this count as a promotion of the far-right ideology? No, it doesn’t.

One thing for sure, while he is indeed very conservative, Shapiro is also a critic of Donald Trump -the alt-right’s favourite politician- and he, an actual Jew, has experience anti-Semitic abuse from actual members of the alt-right. He is certainly not one of them.

Also, Shapiro was not given a platform to spew his political beliefs; he was there just to review memes. Felix is not one of those Youtubers and journalists whose intention to expose far-right individuals is not accompanied by intellectual rigour and willingness to drop their own ideological propensity, resulting in recklessly giving the extremists unchallenged platforms. Never mind far-right politics, Felix never gives one to its more moderate counterparts.

The n-word ‘oopsie’

Well, he did use the N-word on a gaming livestream and I cannot defend that; it was wrong for him to do it. But, I disagree the usage of any slurs instantly makes one bigoted; it may also means one is a reckless edgelord and he is certainly one. Not to mention he used the N-word against a fellow player whose race was unknown; he dropped the word purely out of frustration.

And I think his apology video is excellent. While Felix said it was not that great, people praised him for not making the video unnecessarily long, going straight to the point, owning up to his mistake and acknowledging his inability to learn from past controversies. Even to this day, I am still unable to make such sincere apology.

Thot thot thot thot thot

Oh, and don’t forget the misogyny accusation because he called Alinity, a female Twitch streamer, a ‘thot’. While he indeed called her such, he did not do so simply because she showed her cleavage; he called her a ‘thot’ because she attracted viewership by using nothing but her sexual appeal. So, like it or not, she is a thot.

Her defenders also ignore this one fact: Alinity copyright struck Felix’s video, despite him not breaking any copyright rules, while she was on her livestream with a fucking smirk on her face. Basically, she was not psychologically hurt by being called a thot; she was just using the situation to steal another person’s income and she even openly admitted she had abused the system many times. To this day, it is sad she is still being defended by people whose only source of info is that slanderous Vice article.

Her defenders also ignore ItsSkyLol, another female Twitch streamer who not only defended Felix, but also vented about how Alinity and her likes provoke horny male viewers to watch female streamers and expecting them to be their personal sex toys. If anything, Felix respect women more than Alinity’s defenders do.

The missing data

There is one 2014 episode of his now-defunct podcast where he was horrified by the rise of a racist and homophobic party in his home country of Sweden. But, sadly, that particular episode has been made private on Youtube and the entire podcast series is missing from SoundCloud.

For some time, I thought the missing episode would be enough to convince the more reasonable branch of his detractors that he is not a racist. But, not only the episode was created five years ago, some of the criticism against him is unfortunately valid.

When the ‘haters’ are right

Like it or not, arts and entertainment do have real-life implications.

Both, especially the latter, either affirm already-established societal beliefs or tell us to embrace certain beliefs, especially regarding gender, race and religion. They can be a force of good. But, we know damn well they are a bad influence most of the time.

I am all for edgy jokes. But, I also believe there is a time and a place for everything. Felix is a white Youtuber of western-upbringing who lives in the west, a part of the world where far-right politics is on the rise. Is it really wise of him to make Nazi jokes for the sake of being edgy?

Apart from the Christchurch terrorist (whose status as an actual Pewdiepie fan is doubted by many), I have not found a single evidence where Felix is admired by Neo-Nazis (unlike Trump who is beloved by them). But, just because he is not their favourite Youtuber, that does not mean he can’t be.

Just like how making ‘racist’ jokes (mind the airquotes) does not make the jokers racist, I also don’t think loving the jokes make us racist as well (and I wish SJWs should learn nuanced thinking). But, it also does not mean actual racists won’t love the jokes.

Why wouldn’t they? The content of the jokes clearly indulges their racism. In fact, I am sure they are glad the certain public figures make ‘racist’ jokes, especially when they are made for the sake of being offensive and lack some satirical elements.

And, in this era, Neo-Nazis are already politically empowered by the likes of Trump holding government positions. The last thing we need is for them to be culturally empowered, for them to believe the entertainment establishment tolerate their ideology. Eventually, they will be even more immensely motivated to spread their extreme ideology to the numerically-abundant impressionable individuals.

