YouTube SuperChat and the Significance of Ironic Nazism


When does tolerating pro-Nazi hate speech become complicity?

YouTube’s SuperChat function has unquestionably been a boon to livestreamers. “SuperChats” are essentially premium text messages, which pin the buyer’s post to the top of the chat for a period of time so the streamer and other viewers are highly likely to see it. The creator gets a cut of the money from each SuperChat they receive, and the user gets the thrill of interacting directly with their favorite YouTuber. Some creators use SuperChat for karaoke sessions, or as a way of taking Q&A from their audience. However, some alt-right/alt-lite YouTubers like Blaire White, Roaming Millenial, and Laci Green have lately been receiving SuperChats from anime internet Nazis, who are willing to pay 5-15$ to pin the fourteen words, swastikas, holocaust jokes, etc. at the top of the chat.

Let me be clear that the shitlords who tend to receive these pro-Nazi SuperChats are not themselves self-affirmed white nationalists. The ones willing to talk to me about it tend to write these messages off as “edgelords”, and rigorously note that they can’t control who chooses to send them SuperChats or what those messages are gonna say. Roaming Millenial in particular scoffed at my suggestion of turning SuperChat off to avoid accepting money from Nazis whom she assumes are just kidding around, anyway. Why should they have to give up hundreds of dollars of income per stream session to block a few pro-Nazi chats?

While I’m sympathetic to their plight, I don’t think receiving pro-Nazi superchats is quite exactly like “other people spamming mean things in chat”, which is how apologists tend to defend this. Unlike an unmonetized Tweet, comment or chat, these YouTube streamers directly profit from pro-Nazi SuperChats. I also can’t help but notice that these allegedly ironic Nazis only seem to “raid” streams whose creators are already more than a little sympathetic to their views. Only creators willing to play along with this 4chan Nazi bullshit seem to have this problem.

The problems with 4chan’s “ironic” Nazi culture should be self-evident, but just in case they aren’t, allow me to spell a few of them out. Suggesting Hitler’s rise to power was good for anybody involved exposes one’s ignorance of history and facts. “Jokes” about the Holocaust at the expense of murdered Jews, gays, mentally ill are only funny if you agree that these people really are subhuman. Memes that really suggest you think Nazis are super-geil and worthy of emulating is the free speech of a depraved sociopath. A culture of “jokes” that normalize and elevate Nazi aesthetics and rhetoric is fertile ground for actual white nationalist recruiters, who use it as a smokescreen to critical scrutiny.

Once YouTube creators accept these people’s money to pin pro-Nazi hate speech on the top of their chat, they are a little complicit in that speech. There’s no way to “ironically” get paid by Nazis to borrow one’s platform for a few minutes, and SuperChat is always an optional toggle. Or, these creators could stop making content designed to appeal to white nationalists eager to pay them to say things they wanna hear. But given how alt-right and alt-light streamers seem to need SuperChat to make their streams economically viable, that seems very unlikely.