I’ve never written a YouTube comment in my life. Although this is not a fact about me that I’ll likely include on my resumé, I think that a lot can be said for people who actively dwell within the ever-surprising, often-offensive dungeons that are YouTube comment sections.
As the most popular site of its kind, the video-sharing platform plays a part in the life of nearly everyone on the planet with access to the internet. Whether you simply hop on the site to occasionally peruse though old Vines or count yourself as a religious follower within Shane Dawson’s 16 million member audience, YouTube’s influence increases with each passing year due to how all-inclusive its content manages to be.
Looking for rare Joy Division interviews? No problem. Searching for hip-hop podcasts that promote obscure rappers? Absolutely. Have you ever seen that documentary about people who believe they’re actually wolves? There goes an hour you will never get back.
From ASMR roleplaying to nightmare-inducing animated shorts, YouTube holds everything for everyone. The site equally appeals to the least discriminating viewers and most obscure niches imaginable — internet bloodsports make up one such niche.
Now some of you might be asking yourselves, who in their right mind would watch anything called a “bloodsport” on the internet? Well, it may not be as bad as it sounds, but it is fascinating nonetheless.
If you can imagine a version of reality TV that primarily appeals to people who frequent 4chan or write Encyclopedia Dramatica entries on a daily basis (for those who aren’t familiar with the site, picture a completely NSFW version of Wikipedia), you will probably gain a reasonable understanding of what internet bloodsport videos offer in terms of themes and overall substance.
While an exact definition does not exist, to my knowledge — obviously, Merriam-Webster won’t have the answers to this one — internet bloodsports mostly consist of YouTubers who engage in “debates” over Google Hangouts. The topics of these debates range from the featured creators’ opinions on the current political state to exposing petty drama about the parties involved. There’s no blood involved: It is simply a war of words.
Mister Metokur, a championed voice and crowd favorite associated with the internet bloodsports community, released a video earlier this year summarizing the purpose of these events. “It’s a format—an outgrowth of the typical YouTube streams that have existed for a long time,” said Metokur.
“Instead of the [intellectual] debate between two opposing forces who bore you to sleep and act like the living version of Ambien, internet bloodsports instead seeks to entertain you. It is the Jerry Springer of YouTube content… It’s popcorn entertainment.”
How did I find out about these bloodless, livestreamed squabbles? Like any other worthwhile discovery, I accidently stumbled across it and proceeded to spend several days immersed in the culture to comprehend what type of hell-like cesspool I’d just wandered into.
To me, internet bloodsports embody the feeling of watching a slow-motion car crash — you know you should turn away, but it is just so horrifically eye-catching, you’re unable to focus on anything else. And trust me, bloodsports are no less horrific.
To describe the community and YouTubers involved in the scene as politically incorrect would be an incalculable understatement. The majority of creators involved are outspoken supporters of the alt-right or proudly anti-SJW, meaning that any sort of regard for nondiscriminatory language and viewpoints get tossed directly out the window.
Unfortunately, anyone searching for a soft-spoken, well-rounded debate will find themselves suitably nauseated within the first several minutes of the chronicled livestreams, many of which span well over two hours.
Additionally, the guest stars are not any less eyebrow raising. Controversial political figures such as Richard Spencer, the White Nationalist poster boy, and alt-right activist Laura Loomer have both been featured in the past, in addition to Tim Gionet — better known as Baked Alaska — a far-right Twitter personality who marched alongside neo-Nazis at the Charlottesville rally last year.
To be clear, I adamantly disagree with the ideologies and political viewpoints of the individuals involved in the internet bloodsport world. The purpose behind this article is simply to call attention to a phenomenon that I personally find interesting.
In short, bloodsports symbolize the absolute best and embarrassingly worst aspects of the internet experience by solidifying the statement that everyone can have a voice and find an audience. The idea that people will watch complete strangers scream at each other for hours is indescribably surreal, and when you toss racist trust-fund kids and closeted pedophiles into the mix, it becomes nearly impossible to believe that these types of people actually exist in the real world.
Nevertheless, if bloodsports possess any sort of morally redeemable qualities at all, it would be to function as a cautionary tale for future generations. They serve as a reminder that everything on the internet lasts forever.
Once you put your words out there, you cannot take them back. While there is a certain amount of anonymity to hide behind online, you still leave a permanent legacy for yourself — a legacy completely left up to the interpretation of whoever accidentally stumbles across it.
Furthermore, to a certain extent, internet bloodsports offer a counterargument to the current political climate. Despite the mass attempt by the general public to bolster equality and increase understanding across races, cultures and classes, you will always have people who simply do not care or outright disagree.
Consequently, the notion that society will simply evolve past its flaws is an unachievable goal. Therefore, the best that you can do is to render conflicting opinions contrary to the societal norm as unpopular or ignorant, but even then, there will always be a platform for an audience to go against the grain and speak out on what they believe to be true.
Or maybe that’s just me attempting to derive meaning out of something utterly worthless. Popcorn entertainment or not, internet bloodsports look like they’re here to stay, though I hope that it’s a trend that will bleed out soon.