That’s why I also don’t have any good rebuttals when Oliver Thorn of Philosophy Tube implicitly call him the most famous Swedish Youtuber who spreads anti-Semitic messages. Twice, if I remember correctly.

Oh, and as a non-Jew, I don’t have the right to decide whether Jewish jokes are offensive or not. The only ones who do are the Jews. They are the actual targets of the jokes. While non-Jews can voice their opinions as well, we certainly don’t know how it feels to be Jews and we certainly only speak for ourselves.

Replace ‘Jews’ with other groups of people and my statement still stands.

What IF he is a racist?

Well, just take a look at those far-right politicians. Trump’s minions deny he is anything but a petulant, Nazi-tolerating and misogynist bully, despite the abundance of incriminating evidences in the forms of videos and his own tweets. Jair Bolsonaro’s minions deny he is anything but a misogynist, racist and homophobic dictator-wannabe who wants to destroy the environment, despite the fact it is the reason why he was famous in the first place!

And the same thing can happen to Felix’s fandom.

While I admittedly still fall for fake or patchily-reported news, I have learned to accept my idols as flawed human beings by rejecting their divine status. So, despite my fervent defence of Felix, I believe he can be (can be, not is) a horrible person and I have to brace myself if (if) he is revealed as a horrible human being; the earnestness of his words can be corroborated on the way he speaks, another thing his detractors willfully ignore.

But then, I am speaking for myself. We all know how fandoms behave. In spite of Felix’s increasing maturity over the years, some of his fans still defend him with such zeal no matter what, even if he is a (hypothetical) Neo-Nazi. And the media are not helping either.

They have been either petty or slanderous against him (and Youtubers in general) for many years. When they are not busy spewing pseudo-progressivism, they are too busy focusing on his wealth and implicitly encouraging their undoubtedly more traditional viewers/readers to despise the man who makes a living out of a so-called ‘not-real’ job. The media seed contempt among the minds of many Youtube fans.

And the contempt provides fans ammunition to attack the media. Every single Youtube news reported by the media will be disregarded as ‘fake’, regardless of their accuracy. Not only the media’s endeavour to get rid of their biggest industry rivals includes shooting their own feet, they will sway Youtube fans away from acknowledging potentially harsh truths about their idols.

If (if) Felix Kjellberg AKA Pewdiepie explicitly and unambiguously expose himself as a white supremacist and the story is picked up by the media, many on Youtube will never believe it.

Why should they believe the same entity who is infamous for spreading falsehood?

Conclusion

We can learn two things from this:

First, when one is a public figure, be careful with one’s actions and words. Like it or not, one will be seen as a role model by some members of the masses. Individuals have definitely become better or worse, thanks to their role models.

Second, a journalist must take his/her title seriously by actually embracing objectivity and pursuing truth. He/she must learn that having agendas like ‘looking progressive’ and ‘getting rid of the competitors’ does not make one a journalist. It makes one a pundit. An insecure one of that.

Okay, I make it sound like Felix and the media are equally in the wrong here. While I do criticise him, the content of his videos has become less recklessly edgy and more well-thought-out. He actually has made efforts to become a better, more responsible public figure. Compared that to the media.

At first, they tried to discredit him by pettily focused on his wealth. When that did not destroy his career, they took advantage of the rise of far-right movements by slandering him as a fervent supporter. None of them have yet to apologise and, every time they make a slanderous report of him, they also make sure their viewers/readers remember his past controversies.

Basically, not only they don’t have any guilt, they will keep doing it until they have reached their end goal.

And yet, they have to gall to be angry when the public call them ‘fake journalists’.

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My initial thoughts about Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery

I am not a gamer. Nowadays, I almost never play any video games; when I was younger, I only played racing games, not ones akin to Zelda and Final Fantasy. So, it is bold and stupid of me to review something which belongs to a realm I have almost zero experience with. But, I cannot help myself from doing it.

I mean, this is a Harry Potter game, after all. As a pothead who has relatively good understanding of the HP universe, I am credible enough to review it, even if I know next to nothing about the medium. But, in this case, I am confident with my game design critique.

