Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, speaks during a House Judiciary Committee review of the “Protecting Our Children Act” in Washington, DC, U.S., on Thursday, June 2, 2022. ( Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz decided to try his hand at Twitch and was greeted with digital photos of penises and users calling him a pedophile.
The Florida congressman launched his broadcast Thursday with a 30-minute ramble on the Jan. 6 Capitol riots with Darren Beattie, a former Trump speechwriter. In a live recording of Gaetz’s Firebrand podcast, the two discussed Ray Epps, the man at the center of a right-wing conspiracy that claims undercover FBI agents led crowds of Trump supporters to Capitol Hill on January 6, known as as “The Fedsurrection.” The Jan. 6 congressional committee concluded that Epps was just a guy from Arizona with no ties to the government. The broadcast ended with Gaetz criticizing the defunding of the police, the “awakening” in public schools and blaming “The Squad” of four progressive congressmen for just about everything.
Gaetz’s streaming setup resembled that of a Boomer auctioneer-turned-sportscaster wearing clunky headphones, and in true amateur gamer fashion, Beattie joined in with a pair of headphones and a slow internet connection.
The live portion of the stream was barely noticeable, peaking at a mere six spectators.
Then Gaetz logged out. And that’s when digital photos of dick began.
It is common for streamers to leave their chat rooms open to allow their community to flourish while they are still offline. Moderation is usually light and is usually done by blacklisting certain words and slurs.
But this was clearly a bad idea for Gaetz.
The messages started pouring in, with the user saying “LiterallyJustVibingHere,” saying, “hey fucking bitch matt, what’s up you dumbass?” and “stupid asshole”.
Then more creative trolls entered Gaetz’s chat and started typing in ASCII.
At one point, an ASCII AmongUs character with a penis scrolled across the screen, and then some Pepe the Frog with “COCK” written below it, followed by an ASCII Shrek.
The chat also focused on topics directly related to Gaetz, who has been investigated for child sex trafficking and having sex with a minor.
ASCII messages like “GAETZ IS A FART” misled via chat, as well as some saying, “MATT PogChamp GAETZ PogChamp TRAFFICKS PogChamp MINORS PogChamp MATT PogChamp GAETZ PogChamp TRAFFICKS PogChamp MINORS PogChamp.”
PogChamp is possibly the most popular emote on Twitch and a common saying across the internet and gaming culture. It usually denotes an exciting, exciting, or “clutch” moment. But it can also be used sarcastically when people want to “trolley” or make fun of a streamer for doing something wrong.
A new ASCII penis or similar type of art appeared in the chat every few seconds on Thursday afternoon. The ASCII penis photos and attacks on the congressman continued hours after his broadcast went offline and continued relentlessly into the morning, with everything from the more sarcastic “PogChamps” to “ResidentSleepers,” used when a chat considers a transmitter is boring and puts the audience to sleep.
Many of the users and streamers in Gaetz’s chat were apparently “subscribers,” or hyper-dedicated fans who pay a streamer money on a monthly basis for a subscription, of leftist stronghold streamer Hasan Piker. Many were typing Piker’s signature emoticon — an image of him holding a Soviet propaganda-style red flag — into Gaetz’s chat after the streamer had a quick Twitter brawl with the congressman.
“This is certainly what we needed on the platform,” Piker sarcastically tweeted in response to Gaetz’s announcement.
“I agree,” Gaetz tweeted in response. Thanks for tuning in, @hasanthehun. Don’t forget to subscribe!”
Piker, one of the platform’s most popular streamers, who regularly broadcasts political commentary, changed his name to “gaetz pedo fbi research” on Twitter and, at the time of writing, was still visible on the official Twitter account of the congressman.
To keep up the drama, the congressman apparently slipped into Piker’s chat during a live broadcast on Thursday to simply write “America first is inevitable! us” and “MAGA!” in rebuttal to the streamer’s tweet.
“One of your employees is going crazy”, Piker said on Thursday’s broadcast during meat. “I love our wonderful little platform, man.”
Hindsight is 20/20, but it was probably a bad idea for Gaetz to announce his Twitch channel just a day after an investigation by Gaetz. Bloomberg exposed how child predators can use the platform to track children who are streaming.
The chat was also quick to highlight the unfortunate moment.
“I honestly didn’t think it was possible for you to get creepier than you already are,” lazy_lightning_73 wrote just after midnight on Friday. “But then I learned that you joined Twitch a day after Bloomberg published a report on how child predators use Twitch to track and interact with children and teens.
The last week has been a tumultuous one for the platform, starting with the controversy over gambling streams (which Twitch has in turn banned) and ending with allegations of sexual assault between streamers. according to internet culture site kotaku
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