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Pokimane Breaks Down Her VTuber Controversy

When it comes to streaming, there are few figures as popular as Imane Anys, better known as Pokimane. Despite her popularity, the YouTuber is no stranger to controversy. Pokimane received her first and only ban from Twitch when she was still on the platform earlier this year, effectively creating a new meta where popular streamers are temporarily banned for DMCA violations only to come back to a massive amount of hype and viewers. Some thought the incident unwittingly influenced Twitch to keep other streamers on a tighter leash when it comes to DMCA-related issues. An even more bizarre controversy involving Pokimane came earlier, in 2020, when she temporarily transitioned to being a Vtuber in which she no longer appeared physically on screen and was instead represented by a digital avatar.


Pokimane received tons of backlash to this change from those who accused her of attempting to capitalize on the growing trend of Vtubers during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The streamer's Vtuber phase didn't last long and the virtual avatar was only used sparingly afterward (via Dexerto). Two years after the incident, Pokimane has addressed the controversy and the thinking behind it.

Pokimane blames gatekeeping for the Vtuber backlash

In a recent appearance on the Trash Taste Podcast, Pokimane addressed the backlash regarding her brief transition into being a Vtuber. "I think people were just mad because I think a lot of people were used to being mad at me, if that makes sense," Pokimane said. "And then I think some other ones, there's probably like a little bit of a gatekeeping thing, partially understandable, where they're like 'we don't want you to ruin this sacred community we have.'" According to the streamer, the idea for the transition was due to both her finding Vtubers to be a cool concept and being a fan of anime art.


In recent times, Vtubers have become somewhat of a fad within the streaming and content creation community. Cereal mascot Tony the Tiger of Kellogg's Frosted Flakes fame recently got the Vtuber treatment by being featured on the brand's official TikTok page, and even getting his own Twitch channel. As noted by the Trash Taste Podcast, popular anime streaming service Crunchyroll even has its own Vtuber for marketing purposes. Outside of corporate advertisement, other streamers, such as IronMouse and Corpse Husband, have long used virtual avatars to mask their real identities.