Today, the Army has found itself in a new pot of hot water after a member of the Army National Guard, Axel “ZexsOG” Torres, shouted out an anti-Semitic username live, as first reported by Motherboard. “Yo, six million wasn’t enough, thank you so much for the follow, I appreciate you,” he said.
It was only last month that the US Army esports team returned to streaming on Twitch. They’d taken a monthlong hiatus, prompted by a fairly spectacular meltdown — they were banning people in the chat for asking about war crimes. (Our armed forces are streaming on Twitch because it’s a great place to recruit, in case you were wondering why branches of the military need Twitch channels.)
The clip feels unforgiving, even though it is just basic Twitch protocol to shout out your donations and follows. (Although one would generally hope the mods would ban anyone with that username on sight.) See, Twitch is a mostly inscrutable platform, and some of it is populated by the kinds of people who think a blatantly anti-Semitic username is hilarious.
Motherboard, for its part, got a statement about the whole thing from the Army. “This was an unfortunate situation and goes against the Army values of fostering inclusiveness and diversity. We are working with our volunteers on the [Army National Guard] Twitch Page to educate them on screen names that may have racial or negative sentiment behind them,” Lieutenant Colonel Jamie Alan Davis of the Army National Guard told Motherboard. Davis also said streamers would no longer announce “those types of screen names” while they’re streaming.
Although this isn’t the first brush our armed and streaming forces have had with edgelord humor on Twitch. A couple days ago, Personnel Specialist Brandon Chandler was streaming the recently popular hidden role game Among Us on the US Navy esports team’s channel with some of his “close friends” — with usernames like “Japan 1945,” “Nagasaki,” and “Gamer Word.” Two are references to the atomic devastation of Japan at the end of World War II, and one is a reference to the popular YouTuber Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg calling an enemy player in PUBG a “fucking n***er.” (It’s a meme now!)
Anyway, in the grand scheme of things, this is pretty small potatoes: the West Coast is on fire, QAnon is mainstream now, and the pandemic is getting worse in America even as other countries begin to return to normal — or at least it looks that way from my Instagram feed. All I know is it’s certainly something that America’s armed forces can’t seem to figure out how to recruit teenagers to fight our endless wars abroad without shouting out an anti-Semitic Twitch user!