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Hobby Drama


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Posted by5 days ago

So. Kpop. A lot of people here are more or less familiar with it, or at least its drama.

But what about the rest of Korea's music scene? Let's take a look at hip-hop. I won't bore you with the history of hip-hop in Korea, if nothing else because it's been covered elsewhere far better than I ever would.

Let's fast forward to 2012 instead. MNet, a protagonist of many a drama here, decided to try something new, a show called Show Me The Money. If one were to describe it, one could simplify it with a combination of American Idol's audition format, the mentorship of established artists of The Voice... And make it all about rappers and hip-hop, with the focus being on original music/verses. And it worked. The show has been going strong for 10 years, churning out hits and household names over and over. But! Something was noticeable from day 1. Something that plagues hip-hop on a global level.

It was a sausage fest. Female rappers did appear, sure. But they were few, and eliminated before the biggest showings the show would offer. And so it still is.

Come 2015. Another MNet producer decided that maybe it was time to give the women of Korean hip-hop the spotlight. So Unpretty Rapstar was born, a survival show where female rappers would compete for a spot in established producers' songs, with some eliminations thrown in. Season 1 could be its own write-up, but let's fast forward to season 2. Season 1 ended on a high note, propelling its participants to stardom so of course a new season was made.

Now one of the first challenges in the show is the one-take music video (not actually recorded in one take) for the show's theme song. You might notice that one voice stands out in some group segments. That belongs to Truedy, a contestant that stood for her blasian looks, similar voice and rap flow to the legendary Korean female rapper Yoon Mirae, down to the same Korean-American accent, something the show milked for sympathy points showing rappers reacting to her songs with asking if it was Mirae, and Truedy crying at the constant comparisons.

Truedy also has the longest verse of the song (awarded to her by a vote by the other contestants), where she mentions "the first black people born in Korea". Some people began wondering if Truedy was, in fact, Black and Asian like Yoon Mirae herself is, even if that one line didn't make sense even if she was.

This is hobby drama. You, dear reader, know where this is going. No, Truedy is not black, something she would admit herself. While the linked tweet is now gone, the captions with the text remain, giving you most of the information needed.

This didn't sit well with a lot of people in the English speaking community. She went from a well liked contestant to public enemy one in the show, and eventually it reached the Korean side, enough that one of the other contestants, Gilme, would call her out for basically trying to build a career out of cosplaying Yoon Mirae during one of the show's many diss battles.

In the end, despite all this, she did retain some fans, and was the eventual winner of the season, which some people suspected was rigged due to her being under an agency that was an alleged subsidiary of MNet. Not that the win did her much good, as other contestants went on to have more visible and profitable careers, the treatment of one of them being ripe for a post of its own.

Nowadays, Truedy is still active, still releasing music, albeit with a different look that while no longer Yoon Mirae cosplay, did remind a lot of people of Jessi, a fan favourite from season 1 of Unpretty Rapstar.

Some people never change, I guess.

Posted by5 days ago

Content warning: Plane crash (no deaths), profanity


On December 23, 2021, a daredevil YouTuber by the name of Trevor Jacob released a video titled I Crashed My Airplane. It quickly became the most-viewed video on his channel, amassing over 2M clicks. The video, about thirteen minutes long in total, features Jacob flying alone in a vintage single-engine aircraft. About a minute into the video, the aircraft engine malfunctions. Jacob shouts, “holy fuck - I’m over the mountains and I fucking have an engine out!”, before proceeding to open the door of his plane and parachute to safety. The plane falls to the earth, less the pilot, and Jacob lands in a pile of scrub. Before you read this article - I would encourage you to watch the first five minutes of the video and keep the events in mind as we discuss them. It is also worth looking at the comments which, as to be expected, are both incredibly toxic and very revealing.

The video went viral, and aviation enthusiasts immediately started to ask questions. Why was Jacob wearing a parachute on a routine flight? For that matter, why were there so many cameras mounted on the plane at suspiciously convenient angles? Why didn’t he simply try restarting his engine, which would have been an immediate instinct from a qualified pilot? The video drew heavy suspicion from the piloting community, who asserted that the video was staged and Jacob intentionally allowed a plane to crash into a National Forest for the purpose of gaining YouTube views. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would come to agree with the community’s assessment of Jacob’s egregious airmanship. This man had, as far as aviation authorities were concerned, crashed his plane deliberately in the name of going viral. To understand Jacob’s rise to glory, fall from grace, and how aviation authorities determined it to be a wanton ploy for attention, let us conduct some air crash investigation work and deconstruct Jacob’s story.

I would not like to be sued, so I should also include in the summary that Jacob maintains his innocence to this day and continues to insist that his actions were completely justified by his in-air emergency.

Who is Trevor Jacob?

To describe Trevor Jacob in favorable terms, one might say that he is a polymath of daredevilry. His career is founded on extreme sports. Jacob first became noteworthy in 2014 when he participated in snowboard-cross for Team USA at the Sochi Winter Olympics. He would compete again in the X-Games during the 2015 and 2016 seasons, but shortly thereafter he fell from the higher echelons of competitive snowboarding. Around that time, he began to upload much more frequently to his YouTube channel. The channel features videos of himself participating in a range of Extreme Sports such as backcountry snowboarding, skydiving, BMX, and survivalism. Most of his videos at this time received little attention - a few thousand views with an odd viral success here or there. His channel slowly grew over time, though, and had over 100,000 subscribers when his infamous video was posted in December of 2021. Jacob was, of course, also a private pilot and was credentialed to fly small airplanes. He even posted a video in March 2021 titled “I Brought My Dog Flying (Bad Idea)” in what would end up being a moment of grave foreshadowing,

The important airplane stuff

Jacob’s plane, a 1940 Taylorcraft BL-65, was relatively spartan as far as aircraft go. Describing the detailed specs of the airplane would be tedious and unnecessary, but imagine something very similar to a Piper Cub (or, perhaps, something slightly smaller and much older than a high-wing Cessna). A stereotypical private pilot’s airplane, if you will. The plane is built simple-as-they-come, with a body constructed from fabric stretched over a metal skeleton. The instrumentation is, for all intents and purposes, the minimum legally required. Since we will be discussing the failure of Jacob’s engine, it would be worth noting that the name “BL-65” indicates that it is a Model B airplane with a Lycoming 65-horsepower engine.

Like many of the time, the engine in this airplane has to be “hand-propped”. This somewhat scary-looking process involves an individual putting their hand on the propeller and coercing it manually until the engine kicks into action on its own. Without going into technical detail, this was also required for many cars of the time, and was a result of electric starter systems not being widely available.

The events of the crash

The day is November 24, 2021, a beautiful sunny day at a small airfield in the central South of California. Trevor Jacob does a “walk-around” of his plane, a mandatory pre-flight inspection of the equipment to ensure that it is in good working order. Satisfied that his plane passes muster, Jacob lines up with the runway and takes off. As his small plane slowly climbs above the beautiful tree-covered hills and scenic lakes, the cameras mounted to his airplane record the serene view. He turns towards Los Padres National Forest and proceeds on his way. Ostensibly, this was a standard flight being conducted with the valid purpose of enjoying and recording the beautiful California landscape.

Somewhere over the forest, though, disaster strikes! His engine has gone out.

Well.. to call an engine failure a “disaster” would be hyperbolic. Of course, no pilot ever wants their plane to malfunction - but an engine failure is a practiced event and every pilot has gone through the motions of learning how to recover from it. In a plane like Jacob’s, a competent pilot might pitch their nose down slightly to allow the wind to spin their propeller (emulating a “hand-prop”) before following an itemized start-up procedure. It isn’t an easy task, especially in the heat of the moment, but a stalled engine certainly shouldn’t inspire the paralyzing fear of an imminent crash. If all else fails, the pilot is instructed to find the “most suitable” landing zone and attempt to glide the plane down gracefully.

