Hate-watching is not a particularly new phenomenon. I’m sure we can all conjure up a scene of an old-timey Shakespeare actor being booed off the stage while the audience runs to the nearest food cart to find something to throw (if you can’t picture this scenario, this Spongebob clip may help).
This 2014 Vice article offers a more modern and simple definition: “hate-watching is watching a show or movie you suspect you will emphatically dislike, for the purpose of being able to talk about how much you disliked it, either during the program (on social media) or afterward.”
Hate-watching is relatively harmless, and often fun, when it comes to TV and movies. Since everyone on the screen is playing a role and we know whatever is happening is fake, we can hate-watch without guilt- after all, we’re not being cruel to real people struggling with real problems. But is hate-watching still harmless when it comes to Twitch streamers?
Twitch (owned by Amazon as of 2014) started as platform for live-streaming video games. Though most streamers still incorporate gaming content or focus on it entirely, categories on Twitch such as “Just Chatting” have led to new types of streamers and content. Streamers cook their breakfasts, clean their houses, go on hikes, or give advice to their viewers live on Twitch. Whether they stick to video games or branch out into other, more personal activities, there is one thing streamers have in common: chat.
Though a streamer’s chat can be tailored (it can be changed to follow or sub-only mode to limit trolling) and is usually heavily modded to rid of highly offensive slurs, many streamers still have to deal with their fair share of hate-watchers, who don’t just watch, but tend to spam their hate in chat, on the streamers Twitter or Reddit, or even in other streamers chats. The hate can range from offensive comments to particularly cruel and personal rants.
To highlight the issue, I’m going to focus on one streamer in particular: Greekgodx.
Greek originally became a well-known streamer by stream sniping other larger streamers such as Tyler1 and Sodapoppin. From here, he eventually built his own audience and following, the GGX gang. At the start of his streaming career, he was over 350 lbs. Even at this weight, he loved having hilarious one-man dance parties on stream, with chat spamming PogChamps of encouragement.
Fast forward to 2020 and, through hard work, diet changes, and exercise Greek has been able to lose over 150 lbs. He was able to move to the US after being invited by Sodapoppin to move in to his streamer house in Austin, Texas (a known hot-spot for Twitch streamers). Things have been going very well for Greek!
Still, despite his success, Greek has had to deal with his fair share of hate-watchers harassing him in chat and across the internet. His haters say that, since losing weight, Greek has gained an ego. They say when he was fat, he was funnier, a better streamer and less annoying. Some of these comments are made in the context of missing “old Greek.”
I think this is a great example of how hate-watching can quickly become harmful when directed at real people, and not just a character on TV. I can’t imagine how mentally and physically difficult it must be to lose 150 pounds, and I can’t imagine how much harder it must be when hundreds of strangers are spamming you everyday saying they liked how you used to be better. This Tweet from Greek himself shows that he has clearly been affected by the hate, but understands that the haters are only trolls, and most of them are probably jealous, or dealing with self-hate themselves. These hate-watchers may or may not understand that when they say “fat Greek was funny Greek” they are hinting that the reason he was funny was because he was fat, which exposes how cruel the comments actually are.
Greek continues to be a positive influence for his viewers who are proud of his hard work, and frequently does on-stream workouts that he encourages chat to do along with him. Though the haters haven’t disappeared, he also has a lot of fans and other streamers who have directly told him how much he’s inspired them and how proud they are of him.
Luckily, Greek has been able to stay strong despite the hate he’s received. I wanted to highlight his story because I see him as a role model for people facing hate on the internet. He has stood his ground, and refused to lower the self-esteem he has built just so random people won’t be able to accuse him of having an ego.
My hope is that Twitch viewers will remember that they are watching real people live their real lives when they watch streams. Streamers aren’t scripted characters, and while they are there to entertain, they don’t have the luxury of having a character or script to hide behind when they receive harsh comments. When you spam a streamers chat with hateful messages, or Tweet cruel things at them, they see it, and they’re only human. If you wouldn’t say what you’re typing to the streamers face, in-person, it’s probably a good idea to not hit send!