Influence is a double-edged sword. No matter how trashy you are as an entertainer, a peripheral maker, or a content creator, 4 million viewers who watch your every move is a very, very huge number.
Guy “Dr Disrespect” Beahm, a Twitch FPS gaming streamer with that many followers and influence, recently shared two pieces of widely-debunked COVID-19 coronavirus media and conspiracy theories with his viewers and asked them to consider “what he’d shown them”.
With a serious non-parodical tone, he did the following (via Kotaku):
- Expressed solidarity with Elon Musk, who previously e-cosplayed as the wrong character from Deus Ex.
- Shared an article from The Hill that talked about “stopping the panic and ending total isolation”, and “open most workplaces and small businesses with prudent large-group precautions” because the virus is only really a danger to a small number of people. The article draws results from a Stanford University study that suggested a much lower death rate than what is widely believed. Unsurprisingly, the article was debunked for failing to account false positives in testing and its questionable patient recruitment methods.
- For the record, Elon Musk tweeted that part of the stream to his many followers.
- Shared a viral video where a doctor named Thomas Cowan made a widely-debunked statement that 5G cellular technology causes COVID-19. While Dr Disrespect said he did not openly agree with the video, he instead said that showing this video alongside the previous The Hill article was what made him upset on the stream.
Regardless of what he showed and whether he disagreed with the news bits, he may have inadvertently instilled a lot of people in the chat to start supporting US president Donald Trump to lift the quarantine and open up the economy again even though the COVID-19 curve is far from gone. He ended the segment with the following quote:
“All’s I’m saying is that, me being about to talk about that, read that stuff, let’s just not be robots and say, ‘Yes sir, we will do everything you tell us to do, government, sir.’ Let’s listen to the experts and… I don’t know.” He also clarified that his intention for the stream was to “get the brain kinda going” and wants people to resume working because he keeps receiving donations from viewers who say they’ve lost their jobs.
He also stated that he is on board with Elon Musk’s mantra of “reopening America”.
“I don’t need Elon to convince me. But to have someone of his magnitude and his expertise—it’s pretty clear that he gets it in terms of humanity and where we’re trying to go… I’m on board with his type of thinking.”
While Dr Disrespect has the right intention to get his 4 million viewers to think about the facts, he does set a dangerous precedent especially when he shapes his message as is. But as to why he chose to do this in this way? It’s not surprising. He is renowned for acting with reckless irresponsibility while streaming, from using racist accents on stream or streaming from a public bathroom during E3.
His schtick of being a rude and loud toxic gamer, while “entertaining” to many for reasons unknown, is taking a dangerous turn here with a pandemic that’s still going on and is worldwide. If he keeps this up, he may start collaborating with Alex Jones and sell male virility supplements in a couple of months.