Jacob disagreed. Assumedly seeing it as his best chance of survival, and with no apparent attempt at restarting the engine, he hurriedly opens the door of his plane and jumps out. The plane glides down to the forest below, leaving a mangled heap of fabric and metal. Jacob lands alongside, safely, in his parachute. After six hours of trekking the wilderness, he finds a local farmstead and is rescued by the farmer.

Here is where the story begins to get suspicious: Before the FAA had a chance to investigate the crash, Jacob had the wreckage immediately removed from the site. The specifics of this are still unreleased, but the FAA claimed in a letter to Jacob that “[he] recovered and then disposed of the wreckage”, a behavior suspicious enough to warrant a specific mention. He also took all of his cameras from the site before the FAA had a chance to review the footage.

Approximately one month after the crash, Jacob posts the video I Crashed My Airplane to his YouTube page. He is met with criticism and suspicion from the aviation community, to the point where he eventually disables comments on the video. Now, pilots are known to be daredevils themselves… The community enjoys a good video of a plane landing in heart-pounding wind conditions and loves a miraculous mid-air recovery. But they draw a sharp line between “brave, heroic piloting” and “foolish, inadequate airmanship” - a line which they largely felt Jacob had crossed.

The key points of suspicion

Upon watching the video, experienced pilots began to feel that Jacob had crashed his plane on purpose. They drew up a list of observations from the video which, in their mind, collectively pointed to the fact that Jacob had planned to jump out of his plane from the moment he got into it:

  • First and most damning, his decision to wear a parachute on this flight in particular. It would be considered strange for a pilot on a routine sightseeing flight to wear one. They are bulky, uncomfortable, and almost strictly unnecessary in the capacity at which he was flying his plane. Even in the most dire of circumstances, a pilot in his situation would have been trained to find a suitable “compromise” landing point and glide to safety - and certainly would not be trained to jump out of the plane, thus leaving an unmanned missile of fabric and gasoline careening towards the woods.

  • The cameras. Many pilots have cameras mounted to their planes, so that alone isn’t suspicious. However, the cameras were mounted at the perfect angle to capture the propeller failure and his subsequent jump. Again, this isn’t a nail in the coffin on its own, but rather seems to tip the other factors over the edge of suspicion. Furthermore, he had in his possession a selfie stick, which he used to film a POV as he jumped. Naturally, in an emergency, the first thing any reasonable pilot would reach for is a selfie stick.

  • There is staggeringly little time between his apparent realization that the engine has stalled, and his subsequent jump. At no point in the video does he appear to attempt to follow any emergency procedures for restarting the engine, nor does he inform Air Traffic Control of the situation over his radio. Pilots have designated radio procedures for declaring emergencies, and it would be an example of extremely poor airmanship (if not outright negligent) to eschew the practice of declaring an emergency. There was no immediate threat to his life - as in, the plane was not mere seconds from hitting the ground. He certainly had plenty of time to declare his situation, which also would have increased his chance of being rescued had he indeed needed to land the plane in the woods. And, again, he chose to use his "final moments" to grab his selfie stick.

  • Finally, the FAA declared in their letter to Jacob that it appeared the left door had been unlatched before the supposed emergency occurred. I am not personally familiar with this aircraft, so I can’t speak to where in the video this becomes apparent… But you wouldn’t drive with your car door only halfway shut, would you?

The FAA would find all of these points to be valid. Any one of them is not a red flag, but together they began to tell the story of a conspiracy to make a viral video.

In response to the critique, Jacob maintained that he “didn’t think that just posting a video of an adventure gone south would ruffle so many feathers.” He also felt that “the aviation community has been pretty tough on me, so I’m thinking about quitting altogether and giving up, just because I’m hated.” Incidentally, in his not-an-apology video, he was wearing a black tee shirt which read “ALWAYS WEAR YOUR PARACHUTE”.

The Aftermath

Naturally, Jacob’s pilots license was revoked. In a scathing six-page letter to Jacob, the FAA made their position very clear: “On November 24, 2021, you demonstrated a lack of care, judgment, and responsibility by choosing to jump out of an aircraft solely so you could record the footage of the crash.” Technically, Jacob is allowed to petition for his license to be reinstated in one calendar year - but as he said himself, he is quite the pariah in aviation culture - and many pilots would be happy to see him hang up his pilots hat and return to his other extreme pastimes. Many of the comments that remain on his video advocate for everything from permanent revocation to jail time. Meanwhile, Jacob maintains his innocence and, as video footage suggests, still sits behind the yoke of his plane - assumedly with his buddy serving as the Pilot in Command.

Posted by5 days ago

A good day to all who read this, my first full write up! Sorry for any format/spelling errors as I’m on mobile.

A bit of background: GamesWorkshop (or GW) is a model and games company that among other things produces Warhammer 40,000, a very popular sci-fi tabletop wargame, characterized by its over the top, grimdark setting where the most morally good faction are a strict military dictatorship that rebelled against their leaders and fucked off on their own and humanity has regressed into a theocratic and xenophobic parody of fascism.

each army has a codex, which contains the rules for the model range. These are released throughout the edition of the game and at the time the Leagues of Votann were going to be the newest codex released. The Leagues of Votann (henceforth LOV) are an army of high tech space dwarves which are pretty cool imo.

There was the slight drama caused by the usual dimwits who think anythingNorse/Norse themed is racist (which while being vastly untrue, also is in the same universe where the ‘protagonists’ are a hyper xenophobic and theocratic fascist empire)

The real drama however stemmed from the army rules in yet another example of GW’s tenuous grasp on the concept of game balance, which compiles most of the most hated rules in the past 5 or so years into one book. See, in 40k there several steps you must take in order to damage your opponents. First, you roll to hit, then you roll to wound, then your opponent rolls their armor save/invuln save and then damage is allocated.

Rolling to wound is based on the strength of the weapon being used, versus the toughness of a target. The way it works is equal strength/toughness is a 4+ to wound, lower strength then toughness is a 5+ (unless toughness is double the strength, then it’s 6+) and higher strength then toughness is a 3+ (unless strength is double toughness, then it’s 2+). Basically it means that your tough units will be pretty safe from low strength shooting.

Enter judgment tokens, the LoV special army mechanic. You can stack up to 3 tokens on a single enemy unit, and they allow you to automatically wound on a given dice roll. (1 token, 6+ autowound, 2 tokens, 5+ autowound, 3 tokens, 4+ autowound). This is problematic given it means high toughness units are extremely vulnerable to low strength firepower that’s easily spammed (for reference on how nutty autowounds can be, a army build for the space elf eldar that autowounded on 6’s was absolutely broken.)

Furthermore, these judgment tokens are very easy to get. Your opponent doing basically anything means you put judgment tokens on that unit. This includes killing a LoV unit, holding an objective to score points, completing an action to score points, or even in some cases literally dying. That’s not to mention that you have commander units that can give out judgment tokens and a sub faction that has a strategem (basically once per turn abilities you can buy using your pool of something called command points) to get an extra token, on top of counting all units with tokens as having 1 extra token.

Also, unlike similar rules like markerlights in the tau army (which allow you to gain +1 to your hitrolls for one unit per turn per markerlight after completing an action, especially hurtful against LoV) judgment tokens don’t go away at the end of the turn, they stay the entire game, or until the judged unit kicks the bucket. (Even then, it’s possible to transfer these tokens to another unit)

If that doesn’t already sound like bullshit, there’s more! Some weapons have abilities that trigger on an unmodified wound roll of a 6 (say you roll a 5 but you have +1 to hit so technically it’s a 6 but it’s a modified 6). Sone weapons in LoV have this ability, but I won’t get into that just yet. You know those 4s to autowound? Those count as unmodified 6s for the purpose of special rules. You heard it right folks, modified 6s now count as unmodified FUCKING 6s (if you can’t tell, I was a little heated When I originally wrote this).

