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The silence surrounding Dr Disrespect's Twitch ban is deafening

(Image credit: Dr Disrespect)

It's been nearly two weeks since Twitch banned Dr Disrespect, and the situation is becoming more bizarre with each passing day. Though Twitch typically never comments publicly on bans or suspensions, streamers almost always take to social media to inform their followers and, in some cases, try to control the fallout of being kicked off the platform their entire brand is based on. But aside from a brief tweet and an Instagram post on June 27, Guy 'Dr Disrespect' Beahm and his wife have been completely silent.

The ambiguity of the situation is leading to all kinds of wild speculation.

For one of the biggest Twitch streamers to suddenly disappear without a clear reason is unprecedented. It's even stranger given how within 24 hours of the supposed ban, streamer Shannon ZKiller and esports consultant Rod 'Slasher' Breslau both suggested they knew the reason but neglected to specify what it was (both tweets have been deleted). Since then, there's been nothing. No leaks, no credible sources of new information, and almost no noticeable action from the businesses that Dr Disrespect associates with. For a subculture that thrives on drama, it's unusual.

Doubly so given Dr Disrespect's deep ties to high-profile sponsors. As one of the biggest names in gaming, Dr Disrespect naturally has become a conduit for advertising. Over the years, he's had sponsorships with G Fuel, Gillette, Asus, and Razer. Disrespect still features prominently on Mountain Dew Game Fuel and Roccat's Twitter page. In December 2019, Skybound Entertainment announced it was creating a TV show with Dr Disrespect, and Beahm is also represented by Creative Artists Agency, the Hollywood-tier talent agency that works with everyone from Beyoncé to Will Smith. None of these companies replied to requests for comment from PC Gamer in time for publication.

DrDisrespect's disappearance coincided with an outcry against sexual abuse and misbehavior in the gaming industry. Recently over a hundred people have come forward to share stories of sexual harassment, assault, and abuse in the games industry. Many of those stories, like those about veteran writer Chris Avellone and Ubisoft vice president Maxime Beland have led to serious consequences for the accused individuals. Avellone, for example, was working on several projects that have since cut ties with him. Twitch itself has also permanently banned several abusers named in these testimonies.

An unavoidable guess, and one of the primary rumors, is that Dr Disrespect's ban could be because of something similar. But if that were the case, why would his posse of advertisers and business partners not distance themselves from him?

Maybe the most unusual thing is that Disrespect hasn't used his greatest asset: his 4.5 million fans. Though it's not seen on Twitch as often, influencers have often leveraged their audiences to campaign against unfavorable decisions made by a given platform. During YouTube's "adpocalypse," when advertisers pulled out en masse after a report published by The Wall Street Journal, many YouTubers created videos attacking the publication and YouTube. This, in turn, often encourages viewers to take to social media in their defense.

This is just another layer of mystery on an incident that has so little verifiable truth: Factoring out statements from anonymous sources relayed on Twitter, all we know for certain is that Dr Disrespect's Twitch account is suspended. Twitch hasn't even specified the length of the ban—though its decision to refund subscriptions certainly doesn't bode well.

No news doesn't mean bad news 

The ambiguity of the situation is leading to all kinds of wild speculation. Over on the Dr Disrespect subreddit, fans are posting clips of notable streamers, like Summit1g, receiving donations from someone claiming to be Dr Disrespect and debating over whether it could really be him. The subreddit is home to plenty of theories that range from everything from abuse to an unspecified breach of the multi-year contract Dr Disrespect signed with Twitch in January.

Once you have millions of dollars on the line, then silence should be the expectation and not be seen as unusual and not engender this level of speculation.

Richard Hoeg

With so little to go on, though, any speculation is dangerous. That's exactly the point made in a recent video by legal firm Hoeg Law which covers the verifiable facts of Dr Disrespect's suspension and provides insight into what could be happening. In that video, lawyer Richard Hoeg explains that in suspending Dr Disrespect, Twitch is likely also cancelling the exclusivity contract it renewed with him in March, effectively denying Dr Disrespect the agreed upon payment (Twitch never disclosed the amount, but comparing it to other similar contracts the deal was likely worth millions of dollars). According to Hoeg, Twitch doesn't need to provide Dr Disrespect with a reason for cancelling his contract, but given his status and influence, Dr Disrespect's lawyers would probably seek to dispute Twitch's claim in order to secure some—if not all—of the agreed upon sum of money. 

"Understand that Dr Disrespect is an unusual streamer," Hoeg says. "He is represented by CAA. He is as corporate as you can get in the influencer and streamer space, which means he is functioning as a fairly high-end business. He is getting advice from legal counsel like myself, or like agents, or like anyone else that will talk to him about the very same things that will motivate why Twitch wouldn't talk about anything out in the public—that it can't benefit them. And once you have millions of dollars on the line, then silence should be the expectation and not be seen as unusual and not engender this level of speculation."

Keeping that in mind, it makes sense why Dr Disrespect wouldn't publicly defend himself. But it also highlights the weird tension in the identity of big-time streamers like Dr Disrespect who masquerade as individuals but are, in reality, merely the face of multi-million-dollar businesses. In Dr Disrespect's case, it's a business built on engaging with a community on an hourly basis through livestreams and social media. And now he's caught in the precarious position of being unable to fulfill that obligation to the audience that made him such a formidable streamer to begin with. 

When Twitch suspended him last year for livestreaming from an E3 bathroom, for example, Dr Disrespect barely acknowledged the incident and kept up with his shtick as a brash, over-the-top braggart. During that short time-out, the caricature of Dr Disrespect was still alive and well on various other social media platforms. It wasn't until weeks later, on Beahm's personal Twitter account (which has a far smaller audience), that he apologized for what happened. 

That's precisely why the longer Dr Disrespect's ban continues in silence, the more the illusion of the character starts to unravel. His entire career is based on being a snarky rebel who always has a clever comeback or catchphrase. He even incorporated his extramarital affair into an in-character bit. But his silence, whether it's due to complicated legal reasons or something else, is beginning to tear down the facade.

Steven enjoys nothing more than a long grind, which is precisely why his specialty is on investigative feature reporting on China's PC games scene, weird stories that upset his parents, and MMOs. He's Canadian but can't ice skate. Embarrassing.