Even from the first seconds I played the game, its flaws were immediately obvious: this supposedly interactive media work is anything but. Instead of allowing players to explore the settings in great details, it only allows us to stare at our avatars doing nothing but standing; they move only for doing tasks.

At first, I loved the energy points. The fact that it took four minutes to restore only one encouraged me to drop my phone more often. But, the more I play it, the more I am agitated by it. They force me to undergo choppy and ungratifying pacing, which leave a bad taste in my mouth; if I want a more seamless experience, I have to spend actual money.

God, I hate how on-the-nose the microtransactions are!

If we want to gain energy quicker, we must spend our gems. Sometimes, we need to wait hours for the next task and the only way to speed up the time is to spend some gems. While they are obtainable by attending classes, doing the extra tasks and reaching a new XP level, we never get them in bulks; therefore, spending money is the easiest way out.

One can argue this is how the developers of this free game get their cash; in other situations, I would agree with that sentiment. But, the problem is they also sell galleons which, unlike the gems, are extremely easy to obtain; if you want more cash, just attend more classes.

Thanks to my obsessive tendency to attend the virtual classes (can’t say the same thing about the real ones), even when I don’t have to, my galleons are almost always 50k, the maximum limit; they almost never go below 49k. That’s how easy it is to obtain them. While I can see the validity in the ‘income’ defence, the fact that they sell easily obtainable items show how greedy the people behind-the-scenes are.

If I want to implement a Marxist lens here, the feature is a reflection of real-life economic inequality; if one wants less discomfort, one has to spend more money. Obviously, this implementation does not hold strong ground; surely, the accessibility of education, healthcare and legal defence is more consequential than the ability to experience good gaming immersion. But still, the shameless display of greed is too grotesque to ignore.

The way the classes are designed also does not make much sense. While teachers mostly ask topically relevant questions, they also occasionally ask about irrelevant topics, like the colour of Madam Hooch’s eyes or the name of Dumbledore’s predecessor. To make it even stupider, we also have to answer our classmates’ questions, none of which are relevant to the lessons! But, there are also other features that I love.

You will also require to complete these three tasks: 1. trace your fingers along shaped lines; 2. tap an ever-expanding and shrinking circle and make sure it stops within the given outlines; 3. tap an icon in a vertical bar, make sure it stays within the marked area until it becomes fully green and you have only thirty seconds to do it; the only way to move the icon is to tap (going up) and untap it (going down).

What I like about those three tasks is they require our concentration; I still have problems with the first and it took me a long time to fully master the third. While I doubt they are the most difficult things video games have to offer, they are undoubtedly more superior the topically-relevant questions which enforce the traditional and often-worthless rote-learning. And that’s not the only good aspect of the game’s design.

The characters’ movements are often repetitive and when they assemble in large together (especially when they attend the Weird Sisters concert), each individual has the exact same movement, resulting creepily robotic-looking crowd of androids. When I mention bodily movements, I exclude facial expressions.

The characters are able to exude subtle, expressive and relatively true-to-life faces while still looking very cartoonish. Again, while there is nothing ingenious about it, I am impressed by the animators’ ability to avoid the uncanny valley which many in the industry still fall for.

Now, about the world-building aspect…

There is one Extra Credits video that discusses about kindness in video gaming. They cite NieR: Automata, a game where it encourages players to risk losing their save files just for the sake of helping their fellows, most of whom they will never meet. It is a contrast with other video games where helping others will give us more rewards, where the kindness is phony and insincere.

That video influences how I view Hogwarts Mystery, where we also get rewards for helping the main character’s friends. While getting more knowledge, empathy and courage points does make sense, why the hell would we get more galleons and gems for doing so? I cannot say if this can negatively affect the psyche of young players. But, it sure reminds me of the real life, where kindness is often phony and insincere.

Obviously, helping my avatar’s friends require interactions and they reveal how dreadful the game’s writing is. The dialogues are so cheesy, cliched and unrealistic, they make Rowling’s uninspiring writing style looks masterful in comparison. Frankly, in this case, I hate it because they distract us from how deep the characters are.