That brings me back to the LoV weapons that have abilities triggering on 6s. One of these is the ion blaster on the basic troops which has a strategem that allows you to turn any 6’s you roll into mortal wounds (which cannot be saved by normal armor or invuln saves, only rare feel no pain saves) to a maximum of 6 mortal wounds. This means a very cheap troop unit is capable of punching way above their pay grade. This gets even worse when you put it on the tank absolutely loaded with ion weapons)

Before I mention the next weapon, I have to mention another fundamental game rule broken by LoV. Excess damage does not carry over, with the exception of 2 weak weapons in the entire game of 21 factions. Basically, if your shoot a gun that has 4 3 damage shots in to 15 1 wound models, you don’t kill 12, you kill 4. Except on this new gun, the magnarail rifle, which on a wound roll of a 6 (but actually also a 4 or 5 cause fuck it) the already high damage spills over. Ie if you roll 9 damage (the max amount) you either do 9 wounds to a tough target like a tank or you kill 9 weak 1 wound models, making it a gun terrific at killing both infantry and hard targets, which is iirc unprecedented.

Also, this gun ignores invuln saves, which are special saves that can’t be modified (the way armor saves work is you have the base armor save, say a 3+ And it’s modified by the AP Value of the attacking weapon. Ie an AP2 weapon into a 3+ save becomes a 5+ save. Normally invulns are only ever 4+ or higher, but a few 3+ and one 2+ invuln exists. Basically it provides strength against high ap attacks, (and you pay a premium in points for it) But the magnarail rifle stomps all over that, and is a cheap upgrade that you can add to your troop units.

the codex was so bad in release form that the major tournaments in Germany were preemptively banning Votann from play, before the vast majority of the model range was out.

all was not lost however, and in an unprecedented move GW released a day zero balance update, hitting every unit by at least 20% and removing the ability for autowounds to count as 6’s (Detailed in this r/Warhammercompetitive post) along with this rather funny apology Video.

the full LoV army range dropped and they have hit tournaments, debuting with a healthy 50% winrate, judgement tokens remaining strong but not broken.

overall, im glad to see GW actually listenEd to the playerbase and took their feedback into consideration. From my understanding, ten years ago the idea of GW actually doing this would make the majority of players laugh themselves to tears. While GW has whiffed some things recently rules wise (they released a rather lackluster balance update that didn’t really change anything, even for the armies that they hyped up that they were buffing. That whole deal might end up in scuffles as it doesn’t warrant a full post) the next two codexs after LoV have been pretty well balanced, one unit being an exception. All in all, I’m optimistic towards the future.

Posted by7 days ago
Gold2HelpfulBravo Grande!2

CW: Discussion of alternate/real life identities of VTubers, suicide ideation, harassment

On February 24, 2022, amid everything that was going on in the world, Twitter was ablaze with the news that the Hololive VTuber Uruha Rushia, the top earning YouTuber by donation, was kicked out of Hololive two weeks after a Discord message was accidentally shown on her stream. This marks a sad culmination of a drama that strikes at the heart of what it means to be a VTuber.

That is a lot to take in for a casual observer. Just who is Rushia? What is Hololive? What even is a VTuber?

VTubers: virtual characters but real YouTubers

VTubers, short for Virtual YouTubers, are video content creators who use an animated avatar in lieu of their real faces. While there is considerable variation to VTubers and their content, the most popular VTubers today tend to be real life streamers playing fictional anime-esque characters. To borrow a term from professional wrestling, VTubers generally operate under a closely guarded kayfabe in which the association between the actor and the avatar are deliberately—often contractually—obscured.

The history behind the practice of VTuber kayfabe has been given better treatment than I ever could in this subreddit and I’d direct the reader to that post if so interested. For the purposes of the topic at hand, I’ll note that the identity crises of Kizuna Ai and her peers in 2019 cemented the idea that despite the loose association between the avatar and the actor, it is the actor (the “soul”) that is deemed the most important part of a VTuber. Far from Ai’s creators’ visions for an “eternal idol” where the actor is diminished or even replaceable, it is now the norm for the VTuber character to be retired along with the actor in the modern VTuber landscape.

VTubing demands a suspension of disbelief. Everyone involved in the experience, be it the performer or the audience, knows that there is a real human being behind the VTuber character, and not, say, a 3500-year-old female dragon. A good VTuber is one who is able to own the character either by becoming the character or by making the character part of their own identity— it really doesn’t matter which is the case. The “immersion” aspect of VTubing offers the viewer an escape from real life into a virtual world where made-up characters play video games, fool around, sing, and interact with the audience. In this line of thinking, VTubers are conceptualized as being fictional anime characters, similar to earlier virtual idols like Hatsune Miku.

It’s often said that a streamer acts differently on and off stream. VTubing makes the two faces explicit, with the on-stream face given its own avatar and makes it into a whole new separate identity. By doing so, VTubing divorces the streamer from their past histories and their real life circumstances, distilling the streamer’s voice and personality into the VTuber and rendering immaterial everything else. Instead of being bound by their real selves, the VTuber can focus on presenting themselves as who they want to be. Ironmouse is a great spokesperson for the benefits of VTubing in this regard: since she suffers from a condition that renders her bedridden and on oxygen in real life, VTubing lets her live a virtual life as a lively pink-haired demon instead. Similarly, VTubing helps transgender persons transition ceaselessly from their physical selves to how they actually wanted to present and identify themselves. Less dramatically, but no less importantly, VTubing allows women to divert attention from their physical appearances and just side-step a lot of misogyny on the internet. Indie VTuber Kson, for example, has said VTubing makes it easier for her to stream since she doesn’t need to put on makeup and can just focus on streaming her personality.

So, VTubing can be a liberating experience for the streamer, but at the same time they need to navigate the expectations of the audience who are here for the fictional roleplay experience. VTubers are often discouraged from “breaking immersion” by showing too much behind the veil of VTubing. Sometimes there are conflicts between what a streamer wants to do and what the audience imagines the character to be, ie. there could be something that the streamer does that the audience considers “out of character”, despite the streamer practically “owning” the character. This is to say the streamer is not completely free from societal expectations, whether it is from fans or from the copyright holders of the characters.

Hololive: idols but not idols

Essentially, a VTuber is made of three parts: the actor, the avatar, and the rigging. The avatar is what the viewer sees on stream, the character art. The rigging is what translates the actor’s facial expressions and body movements into the avatar. In the olden days, VTubing required significant infrastructure: motion capture suits, specialist cameras, studio space, 3D animation software, and so on. This means VTubing was the exclusive realm of tech companies and hobbyists, who have the resources for those things or make up for it with abundant enthusiasm. In those predominantly male spaces, they would try to play the anime girl themselves (with or without a voice changer) or put out casting calls for female talents who are willing to try out the then-new technology. (Playing as anime men apparently wasn’t an attractive option in those early days.) This is how many of the big corporate names in VTubing started, and they retain a domineering influence in the industry. Even when technological advances have significantly lowered the barrier of entry for VTubers nowadays, companies are still attractive to both fans and streamers alike for their production values, their marketing reach, and their support network.

