Pink capitalism and monetising hate: Shame on You(Tube)
‘Tis the month of Pride. The month where demonstrators – without irony – demand a ‘straight-pride’ (no, I’m not joking) while a lesbian couple was left bloodied after refusing to entertain a group of men’s porn-related fetish. Where debates about how oppressed or how ‘lucky we are’ circulate the internet, while – according to The Trevor Project – queer youth seriously contemplate suicide at almost three times the rate of heterosexual youth.
In the midst of this whirlwind, of identity politics and straight people feeling left out, are the companies who see financial gain from our support. Who do nothing all year to support LGBTQ people in need, but heroically change their social media profile picture to include the rainbow flag.
A slew of corporations have hopped on board the idea of ‘Pink capitalism’ over the last few years – effectively boosting profits by turning Pride into a marketing campaign.
Unsurprisingly, YouTube is one of them.
But when Carlos Maza, writer for VOX, spoke out about the constant harassment, homophobia, and racism directed at him on comedian Steven Crowder’s videos – referring to Maza as an ‘Anchor baby’ and ‘Lispy queer’ – YouTube’s measly response showed how transparent its ‘inclusive’ logo is. YouTube ignored its cyber-bullying policy which clearly stands against ‘hurtful and personal comments’ and continued to allow Crowder’s video to continue making AdSense revenue.
“While we found language that was clearly hurtful, the videos as posted don’t violate our policies,” YouTube contradicted itself in a statement, causing outrage from thousands of Twitter users.
One week later, plans to demonetize Crowder’s video surfaced, while YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki issued an apology: “I am truly, truly sorry. I know it was hurtful to the LGBT community. That was not the intention.”
But even if YouTube shut down all the homophobic channels – a wild concept – its decision to defend homophobia, ignore its own policies and simultaneously act as if it cares about LGBTQ rights, makes one thing clear: YouTube cares about money. Not Pride. Not us.
So, instead of reaching out to queer content creators to feature in your annual Pride video – which maybe, just maybe, you produced to make money and polish your reputation – why not actually be an ally to the queer community?
Because pink capitalism does have the potential to do (some) good. These giant corporations have the privilege to make hefty donations to LGBTQ charities, they could hire queer people and allow them to organise events and talks during Pride month, they could sit down and listen to queer people, and understand how hate speech has been used against us throughout history.
Most of these businesses could even afford to withdraw their services from countries where homosexuality is illegal and actually show solidarity, but instead, they choose to spice up their logo with the rainbow.
It’s unsettling to think that these companies are fooling people into thinking they care, when all they’re doing is turning our passion for progress into a commodity.
Which is why it’s important to support queer individuals and small businesses during Pride. Buy their Pride-flag badges and t-shirts, donate to their GoFundMe page to help pay for medical treatment, and help them if they’re at the receiving end of harassment and intimidation.
Because this is not the first time YouTube has pissed our community off. Back in March 2017, the company came under fire after being accused of restricting the visibility of videos relating the LGBTQ topics.
“We are so proud to represent LGBTQ+ voices on our platform – they’re a key part of what YouTube is all about. The intention of Restricted Mode is to filter out mature content for the tiny subset of users who wants a more limited experience. LGBTQ+ videos are available in Restricted Mode, but videos that discuss more sensitive issues may not be. We regret any confusion this has caused and are looking into your concerns. We appreciate your feedback and passion for making YouTube such an inclusive, diverse, and vibrant community.”
Which of course, very few people bought, with celebrity musician Dodie replying: “You’re blocking everything with any hint of lgbtq+ – videos of me swearing aren’t restricted but transwomen makeup tutorials are. Come on YouTube! You have one of the largest platforms in the world. You could change the world for the better!”
I’m not sure whether YouTube has the power to change the world for the better – but they could at least make a start by not letting people call us ‘lispy queers’.
Shame on You(Tube).