A new VTuber scandal has rocked the community, and the secrets that it has exposed shows a larger and darker side of the VTubing community in general.
Several days ago, Kyouka of the Chinese multi-artist and VTuber group Overidea is caught in a massive controversy following an expose posted by Chinese female VTuber Bingtang, exposing Kyouka on multiple counts of sexual harrassment, psychological abuse, and derogatory statements against other VTubers.
The expose, in the form of an hour-long video (originally posted on Bilibili.com but has been deleted, and YouTube mirrors replace them instead) notes the various negative instances Kyouka did, such as hiring prostitutes and visiting brothels–considered a serious crime in China, pressuring Bingtang to angle her content on sexual softcore things because he liked to see her get male attention, forcing Bingtang to collaborate with female VTubers and then collecting their private information, and calling fans ‘ATM/money printer’.
In response, Kyouka hosted a livestream to clear several things, yet fans viewed it as putting the blame on Bingtang and her fans. This has since then angered fans and making Bilibili take action to mark Kyouka’s and Bingtang’s Bilibili accounts as ‘controversial’.
The controversy has not just rocked the Chinese VTubing community, but also the English-speaking side as well, considering the fact Kyouka has been revealed to try and ride the coattails of the Nijisanji English male talents.
What Does The Story Reveal? Sexual harassment and derogatory statement issues have unfortunately become a part of the dark side of the VTubing community, with some VTubers using their anonymity and influence as streamers to coerce others to do favors for them, and then later on to be emotionally manipulated, blackmailed, or even silenced to not have the issues spill over.
Issues like this spark a #MeToo movement across the VTubing community, encouraging talents and fans to be more vigilant against cases of sexual harassment online, and to have the perpetrators take accountability for their actions.
But one of the overlooked issues in the Overidea scandal is how Kyouka has been involved in actions related to abusing the fan loyalty and purchasing power of VTuber fans. In the issue, we hear Kyouka encouraging Bingtang to angle her content to more sexually-driven content to reel in male fans, as well as Kyouka calling his fans ‘money printers’.
According to a report by the South China Morning Post, the Chinese fan economy is estimated to be worth US$5.49 billion in 2019, and forecasted to surpass US$9.42 billion by 2023. This has resulted in massive government crackdowns, which the Chinese government says that the fan industry is full to the brim of issues of fraud, tax avoidance and doxxing.
Many brands, both local and global, have long been observant of China’s growing influencer marketing scene, fuelling more growth to Chinese fan bases as well as revenue growth for businesses (Liang & Shen, 2017). It is unfortunate to hear that the VTubing community is now hearing more cases of abuse against fans, whether by implying to spend more and then merely looking at them as mere ‘revenue generators’.
The Overidea scandal is just a microcosm of the various issues plaguing the VTuber community and shows how fan loyalty can be abused by the streamers themselves to be in their favor and playing with fan’s desire to ‘see more’.