The Unfortunate End of the ContraPoints Saga

Critics won, but it’s unlikely the battlefield is rife with much loot.

Unsatisfied with whatever explanation ContraPoints had for her gaffes in recent months, the anti-Contra mob can finally settle for a swift, but bittersweet victory after Natalie Wynn finally gave up on maintaining a presence on Twitter due to the ensuing harassment. The announcement came after Wynn was forced to endure hordes of dissenters all focusing on trivial aspects of her YouTube content and social media presence, and to the disappointment of many — myself included — the purported empathy of leftist Twitter did not bear itself out as it was the main culprit in denying Wynn and many of her supporters a peaceful presence, thinking that coercively submitting to their every whim is somehow indicative of good praxis.

How we got from ContraPoints being the undisputed champion of minorities online to now becoming a notoriously-hated figure by the fringe crevices of political left Twitter isn’t all that immediately obvious–though, it follows a similar pattern seen from much more popular creators wherein being more present in the limelight exposes them to much more criticism, to the point where considering that much of it at once becomes a hindrance to the creative process.

Natalie ‘ContraPoints’ Wynn was slowly starting to dip her toes into being principally disagreed with as soon as she started to gain mainstream recognition, with a Verge article by Katherine Cross describing her as the “Oscar Wilde of YouTube” fighting the fierce winds of far-right extremism with “decadence and seduction”. The article — while generally flattering of Wynn’s methods in adopting feminine aesthetics to counter the patronizing harshness of the far-right — was but a mere convenient framing device for media, who’s always looking for a compelling story, in which the heroes and villains are clearly defined. ContraPoints served as a good candidate for the former, especially seeing as how trans representation in online media was confined to the narrow realms of being its own punchline up until that point. There was a noticeable shortage of trans presence, especially on platforms like YouTube, where the topic wasn’t strictly that of the trans experience or intrinsically tied to Beauty YouTube in some way. Wynn changed that by making intersectional analysis of the downtrodden’s woes a focus of her channel, regardless of how much they stray away from the cisgender binary.

It wouldn’t take long for Wynn to get exposed to much-loathsome backlash after the increased exposure she got from fans and dissenters alike. While fans remained largely-appreciative of ContraPoints’ content, dissenters were starting to harbor a distinct hatred for all that relates to BreadTube — the term denoting the progressive cohort of political YouTubers online — precisely because her face was starting to become analogous with the YouTube subculture for many. It was perceived by the ardent left as an affront to their righteous claim for a YouTuber who’d be willing to overstep the boundaries of identity politics well into the extreme–Natalie Wynn, who repeatedly kept having to deny any claim to messiahship, was ordained that responsibility anyway. That made her an easy target for harassment groups to rally against, and it made criticisms of her content much harder to distill as they kept being reiterated well-through unduly exhaustion.

The first culprit for ContraPoints’ — perhaps intentional — continued misunderstanding is a qualm with how she addressed non-binary issues in the past, precisely in the context of trans and non-binary inclusive spaces where she has to announce her pronouns and reassert her gender expression with little regard to what such a necessity entails. It didn’t help that a great chunk of it was more about monolithizing the non-binary experience, rather than figuring out the shades of grey lying in-between. That started a snowball effect wherein criticism of Wynn’s ideas was getting inextricably tied to her as a person, and subsequently caused her to deactivate her Twitter account in early September to cope with the unconscionable volume of discontent. To remedy the situation, Wynn hired a social media manager to foot the responsibility of her Twitter presence, which she then reassumed with their help in early October, hoping that the backlash would die down to such a point that she’ll be able to productively use the platform again.

Little did Wynn know that would only expose her to further ire, as a several-second cameo by controversial trans activist Buck Angel would yield her one of the darkest moments in her online presence, wherein she’s declared a transmedicalist — a term describing those who root trans identity in medical procedure — just by virtue of collaborating with Angel. If you’d seen the fires burning in the village from afar, you’d think her actions were akin to that of a regular day for serial trans offender Mitch McConnell, but now, this was against who many consider their primary gateway into progressive politics.

This backlash in particular donned many Gamergate-like qualities. Gamergate, self-adorning the duty of enforcing “ethics in game journalism”, motivated by the thorny trappings of group identity, turned out to be but a thinly-veiled racist and misogynistic hate campaign against those most-vulnerable in the gaming industry. Similarly, ContraPoints’ dissenters took her few questionable statements and extrapolated them into an overarching thesis where BreadTube is performing a platform-wide grift to scam leftists out of their money and attention. The problem is, it doesn’t factor much of the systemic disadvantage BreadTube already has against the right, who’ve had much longer and tacit support from the hate-coddling algorithms of YouTube to further their own brands in service of nefarious hateful ideology. BreadTube is already playing at a disadvantage, and seeing how it’s being beaten down by whom it’s supposed to cater to is a little disheartening.

Embattled with the swing of blades from every which way, ContraPoints’ reputation is likely to survive the ongoing assault despite how big it’s made out to be. The main question now is how will it affect the tone of her content–will she double-down on making a mockery of her critics, or will she try to use their furor in rallying support behind her and her colleagues? To me at least, the latter seems like a much more direct and effective approach. The time for jests is just about done, and as opinion-change-prone as her dissenters may appear, it looks as though nothing will dissuade them from thinking Wynn’s main preoccupation is personal gain, despite ample proof to the contrary.