Okay, the characters do have problems. Barnaby Lee, for example, is a brawny and kindhearted airhead; he is two stereotypes combined into one. Ben Copper is fearful of literally everything. Merula Snyde, the main character’s enemy, is a Slytherin known for her constant gush of conceit and condescension. Madam Pince is an even bigger scowling guardian of the books. Rowan Khanna is a bookworm who enjoys studying. They seem like one-dimensional characters. Seemingly.

In general, it is impressive how the main character befriends Slytherins like Liz Tuttle and aforementioned Barnaby, despite not coming from the same house; it is a contrast with the canon where the characters have almost entirely volatile relationships with the Slytherins, who are seen as moral lepers. Even Merula will extend some goodwill gestures (albeit insults-laden) from time to time by helping the main character in a handful of quests.

And Merula is not mean just for the sake of it. She suffers from insecurity due to being a child of imprisoned Death Eaters; it also does not help she got backstabbed by fellow student, Tulip Karasu. No matter how mean and arrogant she is, I cannot help feeling sincerely sorry for her at times.

Barnaby Lee, another Slytherin who stopped befriending her for her nasty personality, is also a child of imprisoned Death Eaters, who were abusive to him. So, beneath that stereotypical kindhearted yet dumb facade lies a child who knows how it feels to be hurt and who presumably refuses to make others experience what he experienced.

The aforementioned Tulip Karasu is an eccentric and seemingly happy-go-lucky prankster. But, she sincerely regretted how she backstabbed Merula and she often convinces the main character how his/her nemesis isn’t as bad as she appears to be. And Merula is not the only one who is kinder than she appears to be.

I never remember Madam Pince showing a soft side in any of the books. But, unexpectedly, she gives the game’s main character and his friends house points for making her recall affectionate memories of James Potter and Lily Evans. Despite still being a stereotypical obsessive librarian, she has a soft spot for the students.

I think Severus Snape in this version also has a soft spot for the students. Well, not really. But, despite the aloofness, he is not a teacher who unfairly favours Slytherins and who bullies every student he deems weak. Basically, this version of the character deviates the canon. And I don’t mind it at all.

Snape grew up in a volatile household and was bullied by the Marauders (a fact many potheads love to sweep under the rug). Such individual would grow up either as an individual whose desire for vengeance turns him into a bully (and I wish some in the pro-Snape faction stop romanticising him)… or as an aloof one who detest bonding but still refuse to inflict pain on others, having first-hand experiences with it. While the latter is clearly not canon, the resulting alteration is not contrived.

I should also mention Rita Skeeter, whose depiction is a lot more nuanced. In the novels, she does nothing other than ruining the characters’ lives. But, in the game, the sleazy reporter encourages the main character to open his/her eyes to the ugly side of humanity.

While some may perceive this as cynicism, I consider this is as a dose of realism. She is right to assert that humanity is not all flowers and rainbows and perceiving it through a sugary lens will detach us from the reality. Well, she only lightly slaps us back to reality. But, it is still a slap, regardless.

Oh, I almost forgot about Ben Copper. So far, I see nothing deep about the character. But, what I love about him is how his existence gives the fixation with Hogwarts Houses a giant finger.

Yes, Ben Copper is not canon. But, in an article I made where I chastised the obsession with the school houses, I pointed out that not only the characters betray the values of their respective houses, the values themselves can be destructive in the context of education. In the end, substance is more crucial than labels.

Now, about the story…

So far, despite the poorly-written dialogues and the sometimes-superficial characters, I love it. I am personally intrigued by the never-ending stream of mysteries and I love how we often doubt certain characters’ motives, encouraging us to not fall for their potentially-deceptive veneer. But, as this game is still unfinished, I don’t know if the conclusion will be profound or disappointing.

In fact, there is a chance I will change my mind about this game once it is completed; I may end up hating the potentially-overdone revelations and I may end up finding certain characters deeper or more shallow than I previously thought.

As I am writing this, I am still on the 22nd chapter of year five, waiting for the next quests. I don’t know how long the devs will take to finish the game. But, I do know it will be long enough for me to change my mind eventually.  

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