The saga of the United States military’s attempts to recruit young people by streaming on Twitch is full of twists and turns. Over the summer, the Army and Navy’s Twitch channels were flooded with messages about America’s copious war crimes, questions that almost always resulted in bans. But since these bans arguably straddled the line of free speech violations, the Navy is asking its streamers to adopt a different tactic when viewers bring up the military’s past atrocities: act like complete fucking babies about it.
Up to this point, the U.S. Army and Navy’s recruitment efforts on Twitch have been fraught to say the least, but over the weekend, the latter courted outright disaster. During a Saturday evening stream of Twitch mega-hit Among Us, players named themselves after America’s atomic bombing of Japan in 1945 and the N-word.
Sam is a 20 year-old college student who says he felt deceived by military recruitment efforts at his own high school. Recently, he found a way to push back. He and dozens of others, spread across a couple of Discords, spend chunks of their day trolling the military on Twitch. They harbor no delusions. They do not believe that branches of the United States military are going to suddenly upend their esports operation and go home. But nearly every night of the week, they still spend hours poking and prodding at the twin bears that are America’s Army and Navy.
The U.S. Army and Navy might have different express purposes and a football rivalry, but they’re united in their shared passion for avoiding talk of war crimes. Soon after the Army took flak for banning viewers who asked about war crimes from its Twitch channel, the Navy is employing a similar tactic.