Cover Corporation is one of those old guards of VTubing, having been established in 2016 with a focus on augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies. In 2017, they debuted the VTuber Tokino Sora and the real-time AR streaming app Hololive, which eventually became the name of the agency of VTubers under the Cover Corp. umbrella. According to company lore, Tokino Sora was a high school student who aspired to become an idol and needed studio space, which led her and her friend A-chan to Cover where they convinced the company’s CEO, Motoaki “Yagoo” Tanigo, to try producing idols. In reality, Hololive did not have an explicit “idol” branding until mid-2019 (Sora being the notable exception), and Cover, like many of its peers in the industry, tends to hire streamers with a proven track record as content creators as opposed to aspiring idols. In order to set themselves apart from the competition, Hololive began to brand itself as an idol agency in what’s been memed as “Yagoo’s dream”. This meme comes from a panel he attended in 2019 where he compared Hololive to AKB48, Japan’s premier idol group. The comparison being made here was that Hololive, like AKB48, was a group of talents being managed by an agency as opposed to Kizuna Ai, who was the singular focus of her parent company Activ8 at the time. The internet, of course, clipped this part this out of context and ran with the idea that Yagoo wanted to make Hololive into the virtual equivalent of AKB48, calling it “Yagoo’s dream”. For better or for worse, Hololive talents became scrutinized as idols with AKB48 as the standard.

By packaging its streamers as idols, Hololive attached itself to the expectations of “idol culture”. Japanese idols long held the image of being pure and untouchable. While Japanese society has moved beyond forcing idols to choose between career and marriage (like the early examples of Momoe Yamaguchi and Seiko Matsuda), idols generally continue to perpetuate the illusion of being available to the fans and do not disclose their romantic relationships. Most notably, AKB48, themselves a trendsetter in breaking the “untouchable” aspect of idolhood, has a stringent dating ban, as horrified global viewers came to understand when member Minami Minegishi was caught spending the night with a male companion and had to tearfully apologize on television while getting her head shaved. Stalking is another issue, as several high-profile incidents in recent years have shown the absurd and brutal lengths that a crazed fan can go.

Hololive seemed to have bypassed those dangers. Through VTubing, Hololive’s idol dream is one not bound by age, looks, or real life circumstances. The anime avatar becomes the public-facing idol while the actor is kept anonymous and hidden from public view—even though they play as idol characters, they themselves are not idols and are, in theory, not bound by the norms of “idol culture”. These virtual idols need not even be focused on typical “idol” activities like singing and dancing, they just need to be entertaining and “bring smiles to people”.

This proved to be a winning formula, with Hololive’s first full-roster idol concert in February 2020 hailed as a major success, drawing in new venture capital which saved Cover from the brink according to Yagoo. With heightened popularity and stable finances, Hololive was well-poised to take advantage of the world situation in 2020 and emerged as arguably the most recognizable company in VTubing.

Rushia: the “girlfriend experience”

Hololive’s pivot to idols seemed to have coincided with the debut of Hololive’s 3rd generation in the summer of 2019. The 3rd generation, also called Hololive Fantasy, in addition to having a well-rounded roster of entertaining personalities, had a tight bond reminiscent of an idol unit that was quite unprecedented in Hololive. This generation, consisting of Usada Pekora, Uruha Rushia, Shirogane Noel, Shiranui Flare, and Houshou Marine, would go on to become known as the “miraculous 3rd generation”, being the most successful generation in Hololive’s Japan branch, and arguably defined Hololive’s image and marketing strategy. The drama we’re about to dive into centers on Uruha Rushia from this highly successful generation.

Uruha Rushia made her debut on July 18, 2019. She, along with her genmate Usada Pekora, was specifically scouted by Cover Corp, unlike the rest of the 3rd generation who auditioned for their roles. Officially, her character is a green-haired “necromancer from the Underworld Academy who is not good at communicating with people,” and from the day she debuted, viewers were enamored by her soft breathy voice and her timid demeanor. As time went on, a side of her quite opposite to her perceived character would begin to show: on one hand, she became known for her bouts of rage where she would produce death metal screams; on the other hand, she would become “overly attached” to her viewers and act jealous if her viewers were found to be watching other girls’ streams. Rushia had also shown that she could be clumsy, careless, and technologically inept at times. While these made for endearing moments, put a bookmark on it because it turned out to be a fatal flaw.

Taken together, Rushia gained a reputation around some parts of the internet as a provider of the “girlfriend experience” (GFE). She shaped her persona somewhat as a “yandere”, not only by embracing the violent imagery of that trope, but also by sharing her thoughts that were at times intimate and at times downright concerning. She fostered intense “parasocial relationships” between her and the viewers, defined as “one-sided relationships where one party invests significant time, emotions, and/or money towards a persona that is largely unaware of the other’s existence.” VTuber viewers, generally anime fans who were no strangers to such relationships as loving fictional “waifus” is also a form of parasocial relationships, found entertainment, solace, and companionship in streamers such as her especially in the age of the pandemic where normal social relations became severely limited. Unlike streamers such as Ludwig who quite forcefully declared “I am not your friend”, Rushia committed to the parasocial bit, even going as far as making engagement rings as part of her merch. Over time, Rushia amassed a following of fans (called “Fandeads”) that includes what’s known in idol terminology as “gachikoi” and “unicorns”. Gachikoi are those who are seriously and unironically in love with the subject of their fancy, and “unicorn” are those who do not want to see their idol interact with people of the opposite sex (so named because unicorns dig virgins). The more extreme ones among them are associated with acts alluded to in the last section. Rushia, seemingly safe behind the dimensional barrier and anonymity afforded by her virtual persona, did little to dissuade this group of fans.

By early February 2022, Rushia had around 1.5 million subscribers on YouTube, making her the sixth most popular Japanese VTuber at the time. If it sounds like Rushia became successful due to her girlfriend act alone, be assured that that is not what I am saying—she was good at both her roles as an idol and a streamer, producing genuinely good songs and legitimately entertaining streams for her audience. What made Rushia stand out amongst her peers was that, partially due to her catering to the parasocial relationship crowd, the Fandeads were willing to shell out inordinate amounts of money for her through merchandise and by Super Chats (what YouTube calls stream donations). Uruha Rushia was (and still is) the world’s top Super Chat earner at $3.2 million according to Playboard, nearly a million dollars ahead of the next still-active YouTuber, her genmate Usada Pekora. Even compared with Twitch streamers, she would rank as the top women earner by donation, and amongst the top 10 overall. It was clear that the fans adored her. But did she love her fans back?

Mafumafu: the asexual “boyfriend”

Despite outward appearances, Rushia was not in a good place by the end of 2021. Hololive Fantasy’s first concert on November 25, 2021 had been a massive success, but it came at a significant personal cost to Rushia. While she was rehearsing for the concert, her pet hamster and one of her two cats passed away. The show must go on, she figured, and kept this a secret from everyone until the concert was over and she couldn’t hold it any more. Eventually, she broke down crying on stream and confessed that she was diagnosed with depression. At this point she probably would’ve benefited from a mental break, but she kept streaming regularly with her emotions seemingly kept in check.

On February 10, 2022, Rushia was collaborating with Hololive member Sakura Miko for a Grand Theft Auto Online stream when, halfway through the stream, a Discord notification showed up on screen. From someone named “Mafumafu”, it read:

“I’m finished with my stream and I’m getting ready to come home, Miichan!”

Mafumafu is a famous internet singer and music producer. Miichan is an affectionate nickname for the actress behind the Rushia character, Mikeneko. The internet deduced that Mafumafu messaging her like that must mean the two were living together. It did not take long for viewers to react: the GTA session itself was raided by cheaters to the point that Rushia and Miko could not continue. The two ended the stream and took the video archive offline, but viewers had already taken screenshots of the Discord message and posted them to Twitter. From there, news of the incident spread and discussion about Rushia and Mafumafu trended on Japanese Twitter for at least two days straight.

