Big Tech has been making more and more aggressive overtures over the last few weeks, silencing artists in an attempt to remove their platform. Most of these artists don’t say anything remotely offensive to the average person – but they do draw the ire of alt-left internet trolls who hit them with complaints. From Milo to Sargon, these incidents are fast becoming the norm in the online world, which is why I wrote my article for The Federalist, detailing alternatives to these Big Tech companies.
As it stands, however, these alternatives only offer some solace. These giant mega-corporations operate in oligopolies, huge communications platforms and hardware platforms that unless one is part of the elite already, the barrier to entry is so high it makes it impossible to compete. The fact that they are disregarding free speech to this level, hurting independent artists along that way is so disconcerting because there’s very little that can be done. This is in essence why anti-trust laws are in place, though the government, with so much lobbying money funneling in from these monoliths, is unlikely to do anything about it.
This week we’ve seen further craziness, coming from big entertainment multimedia conglomerate megacorporation Disney subsidiary ESPN. A sports commentator was removed from a football game because he happened to have the name Robert Lee. The absurdity of this grew to something in which everyone’s hear about now – as the fellow wasn’t even white, the primary typical race targets of these removals – but he was an Asian man, of which Lee is a common last name for Asian Americans. In the push to virtue signal, now even minorities are getting hit.
But what drew my attention isn’t that, but it’s small operators that don’t have platforms like jobs at ESPN. The small youtube commentators who are building their followings slowly and surely, and don’t have much of a platform or group advocating for them are the ones in real danger from this Big Tech convergence. And ones that aren’t even steeped in politics at that.
Last night, I saw that comic book reviewer Douglas Ernst had YouTube flag his review for Amazing Spider-Man #31 as “not suitable for all advertisers.” I’ve watched several of Doug’s reviews, and this seems to have started with his calling out some of the Spider-Man book’s absurd social justice signaling, where several issues ago, Spider-Man hesitated in beating up bad guys because he didn’t want to be racist. It was bizarre to say the least to see that in a comic book, and of course Doug readily criticized it, and has criticized much of Marvel’s work.
How does this tie-in to ESPN and big tech? It’s about the trends and how this all fits together in a puzzle. Youtube has been on a spree of demonetizing anyone remotely perceived as right wing, and anyone criticizing SJW standards are perceived as right wing. On top of that, Marvel is another mega-corporate Disney subsidiary, known for their hard push in social justice at both subsidiaries, and recently going hand-in-hand with Big Tech to ostracize any content creators who don’t toe that line. It can appear to the average viewer as if Disney is colluding with YouTube to in this instance to make sure that negative reviews of their products don’t get any traction, by financially harming any reviewers that criticize their books.
I watched Doug’s review of Amazing Spider-Man #31, and I have to say, there’s no swearing, there’s nothing that even could be construed as offensive. It is a pure criticism of the comic book itself (spoiler: he didn’t like it much). The fact that YouTube would flag this is disconcerting, and the only plausible reasons are: 1. Doug is a target of either his personal politics (of which he does tend to lean-right on twitter), or 2. this is a piece of Disney content being criticized, which they don’t want to allow. Either way is very frightening.
What can we do? I’ve mentioned alternatives before, but YouTube, subsidiary of Google, has far too much infrastructure, lobbying, and government subsidies to really have a credible threat rise against them. If Doug wants to have his comic reviews seen, it’s about the only option for an outlet. The long term repercussions of financially censoring artists and critics based on the mores of what the platform believes – whether that be Google or Disney or both – is staggering. It can only harm our culture when only some views are allowed to be expressed.
It was one thing when they came after the alt-right extreme commentators. Then they came after the gamers (PewDiePie!). Then they came after comic book reviewers. How much longer are the people going to put up with this before they come after you?
You can follow Douglas Ernst, who does fantastic comic reviews at: @douglasernst on Twitter, or subscribe to his youtube channel, Douglas Ernst, here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCphr2x8FR96PZexWzamPvkw