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Twitch’s Hot Tub Meta is Passé, Now It’s All About Licking Plastic Ears

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OnlyFans is not a pornographic website. It bills itself as a way for content creators to connect directly with fans and allow fans to pay those creators for their content. It imagines itself as something like Patreon, a place where you can follow your favorite creator and pay for access to exclusive content.

OnlyFans didn’t prohibit adult content on its service, and so it was only a matter of time before the website was synonymous with amateur porn. It’s frankly a very good business model for adult entertainers; they don’t have to learn how to code a website, they can just take naked pictures and videos of themselves and sell them directly to fans.

These entertainers are also selling the fantasy that they’re interested in talking to their fans. A lot of the “service” you get with OnlyFans subscriptions is less about the naked pictures and more about the interaction with the entertainers. A good number of models advertise that they’ll DM with subscribers or let subscribers send them dick pics and pretend that it’s big. It’s a lot like paying extra for the “girlfriend experience” with a prostitute, only you’re getting the “long-distance girlfriend experience.”

A big part of the work of being a Twitch streamer is also convincing your audience you care about them. Many top streamers aren’t the best players in the world, but they’re entertaining and they interact with their chat and build a rapport with their audience. They’re selling the idea that they are your friend when they are most certainly not.

“I have boobs” was, at points, a pretty big draw for some Twitch channels. In the earliest days of Twitch, there was a cottage industry of former cam girls going to Twitch where they not only didn’t have to get naked but weren’t allowed to get naked, so they would kind of play a video game while bouncing around in their underwear or a skimpy bikini.

There were negative reactions to these “titty streamers” from both users and advertisers, so Twitch eventually made rules that streamers couldn’t show their “underbust” and outfits had to be setting-appropriate; that basically means you can’t sit around your bedroom in a bikini, if you want to wear a swimsuit, you have to be in a setting that most people would be wearing a swimsuit, such as at the beach or in a hot tub.

See how she has a kiddie pool there? That’s what makes this a nice, normal activity anyone might take part in and not something people are supposed to masturbate to. This became known as the “hot tub meta” as more and more channels used this loophole to get sexy.

And so people who wanted to be soft-core porn stars on Twitch had hot tubs installed to stream from. Twitch allowed this, as they’re walking a very fine line between pleasing advertisers by keeping the site, which is widely seen as being for children, free of adult material while also appearing to be woke and sex-positive to avoid being canceled on Twitter and Tumblr.

But eventually, advertisers got the best of them and complained, and hot tub streamers started having ads removed. Twitch eventually moved them to their own category called “Pools, Hot Tubs, & Beaches,” with the Oxford comma in there just to drive me crazy.

They tried to frame this in the wokest way possible, telling the community in blog post that “first and foremost, no one deserves to be harassed for the content they choose to stream, how they look, or who they are, and we will take action against anyone who perpetuates this kind of toxicity on our service. Second, while we have guidelines about sexually suggestive content, being found to be sexy by others is not against our rules, and Twitch will not take enforcement action against women, or anyone on our service, for their perceived attractiveness. ”

Of course, in reality, this essentially killed hot tub streams. See, the biggest IRL/non-gaming category on Twitch is Just Chatting. The top streamers in Just Chatting can have tens of thousands of viewers, and hot tub streamers need people looking in that category to see them and think “Oh, those are nice” and click. They need to be discovered. A month after “Pools, Hot Tubs, & Beaches” was created and hot tub streamers were told they had to be in there and not Just Chatting, it’s basically a ghost town.

When I checked while writing this, the top stream in the category, with nearly a quarter of the total views at just over 1000, was some otters chilling. Which was cute. A Spanish woman with giant breasts was second in the category with just over 500 viewers. The category then quickly fell into double and single-digit streams, with a few of the streamers looking for donations to buy plastic ears.

This brings us to the new way titty streamers want to get your dick hard and your wallet open: ASMR. I always knew ASMR was porn-adjacent.

Amouranth, whom we saw earlier in the kiddie pool wearing a tiny bikini, was banned because of a sexy ASMR and yoga video she did. I don’t know if you can call lying around in stretch pants and licking a plastic ear yoga, but Amouranth certainly did and it landed her a three-day ban.

If it seems like I’m picking on Amouranth in particular, I don’t actually have any animosity towards her. She’s just a really high-profile streamer who is also the subject of a hilarious meme where one of her moderators flipped out on her when he found out she was married. I almost think this was fake, especially at the end where the guy is like “oh, you’re married, but the joke’s on you, I was cheating on you by paying another streamer to pay attention to me!” But guys, I want the world to be a magical place where desperate nerds yell at titty streamers because of the fake relationship they had built up in their heads.

But also, the thing we can learn from Amouranth here is that Twitch streamers are going to remain at the forefront of ass-shaking technology. Whatever the rules are, these would-be porn stars will go right up to the line, as close as they can, without crossing it.