What made this such a scandal was because Mafumafu was no simple internet singer. He is what’s called an utaite, who are internet singers that cover existing songs (like from Vocaloids) and upload them onto Japanese video sites like Niconico. Utaite steadily grew in popularity throughout the 2010s, and it should be noted that many among Hololive’s roster were at one point utaite. Mafumafu had gotten so popular as an utaite to the point that Japan’s public broadcaster NHK invited him to perform at the annual New Year's Eve television special, the Kouhaku Uta Gassen, in 2021—such an honour is only reserved for the top performers in the Japanese music industry of the year. Other than singing, he’s also known as a Vocaloid producer, song composer, and founder of his own virtual youtuber agency. Needless to say, as a fairly big internet celebrity, his fanbase is massive, dwarfing that of Rushia’s. And, like Rushia, he publicly avoids interacting with members of the opposite sex in a non-professional setting, appealing to a crowd who is in their own "idol culture" (EDIT: see the clarification in the comments for this point). He explained that he literally does not understand the concept of love and has trouble feeling attraction, which some people take as a sign of asexuality. Such declarations only fed into his fans’ fantasies. It was hence no wonder that his fanbase did not take the news well.

Hold on, you might ask, how does one Discord notification prove anything? In fact, this was not the first time that Mafumafu was suspected of being in a relationship with Rushia’s actress. In 2018, before Mikeneko became Rushia, the internet linked her and Mafumafu together via their social media posts showing they shared similar furniture and eating utensils. This by itself was fairly weak evidence, and Mafumafu laughed it off at the time. Further evidence came when Rushia accidentally showed her Discord interface on stream showing that Mafumafu was in her contacts. With the latest Discord message being shown on stream, internet sleuths at last found their smoking gun.

The initial reaction to the revelation was as you’d expect: Shock, disbelief, and anger from the fans of both parties who felt being lied to. Some posted receipts of how much merch they bought and how many super chats they sent. Some cried: “I even got the engagement ring binding us for life!” Some expressed disappointment and declared they will no longer support Rushia or Mafumafu any more. Some Mafumafu fans took aim at Rushia for stealing their man and vice versa. Merch of the two started showing up on online reseller sites at a discount. Some even contemplated suicide. And with all the hubbub, there are of course drama tourists who watched the meltdown unfold with popcorn in hand, sharing screenshots in schadenfreude and even joining in the fray to troll the fans.

There are also those who genuinely wished the two well. After all, if the speculations turn out to be true, Mafumafu and Rushia would be the Japanese internet’s latest power couple, a union of a top utaite with a top Hololive Vtuber! Those in this camp tend to be more critical about “idol culture” — Should the two put their personal lives on hold just because they are ostensibly idols? Is it realistic or moral to expect the image of purity that idols project as a job should extend to their real lives? Is it really love if you can’t bear to see your idol happy with someone else? “No!” These people on Twitter rallied themselves around the newfound couple against the gachikois and unicorns. Intense discussion about “idol culture” flared up on Twitter, not only in Japanese, but also in English as well.

The support is all well and good, but is that what Rushia and Mafumafu want?

Korekore: the drama Youtuber confidant

This is not the first time one of Hololive’s talents accidentally showed something on stream that led to rumours of them being in a relationship. Cover Corporation’s usual way of handling this is to put the talent’s activities on hold and make only brief statements until the drama dies down. This was unpalatable for Rushia for reasons that we can only guess at. Maybe it had to do with the fact that the Discord leak happened after midnight at the start of a long weekend in Japan and Cover could not respond quick enough; or maybe she could not stand watching her fanbase in open revolt and thought she needed to quell the rumours or at least explain her side of the story. Whatever the reasons, in a decision that would cost Rushia her career, she decided to bypass Cover management and talk to an old acquaintance of hers, the notorious drama YouTuber Korekore.

Korekore is often described as the Keemstar of Japanese YouTube, but personally, I think that is underselling Korekore a bit. He’s known in the Japanese media as the “Bunshun Cannon of Youtube”, referring to an infamous Japanese tabloid known for explosive career-ending exposés. As internet content became more and more popular, Korekore’s channel gained notoriety for his ability to cover topics that traditional media could not or chose not to cover, whether it be internet celebrity drama or small business scams. Whistleblowers and victims of various injustices found in him a platform to air their grievances, and Korekore, with his brash yet evidence-based presentation style, would blast scandal after scandal to his 1.6 million subscribers on YouTube, often making his stories trend on Twitter and reach mainstream news. Korekore had caused careers to end, relationships to fall apart, and people arrested. This time, he had his sights set on Rushia and Mafumafu.

Approximately one day after the Discord leak, Korekore made an unscheduled stream to talk about the Rushia–Mafumafu situation. After giving a brief overview of the drama so far, he explained that he had known the actress behind the Rushia character since their days on the Japanese video platform Niconico in the early 2010s. According to Korekore, they had drifted apart over the years, but in late 2021 Rushia contacted him out of the blue to ask if he knew anything about Mafumafu’s history with women because she was on the verge of dating Mafumafu. Korekore says he wasn’t able to provide her anything, but since they’ve reestablished contact, Rushia would ask him for advice about her job and she would wish him a happy new year at the turn of the year (This would turn out to be important.) When the Discord leak happened, Rushia got in touch with Korekore to tell her side of the story:

  • She's not living with Mafumafu.

  • Mafumafu’s Discord message was him telling Rushia he is going home soon so they can game together (presumably online).

  • Mafumafu calls her Mii-chan because that’s what she told him to call her by.

  • She has not talked to Mafumafu since the incident other than to apologize to him for the trouble.

  • Their relationship is only to the extent of playing Apex Legends together once or twice per month.

  • Because Mafumafu is so nice to her, she has started to entertain the idea that he’s only so nice to her

  • She’s told Mafumafu about having feelings for him and they’ve gone out to eat together after that, causing her to like him even more and to further misunderstand that the feelings might be mutual.

  • She’s thought about disappearing for good

Her story aligns with Mafumafu’s Twitter statement that he is not living together with Rushia and only messaged her so that they could game together. To prove that he did not make everything up, Korekore produced evidence that he was actually in contact with Rushia’s actress, namely a screenshot of Rushia talking to her manager, and a photo of Rushia’s room that she provided to prove she wasn’t living with Mafumafu. (These were later edited out of the stream archive.)

Throughout the stream, Korekore paid lip service to the Vtuber fandom etiquette of not connecting Rushia’s character with the actress (though he slipped up and showed the name Mikeneko once). His viewers did not show the same courtesy—during the call-in portion of the stream, they bluntly referred to Mikeneko by name to push a conspiratorial read of the situation that they forced Korekore and Rushia to address.

Based on what the Japanese internet knew of Mikeneko before she became Rushia, they came up with an alternate narrative: Rushia showed Mafumafu’s Discord message on purpose. The GTA5 stream was unusually set with DVR mode on, allowing viewers to pause and rewind to the moment in question while the stream was still ongoing. Additionally, Discord has a streamer mode that automatically hides notifications when it detects streamer software running, so how could Mikeneko, with streaming experience over a decade, allow this to happen? The online narrative paints Mikeneko as a manipulative woman who allowed the message to show on screen to force Mafumafu to come out about their relationship so she, described as “beyond marrying age” in real life, could get hitched with a dreamy pop star on the rise. Because, you know, the simple explanation that she’s just careless and not good at technology isn’t spicy enough for armchair detectives.

Rushia, through Korekore, explained that she had asked her manager to set up the GTA5 stream for her since she was busy and was not aware that the DVR mode was on. This wasn’t enough for Korekore’s viewers and he pressed Rushia to elaborate. Her response was, “Please stop. I am sorry. I am falling apart. I can’t. I will consult my lawyer. Sorry, I won’t say any more.”

It doesn’t take a lawyer to tell you that talking to Korekore was not a good idea. If she was just venting to a friend, she could not have picked a worse person to confide in. If she wanted to quell the rumours about her and Mafumafu, she did it in a very public way that linked her real life persona with the corporate character and didn’t really convince her doubters anyway. If she wanted the storm to die down, Korekore’s viewers made sure the story stayed trending on Japanese Twitter. Korekore himself cashed in on the situation by uploading his old Mikeneko drama clips and a fake collab song with Mafumafu onto his channel.

