Culture

This Twitch Streamer’s Apology Video Is A Dystopian Nightmare

The unholy alliance of deepfake porn and apology videos is now upon us, with Twitch streamer Atrioc and his bizarre viral apology video shining a light on the blurred boundaries of AI-generated content.

twitch-atrioc-streaming-controversy-crying-apology-video

Want more Junkee in your life? Sign up to our newsletter, and follow us on Instagram and Facebook so you always know where to find us.

UPDATE Thursday Feb 2, 11.30am: Brandon Ewing has responded to the backlash against his actions and subsequent apology video. He’s announced he’s taking a break from Twitch. Read his full statement here.

The unholy alliance of deepfake porn and apology videos is now upon us, with Twitch streamer Atrioc’s bizarre viral apology shining a light on the blurred boundaries of AI-generated content.

What Is Twitch Streamer Atrioc’s Deepfake Controversy About? 

Brandon Ewing – aka Atrioc – apologised yesterday during his latest stream for buying and watching deepfakes of popular female Twitch streamers from a site that creates sexually explicit AI-generated videos. The well-known Twitch streamer was caught mid-livestream in a recent video with a tab open to the website on his screen.

News spread through the streaming community like wildfire after the snippet of his stream made the rounds on Twitter and Reddit on January 30. Pokimane and Maya Higa, two of the female streamers whose likeness was featured in the deepfakes, have since responded to the news of Ewing’s actions.  

Twitch Streamer Atrioc’s Apology, Explained 

In his apology, Ewing blundered through an explanation of what led him to seek out this disturbing content, while his tearful wife, Arianna Ewing, lurked in the blurry outskirts of the video. “It was one video… and I stupidly left the fucking tab open. It was at 2am… when Ari [his wife] was out of town,” he says. He stammers through a disclaimer that he’s not defending himself (he is) and that actually he does believe this “category of stuff is fucking wrong,” despite actively engaging with it.

Ewing also makes mention of the work he’s undertaken to make women on Twitch feel safer, reminding us that he called ‘booba spam’ “cringe” once or twice. Thanks for your service, sir! (For those fortunate enough not to be across what ‘booma spam’ means, it’s when people spam reaction images when they see boobs. It’s kinda like the modern version of someone saying ‘awooga’ in an old-timey cartoon – it’s awful.) 

Viewers of the apology also endure a run-through of events from Ewing. Apparently after reading endless content about deepfake technology and AI-generated content, Ewing, by his account, clicked an ad on Pornhub and got “morbidly curious”. Keep in mind, even a quick search on deepfakes reveals an array of concerning evidence revealing how the technology is used to violate consent and contributes to the chronic and harmful sexualisation of women. 

Ewing’s actions have sparked some important dialogue around the blurred boundaries of AI-generated content, for sure, but what happens from here? Could this deeply uncomfortable apology – with its many cringey, unhelpful and irrelevant asides – lead to cultural or, even better, legislative changes to address pornographic deepfakes? If not, I’d like 14 minutes of my life back. 

Watch Twitch streamer Atrioc’s apology video here, if you must.