Why not just start an OnlyFans where this sort of jiggling and gyrating is welcomed with open arms instead of sitting in a kiddie pool promising you’ll do squats every time you get a subscriber? I think the main reason is that Twitch has a bigger user base. Of course, you can just have both, like Amouranth, who has an OnlyFans but as far as I can tell doesn’t get nude on it anyway.  It being on Twitch gives people a chance to find you, and clearly, there’s no shortage of thirsty dudes handing over cash to sexy streamers on Twitch.

Pokimane, a popular non-titty streamer, also said she believes these creators will keep pushing as far as they can, possibly to the detriment of the platform as a whole.

“I did call it,” said Pokimane during a recent Twitch stream. “When we talked about the Hot Tub meta, I said listen, Twitch, it doesn’t matter if you make a new section for this (which is ultimately what Twitch did) or ban these individual people, or if you ban hot tub streams indoors, they are going to find another way to push the envelope.”

“They basically implemented a bandaid fix rather than treat the root cause. It’s not about the symptom. It’s about the root cause, which is your terms of service and lack of content organization and labeling… on YouTube you had the ‘adpocalypse’ because of this, and I really hope it doesn’t get to that point with Twitch, because if it does, we might end up on in a situation where a lot of your favorite streamers are labeled as ‘mature content’ just because they are older or discuss things that are meant for adults, but that aren’t sexually suggestive.”

Eventually, Twitch will take some sort of action against these sorts of NSFW ASMR streams and there will be a new fad that will eventually get people banned, then Twitch will soften their stance on but they’ll eventually do something to kill it. My guess is jumping jacks in the health and fitness section, and Twitch will issue a statement like “we’re not going to let anyone shame you for displaying the proper technique while doing a jumping jack, but also we’re moving you to the new “Jump Jacks and Trampolines” section of the site.

This cat and mouse game will then continue until the heat death of the universe.

And yes, other platforms have these issues as well. If you want to see some naked women on YouTube, just search for “nude yoga.” Vaginas and dongs everywhere, just out for everyone to see. It’s a loophole in YouTube’s rules of when nudity is acceptable, and people have run with it, labeling it as educational to avoid YouTube’s ire.

And it’s not exactly like this is anything new. No one who watched ESPN in the 90s actually thought that Kiana Tom was on in the morning because we needed workout tips. But eventually, ESPN ditched the “workout” shows when they were respectable enough not to need them. HBO and Cinemax similarly built audiences with late-night softcore porn only to move away from it when it conflicted with their other offerings.

But the real issue is advertisers. Demonetizing channels like Amouranth’s might seem like a solution, as advertisers won’t have their spots running on objectionable content. The problem is they won’t want to be on the platform at all if it becomes seen as a softcore porn site.

You see, most people think of Twitch as being a site for children. Only 21% of Twitch viewers are in the 13-17 age range, but the perception has stuck that it’s all children. Reaching the proper demographic is very important for advertisers, and otherwise popular media can end up failing because of demographic issues.

For example, the very popular Japanese children’s show Detective Conan was brought to America by Adult Swim as Case Closed in 2004 and aired at the end of the block from 5 am to 6 am. It proved to be not very popular with adults but popular with children, which is not unexpected given the show’s focus on elementary school children as the main characters and the 5 am time slot is a time when children are waking up for school and adults are mostly asleep.

The content of the show, even though it was made for children in Japan, was objectionable to American children’s advertisers. The show is a murder mystery and American advertisers don’t even like the words death or kill. Teen Titans had to change the name of the show’s primary antagonist from Deathstroke the Terminator to Slade because of standards and practices, children’s products aren’t going to advertise during a show that’s rated TV-MA and has bloody corpses front and center. So Case Closed got canceled after its initial airing because despite the audience actually being fairly large, there was no one interested in advertising to that audience.

This is what Twitch is trying to avoid. Toymakers like Hasbro may look at the platform and think “This can help us reach an audience, we can advertise here and do promotional work with them,” but if it becomes known as “the bouncing titties website” they’re going to go somewhere else. Just look at OnlyFans, a website that doesn’t once mention adult entertainment in its press releases; advertising your OnlyFans violates Twitch’s terms of services, even if your profile doesn’t have any adult content.

Okay, maybe it’s not a massive lift to assume non-porn OnlyFans accounts won’t remain that way for long.

The point is, Twitch isn’t going to be able to have their cake and eat it too forever. These sexy streams make a lot of money for Twitch as well as the streamers, and Twitch has been hiding behind their terms of service and woke language to allow them on the platform without condoning them, but advertisers are clearly starting to get fed up. A few stories about how “children’s video game website Twitch is selling sex” in the right outlets and they’re going to be rolling out much stricter guidelines.

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