Rushia, like all Hololive talents, is contractually bound from linking their characters to their real selves. She did just that through Korekore in front of a live audience of 100k viewers with receipts to boot. Worse yet for her is that Mikeneko has had a documented history of being involved in drama due to her long career as a Niconico streamer that is thinly veiled by her virtual Rushia avatar (but frankly an open secret to those in the know). Korekore’s stream and the resulting online discourse ripped that veil to shreds and exposed Mikeneko’s past to the general public. Not that there is anything too terrible she did, mind you (she’s often the victim if anything), but it paints her as someone who is easily baited and actually mentally troubled, and not presented as part of a character.

#WeLoveRussia: we don’t actually love Russia

Rushia would tweet for the first time since the leak on February 13, in a quite concerning manner:

“I can’t eat or sleep. I have trouble walking. All this fabricated information makes me want to die right now. I haven’t had a good rest in days and my judgement is impaired. I am begging you, please stop talking about things that never happened.”

This soon-deleted tweet naturally got fans very worried, and in response they advocated for the invasion of Ukraine started a hashtag to tell Rushia how much they loved her. They shared their favourite moments of her, drew supportive fanart, and told her that they don’t care about what’s going on in her life, they just want her to come back happy and healthy. The hashtag was trending globally for days in hopes that their message would reach her. It was a wholesome campaign of support, only marred by some people somehow mistranslating the name “Rushia” into English as “Russia” and made the hashtag #WeLoveRussia trend globally under Politics. Considering everything else that was going on in the world, this was not a good look. Thankfully, nothing of essence actually resulted from the mishap. Not even the Russian propaganda machine took notice of this hashtag coming out of Japan. It was for the best – the Hololive fandom didn’t need another geopolitical incident to deal with at such a critical time.

An official statement about the situation from Hololive would come on February 14. I quote:

Regarding the incident surrounding the talent belonging to our company, Uruha Rushia, the private life of the talent is left up to the individual. We, as COVER, do not interfere with our talents’ private lives. In addition, due to the slander and defamation that accompanied this case on various social media platforms, not only Uruha Rushia herself but also other talents within our company have suffered harsh emotional stress. We ask that you refrain from further misinformation and harassment.

We are currently discussing internally on how to respond to the series of incidents involving the talent Uruha Rushia, as there has been an outburst of misleading information to third parties, as well as a leakage of information including those of fellow business correspondents.

The statement was largely received positively. It reaffirms Cover’s position that longtime Hololive fans already know: there is no dating ban in Hololive (other than between management and the talents). Cover was not going to punish Rushia for being in a relationship with Mafumafu if that’s actually what’s happening. Rushia also tweeted that day, promising to speak up once her mind and body has recovered. The end of the drama seemed to be in sight, and soon, it was hoped, she could be back like nothing happened.

That was the last time Uruha Rushia tweeted as that character.

Mafumafu, who had gone on hiatus since the Discord leak, streamed on February 19 to try to disprove that he and Mikeneko were living together. He produced chat logs from 2018 that showed the first time he talked to Mikeneko in private was when she apologized to him about having similar furniture as his and making the internet misunderstand. He then apologized to his fans for not being upfront about hanging out with women. The viewers weren’t convinced: disproving events in 2018 does nothing to resolve the drama in 2022. They asked for Discord logs; Mafumafu said he can’t show them. They questioned him on whether he and Mikeneko are dating; Mafumafu gave no answer and ended the stream.

Three hours later, as if to respond to Mafumafu, Mikeneko would stream as well. It was short, only 30 seconds in length, where she, clearly not in a stable state of mind, sobbed while saying "It's cruel, everything's so cruel! Please look at your phone...Goodbye." This was all very concerning. It was as if all the support from around the world still couldn’t manage to pull her from the depths of her mind.

Mikeneko: no longer Rushia

The final blow came on February 24, 2022. In a press release, Cover Corp. announced that Rushia’s contract has been terminated.

Regarding "Uruha Rushia," it has been apparent for some time that she has been distributing false information to third parties and has been leaking information, including communications regarding business matters. [...]

With respect to the above, we were able to confirm that she engaged in acts that: violated her contract by leaking information that she acquired from the company as well as communication over SNS, both of which she has a responsibility to protect, and caused the company to suffer reputational damage, such as by publicizing falsehoods various related parties. As a result, we, as a company, have determined that it has become difficult to continue managing and supporting her and have elected to make this decision.

If you remember the previous statement from the company, it would seem that Cover had found that the source of the leakage was none other than Rushia herself. Bear in mind that Cover owns the VTuber characters and has full access to their social media accounts, which makes any investigation of Rushia’s communications trivial. This decision was not hard to understand in light of what Korekore revealed (though some still held onto the hope that Korekore made it all up), but it was still no less shocking. After all, Cover had just fired the company’s (and all of YouTube’s) top earner by donation and fractured the “miraculous 3rd generation”. Was Rushia’s transgression so serious that it warranted all this, without even giving her a second chance?

Cover wasn’t going to break their own NDAs by elaborating what communications and falsehoods were leaked by Rushia. But if Cover wasn’t going to elaborate, Korekore would. Not only because he’s a drama chaser who thrives on controversy, but also because he started getting death threats from overseas Hololive fans who blamed him for Rushia’s termination and he felt the need to defend himself.

In his stream after Rushia’s termination, Korekore defended himself from allegations that he revealed more than he should and caused Rushia to be fired. While acknowledging that he played a part in Rushia’s termination, he says the only thing that he showed on stream that he was told not to show was the pictures of Mikeneko’s room proving she and Mafumafu weren’t living together. Everything else that he showed, including screenshots of her chats with her manager, did not come with that warning. He also revealed, with screenshots, that Mikeneko contacted him in November to complain about alleged bullying she had suffered at work that wasn’t resolved satisfactorily by management according to her. And that, if she were to disappear as a result, she wanted Korekore to reveal everything so that “they can all suffer.” (Korekore adds that he finds no evidence of her allegations.) Come 2022, Korekore mentioned on stream that Rushia wished him a happy new year, giving off the impression that they had been in contact. This came to Cover management’s attention, who cautioned her not to talk to drama channels like Korekore.

In summary, Rushia was found to have talked to Korekore about unfounded allegations of bullying in the company, was warned about talking to such characters, and then continued to talk to Korekore about her relationship with Mafumafu. All while violating her contract for the world to see. Not only was she shown to be a careless talker, she was also characterized as a vindictive traitor. The Hololive fandom, who were largely on her side by this point, turned on her. After all, if she was found to have said this much to a drama tuber “so they can all suffer”, who knows what else she might have leaked? For a few months the internet would accuse her of leaking all sorts of dangerous personal information about her former coworkers until she put out a statement denying the “they can all suffer” part was about her former colleagues in Hololive, that she still loves Hololive and its members, and that she didn’t leak anything other than her chats with her manager. She specifically denies spreading falsehoods as characterized by Cover’s termination announcement, but Cover stands by their statement. This is where things stand in terms of events that led to her termination.

All that’s left about the story of Rushia’s termination is the sad denouement. Rushia’s channel was set to be shut down with all her videos deleted at the end of March. The Hololive Fantasy concert that she contributed to at a tremendous personal sacrifice would not see a Blu-ray release, not to mention all the ongoing projects that now had to be cancelled due to her departure. Her genmates would spend months reeling at the loss of a member and the broken image of “3rd gen unity”. Rushia’s termination spooked Hololive members as a whole, since all it took to derail the career of a top performer in their company was a badly-timed Discord notification.

Mafumafu posted on his blog two days after the announcement that he and Mikeneko have agreed to cut contact with each other for the sake of their own futures. In June he went into hiatus for health reasons that, he would explain three months later, were caused by ongoing harassment that started at the beginning of the year.

