Fortnite Twitch streamer Tyler Blevins, more commonly known as “Ninja,” has exploded in popularity recently, and his stream with guests like rapper Drake and football star JuJu Smith-Schuster broke viewership records on the website. But Blevins now finds himself in hot water after he used a racial slur during a recent gaming session.
While playing with fellow streamer Matthew Haag, Blevins began rapping the lyrics to Logic’s song “44 More,” and after stumbling over a few lines, inserted the line, “my nigga,” where the original lyrics were supposed to go. Haag can be seen in the video raising his eyebrows in surprise at the line.
Blevins posted an apology on Twitter Thursday morning, labeling the incident a misunderstanding.
“While I am confident that most of this is a misunderstanding, I recognize that it’s my responsibility to never let there be THIS kind of a misunderstanding. More than anything, I hate that any of my friends, fans, or viewers might feel disrespected,” he wrote. Belvins went on to add that he wants people to feel welcome on the stream, and not shut out by language some may deem hateful.
It is my job, and hopefully I’m usually good at it, to make everyone feel welcome, valued, and safe to be themselves. So I apologize to anyone who might feel hurt because I NEVER want that. It’s my stream, and it’s on me to make that right. (Tweet 2)
— Ninja (@Ninja) March 29, 2018
The controversy comes just a little over a week since Blevins was interviewed by CNBC regarding his success and his advice to other streamers. During his interview, he emphasized the positive environment he fosters in his community; hopefully, this will be a one-time mistake rather than a sign of a larger problem.
I promise that there was no mal intent (I wasn’t even trying to say the word-I fumbled lyrics and got tongue tied in the worst possible way). Again, I apologize for offending anyone and appreciate you all rocking with me.
— Ninja (@Ninja) March 29, 2018
Other popular streamers and video creators have come under fire in recent months for their own racist incidents, as well. Guy Beahm, known for his “Dr. Disrespect” character, used a faux-Chinese accent on several occasions when frustrated during PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds matches.
Beahm attempted to downplay the severity of his remarks in a later stream, pointing out that is wife comes from a Filipino background. Jimmy Wong, known for his work with the Polaris video network, pointed out that his comments represented a pattern of behavior rather than an isolated incident, and that he had been more heavily criticized for admitting to cheating on his wife than he was for his language.
PewDiePie called an opposing player a racial slur during his own Battlegrounds match as well, and has shown a pattern of offensive behavior in the past — including antisemitism, which resulted in his YouTube Red original series being canceled. Following the incident, Firewatch co-director Sean Vanaman began filing copyright claims against PewDiePie for his videos of Vanaman’s game, calling him a “propagator of despicable garbage.”
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