The fans of Rushia who did not become disillusioned at her actor’s actions rushed to Mikeneko’s personal Youtube channel such that it gained 500k subscribers in a week (now at 841k subscribers). They continued to shower her with love, to the point of designing and rigging her a new VTuber model free of charge so that she could continue VTubing. However, she gained a toxic reputation from the drama that attracted trolls wherever she went. She tried streaming Pokemon and Genshin Impact, and both times she was thwarted by trolls from those fandoms hellbent on keeping her from “tainting” their game, going as far as stating their express purpose was to make her (TW:)kill herself. If only there was a way for her to start afresh. Yes, it turns out, there is! She was picked up by an American Vtubing group and was given a new VTuber identity that she performs under to this day.

Postmortem for a necromancer

What are we to make of Uruha Rushia, after all that’s said and done?

Through her “girlfriend experience” content as a VTuber, Rushia found unparalleled success on YouTube. She attracted a fanatical audience of “gachikoi” whose support predicated on the illusion of availability behind an anime mask. That mask and illusion turned out to be much more fragile than she thought. As former fans turned on her, she tried to save her career, but in doing so she gave her employer cause to terminate her contract.

Cover’s repackaging of Mikeneko as the Hololive VTuber Uruha Rushia was so successful that audiences were unaware of, willing to overlook, or even fully embracing of Mikeneko’s personal faults. As evidenced from their Valentine’s day statement, Cover treats their VTuber characters as separate from their actors who are free to have their own private lives. At the same time, a good streamer makes their streams feel organic and personal, which is somewhat at odds with the founding principle of VTubing: to live life as another character. Mikeneko straddled the line between her two personas while giving an authentic experience to the point that even she herself did not see a meaningful distinction between the two, and in doing so became hopelessly entangled by the multiple facades one has to maintain as part of VTubing, idol culture, and real life society. It is thus a tragic misstep that led Mikeneko to link her professional and private identities by having Mafumafu on her professional account in the first place; followed by her trying to reassure Rushia’s fans through her personal (non-professional) connections. As a result, she lost both her professional career and her personal friends. Perhaps her decade-long career as a streamer and her profitable style of VTubing had made her prone to seek validation from the internet masses first and foremost. If that’s the case, Mikeneko herself is no less a victim of online parasocial relationships.

Despite the promises of a virtual life separate from the real, VTubing remains grounded in reality with all the issues that come with it. It could not solve the problems of real life—the best it could do was put a mask on.

Posted by7 days ago

Ah, curling, that sport you take a brief interest in every 4 years at the winter Olympics and then forget about until the next. The history of curling dates back to about 16th century Scotland and used corn brooms to sweep the ice, allowing the stone to travel further and straighter. The sport has come a long way, having its first appearance in the Olympics in 1998, also the year that snowboarding and women's hockey was introduced.

But this drama doesn't go nearly that far back, or that far wide. No, this drama takes place right here in the USA, going back no more than a few years...


To begin this story we first need some administrative background. Curling in the United States is largely overseen by USA Curling (USAC), the National Governing Body. As such, they collect dues from member clubs and in return provide services such as competitive events (hosted by member clubs), a high performance program, a SafeSport program (think Larry Nassar), insurance, and other national and club level benefits.

Aside from USAC, member clubs may also pay dues to a Regional Association. Some of those regions are Minnesota, Wisconsin State, Mid-America, and Grand National Curling Club . There are 10 in total, but today we'll mostly be focused on Grand National Curling Club, or GNCC.

GNCC is the regional association for most of the Eastern United States and makes up the oldest and largest geographic region, stretching from Maine to Florida (backstory on the "National" moniker here). In addition to the benefits clubs can get from USAC membership, GNCC member clubs are offered insurance, stone rental (huge for smaller clubs, curling stones are not cheap and can pose a significant hurdle to the genesis of a new club), and a non-negligible bonspiel (tournament) circuit of their own, including "5 and Unders", tournaments that cater specifically to those new to the sport. GNCC also has its own SafeSport program, separate from USACs.

USAC and GNCC have had tensions going back far longer than most will remember, but suffice it to say there was some bad blood. Things started heating up in 2020 when USAC made their insurance program mandatory for member clubs, forcing GNCC into conflict with their own.

GNCC vs. USA Curling

During the pandemic, curling club membership was absolutely demolished, straining clubs that already run razor-thin margins on 100% volunteer man-hours. Because of this, clubs began to take a closer look at the benefits they were receiving in exchange for dues paid to USAC, which generally places a lot more emphasis on national or high performance curling as opposed to grassroots curling with far wider reach. Many of these clubs came to the conclusion that membership was no longer in their best interest, and resigned from USAC, but NOT GNCC.

This caused some issues. Most importantly: USAC has a policy that requires regions to maintain a 95% "buy-in" rate for member clubs. AKA if less than 95% of clubs in a region stop paying dues to USAC, USAC reserves the right to remove the region's membership. GNCC took the position that strong-arming small clubs was A) not GNCC's responsibility and B) not in the best interest of the clubs, the individual curlers, and most importantly the sport as a whole.

This put them in hot water with USAC, which sent out an email to membership explaining their intention to remove GNCC as a region. This was later approved by a board vote and would need to be ratified by the membership in the Members' Assembly in October 2022.

The schism this created within the community was immediate. While the USAC board is within their right to assert privileges afforded to them in their bylaws, the perception is one of a complete lack of compassion and common sense regarding a massive chunk of the player base. See my note about the Spirit of Curling at the end of this post. Unfortunately, while almost all online discourse sides with GNCC, the Athlete's Association as well as the Wisconsin and Minnesota regions control the most votes and get the most value from USAC's policies. That brings us to October 21st, 2022: the USAC Members' Assembly Meeting. Actually hold on there was one other thing-

The CEO is a Creep

Well. Allegedly. Actually he's definitely a creep but allegedly USAC CEO Jeff Plush allowed some abuse while he was head of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). The complaint is that he was aware of, but chose not to act on information pertaining to the abuse of athlete Mana Shim (+ others) by then-coach Paul Riley. Riley was eventually canned, but not before some eyebrows gained substantial upward momentum vis a vis Plush's leadership. Oh also Riley quickly moved to other coaching jobs, so fear not that any consequences were felt here.

This made some waves and in fact GNCC was one of the first orgs to make a statement calling for Plush's suspension pending the results of investigations by NWSL and related bodies. Such calls were not answered.

Sally Yates, formerly Deputy Attorney General under Obama and very briefly AG under Trump, was head of one of those investigations, commissioned to examine abuse and sexual misconduct in the NWSL. On October 3rd, 2022 she released her report. Unfortunately, it's pretty much what you'd expect from an athletic organization under a CEO that's happy to look the other way. Notably as it applied to the curling community, Plush was still the tight-lipped CEO and USAC showed no intention of ousting him. Additionally, despite his external enthusiasm for the investigation, Yates noted a total lack of cooperation by Plush.

USAC investigated themselves and found no wrong-doing.

This went over pretty poorly with the community, with many clubs publishing formal statements denouncing Plush, demanding his removal and the investigation of all SafeSport complaints made during his tenure, as well as the results of USAC's supposed investigation:

Broomstones Curling Club: Statement | Comments

Midwest Curling Association: Statement | Comments

Orlando Curling Club: Statement | Comments

Plainfield Curling Club: Statement | Comments

Additional Statements can be found on the "We Demand Change" spreadsheet here.

Unfortunately, with no actual recourse available, USAC refused to yield and the stage was set for the Members' Assembly.

It was a shitshow

Yea, it didn't go great. Plagued with technical issues and an 80+ person zoom call full of angry club presidents, it took nearly an hour to get the meeting actually started, and immediately there was contention concerning the votes allocated to clubs. You see, if dues don't get paid, you lose your voting rights. If dues are due (heh) January 31st and you cut a check that day, you would normally expect to be in good standing. Unfortunately, USAC didn't agree and therefore allocated 0 votes to a handful of clubs (largely in the GNCC). Most notable was Broomstones Curling Club (Boston, MA) who successfully campaigned to have their votes restored, pending proof that USAC could demonstrate the dues were postmarked later than the required date. Nevermind that the postmark is irrelevant, but we're dealing with a very scorned board here.

Alright so we're finally cooking, get to sit through a riveting presentation about growth numbers and training initiatives but we finally arrive at the topic of the night, GNCC's expulsion. Immediately the hands start flying up, and club president after club president takes their turn at the mic to espouse the values of curling, as well as the potential impact of the decision on the future of the sport. In total, nearly every club president had something to say and the spirited debate lasted hours.

Oh wait. None of that happened.

Yea, a handful of presidents were able to get their words on record, but delegates from Minnesota and Wisconsin managed to call an early procedural vote to end the debate (reaction here), which was quickly rammed through with the help of the Athlete's Association which controls 1/3rd of the votes by federal mandate. The actual vote was then called and broke pretty much the same way. All told, the removal of GNCC from USA Curling took about 45 minutes excluding lengthy roll calls.

Some proposals were moved to committee and the meeting turned to new business, at which point there was a second eruption of presidents wanting to get a word in re: CEO Plush. Unfortunately, this was entirely snubbed by the chair who ruled the points "out of order" with the exception of an suggestion to the board to deliver the results of the Plush investigation conducted by the Board "as an improvement to communication" by the delegate from Triangle Curling (Durham, NC).

And thus, the meeting was concluded, with essentially the entire eastern seaboard not sure what the future of organized curling would look like.

The Aftershow + USAC Response

The sentiment coming out of the Members' Assembly was... predictably bad. For a lot of folks, faith in USAC as a governing institution was completely lost. The following days were a quiet simmer of statements, calls to action, and really just a lot of waiting to see what USAC would do. The community would not have to wait long.

One week after the Members' Assembly, USAC announced the departure of Jeff Plush, being replaced by Dean Gemmell as Interim CEO. Dean, unlike Plush, is a long time member of the sport and contributor to its administration. You can read the sentiments of r/Curling here, but the TL;DR is "Good, but you better not stop there".

They did not.

Just 4 days later (now 11 days since the Zoom disaster), USAC announced further changes to the board. Most notable was the departure of then-Chair Lynn LaRocca, who had garnered some special ill-will thanks to her conduct during the Members' Assembly. Comments on the changes here. Suffice it to say this was a promising follow-up to Plush's resignation but of course, still more work to be done.

One day after the board changes, Dean Gemmell hosted a virtual Town Hall, which was largely driven by questions from club delegates. Some things that were discussed:

  • There are some legal implications to releasing the results of the internal investigation on Jeff Plush's conduct, but if there was futher delays in releasing it the reasons would be communicated to clubs.

  • Dean would be meeting with GNCC leadership and was open to discussions about working things out.

  • A committee was created to address some bylaw issues/governance moving forward.

  • SafeSport complaints will not flow to the CEO in the future.

  • More town halls to come.

Following the town hall, posts and discussions about USAC and GNCC dropped off a cliff. With the timeline for organizational changes looking like weeks or months, there wasn't much to do but wait faster. That brings us to today, as we wait for a new CEO and further work from USAC to regain trust within the community. There is unlikely to be any big changes in the short-term, but with any luck, board meetings will return to being as boring as ever.


The essence of this drama comes down to what we in the curling community call "The Spirit of Curling". We take a lot of pride in our sport's commitment to honor, sportsmanship, and kindness to your fellow curlers. Curlers do not gloat, they do not cheer for missed shots, and they don't attempt to distract or otherwise cause an opponent to play at anything less than their best. The saying "A Curler would rather lose than win unfairly" is not a banal platitude but encapsulates the attitude within the sport on a wide scale. USAC's behavior during the Assembly, over the past years concerning GNCC, and their rally behind Plush is wholly at odds with a common sense view on what is good for the clubs, the regions, and the curlers. Thankfully there does appear to be an effort to change, but it will be a long road. For the casual curler, this was the first they'd ever thought about USAC - not a great first impression.

I'm happy to discuss any curling or drama questions in the comments :). Until next time, good curling!


About Community

The most interesting subreddit about things you're not interested in
Created Jun 6, 2018
r/HobbyDrama topics





r/HobbyDrama Rules

Follow all site-wide rules and reddiquette
Do not insult or attack other users
No slurs or hate speech
No Doxxing / Redact personal information
Drama must have concluded at least 14 days prior to post
Consequences must be detailed
No validation-seeking or awfulbrag posts
No low-effort posts / No reposts
Influencer / YouTuber / Reddit drama
Flair non-drama posts as Hobby History
Flair Heavy posts appropriately
Not Hobby Drama

Subreddit Guidelines

/r/HobbyDrama is a place where people can post dramatic and controversial stories, events and situations within their specific circles, usually consisting of events others may not have heard of.

Join the r/HobbyDrama discord here!

What is a hobby? What is Hobby Drama?

For the purposes of our subreddit, a hobby community is "a group of people who are connected by their active participation in a particular activity during their free time for personal enjoyment".

Examples of hobbies include: cosplay, model rocketry, fanfiction, blogging, historical reenactment, gaming, fanart, participating in forums, gardening, cooking, playing sports, composing music, making memes, collecting, backpacking, knitting, reading, and many, many more.

Hobby Drama is an event which happened in a hobby that created meaningful controversy within the community involved. Hobby Drama-worthy events might have ousted someone from the community, shaped perception of the hobby, altered the rules the hobby uses, divided the community, created a new faction, caused significant outrage, etc. They are not blink-and-you'll-miss-it catfights with no consequences or internet influencers being rude to each other.

What is not a hobby? What is NOT Hobby Drama?

Most drama between professionals is not hobby drama, e.g. professional sports teams, YouTubers, streamers, actors, scientists, etc., unless the professionals are interacting with hobbyists/fans. Current events, news, real-world politics, following a social media account, and being internet famous do not qualify as hobbies. Mods reserve the right to make exceptions for particularly bizarre or niche write-ups.

Drama must have active involvement by hobbyists to qualify as hobby drama. It cannot be a contained event between professionals where hobbyists had no involvement or no impact on the perception of the occurrence. A TV show finale being bad isn't hobby drama; the fandom reaction leading to it being called 'the worst TV finale ever' might be.

What is a hobby drama post?

A high-quality, well thought-out post about a dramatic event in a hobby space. Readers overwhelmingly prefer posts which lay out the history, stakes, events, and consequences of the drama, and which include receipts like screenshots or chat logs. Posts should have minimal direct involvement by the poster and not be overwhelmingly biased, and any personal information of participants who are not public figures must be censored.

What is NOT a Hobby Drama post?

A short paragraph, one liner, a post directly asking for advice or a post that is fabricated or fictional. Please see the wiki for more information.

A Note on Hobby History

For posters who want to infodump about the history of their favorite hobby or a particularly interesting moment in it, we allow Hobby History posts. Hobby History posts do not need to be dramatic. Since they're meant to be historical, they can focus entirely on professionals in a space. They can explain the background events leading up to a dramatic event, or explain the minutiae of how a hobby works; recount a legend of the hobby that’s not quite drama, or just give context on how this hobbyist community works.

A note on Flair

If a post discusses subjects that might be shocking, unpleasant or distressing to readers, it must be flaired Heavy. The NSFW tag should also be used when appropriate. Otherwise, if a post is a Hobby History, it should use one of the blue History length flairs, and if not, one of the red length flairs. The maximum length of a post is 40 000 characters, so an Extra Long post might be more than 25 000 characters, a Long post might be over 15 000, and so on. You can see more information about flairs on the wiki.

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P.S. Our icon comprises the Knitting icon created by Ben Davis and the Fire icon created by Susannanova, both released under CC-BY 3.0.


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