Crisis Management for Internet Personalities (or What JonTron Can Teach Us About Public Relations)

And THAT would be half your problem, sir.
Source: Know Your Meme

Not long ago, several of my preferred news sources and my Twitter feed were flooded with news about a supposed controversy involving popular video game critic Jon Jafari; AKA JonTron and his choice of words regarding his criticism of Sony’s “Playstation Now” streaming game service.

The problem could be said to have began on August 2nd of this year when, in a choice of words seeming meant to offend the politically correct crowd, Jafari called out Playstation Now’s hourly rental system on Twitter for being archaic and user unfriendly by calling it, “the most painfully retarded thing I’ve seen in a while.”

Naturally, this sparked a wave of anger over his choice of words. And while I’m certain that he meant no harm, my background in Communications (particularly as it relates to Public Relations and Crisis Management) can’t help but see obvious mistakes in Mr. Jafari’s actions in retrospect. Today, I’d like to clarify everything that went wrong to help Jon and others avoid a P.R. nightmare like this in the future.

First, the fact that he actually used the word “retard” as an insult. Ignoring how flimsy name calling is as a debate stance, this was just insensitive. There may be nothing wrong with the word in and of itself (to retard something just mean to slow or impede and, in the context of human health, refers to a condition that slows or halts physical or mental development), but using it as a dysphemism for stupidity rather than for its intended purpose to describe a serious condition is just going to far.

Secondly, it seems Mr. Jafari doesn’t understand the difference between acting as himself and acting in character or at least can’t convey the difference well. If JonTron, the person he portrays on his show, said these words, he might have gotten away with it with little more than a few ugly looks. That’s because those kind of over reactions are what we expect from that character. However, when Jon Jafari, not JonTron, calls something “retarded”, it seems as if he actually believes that it’s okay to minimize the seriousness of a condition and makes him look unsympathitic. This obviously isn’t true, but that’s how it looks.

Thirdly, more damning than his choice of words was his reaction to being told to stop. When asked to stop by others, Mr. Jafari responded with more off-color jokes devaluing the opinions of the people he calls his fans. To make matters worse, he proceeded to release an official statement that read as follows:

“I don’t usually respond to this kind of criticism, but this has gotten so out of hand and always happens when I make some sort of ‘controversial’ statement on twitter. To you people who get offended at every turn: Why don’t you try focusing your civil unrest at something that dearly needs it, like the fact that today the Israeli air force struck a school with a missile killing 10 people, most of which were children. I suppose you’re all ok with that, as long as the missile didn’t call the school ‘retarded’ first, right? My job as a comedian is to make people laugh and feel better about their lives. So no, in the midst of so many other pressing matters in the world, I will not apologize for calling a PS4 retarded. I encourage you to look at yourselves and think about what really matters.”

Again, this devalued the opinions of his fans. Yes, it is a shame that there so many other more serious problems around the world, but there is no need to make the world less tolerable with hateful language. It’s that proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Not to mention the act of bringing up serious world events smacks a bit of trying to redirect the issue (again, obviously not what he meant to do).

Mr. Jafari gave a partial apology for bringing up the climate in the middle east as a defense, but still has not apologized for the comment that started it all. Still, I’d like to think that some good can come from anything – even a hot mess like this. As such I’ve learned the following: 1) Even if you think PC-ness is bogus, you still need to watch your mouth, 2) If you act in character for a living, be sure to leave that character at the office before continuing the rest of your day, 3) What you say can be damaging. How you treat what others say in turn can be cataclysmic, and 4) I was absolutely right when I said that Mr. Jafari doesn’t know when a joke is over. Here’s hoping he knows now.

The Gift of Two Grumps

Seriously guys, let’s chill out for a sec. ‘Kay?
Source: dynamofox on Imgur

As mentioned in my article on independent shows online, I love Game Grumps. It’s a funny and entertaining show that sets the bar for all would-be comedy game playthroughs (I hesitate to use the term “Let’s Play’s” out of respect to them).

However, the fanbase has been divided ever since June 25th of this year. This came as a result of “JonTron” Jonathan Jafari leaving the show’s production to be replaced by Leigh Daniel Avidan, AKA; Danny Sexbang. The fans, as would be expected on the internet, are now caught in a war over who is the Superior “Not-So-Grump” and if Jon should return.

But honestly, I think that this change is the best thing to ever happen to ANYONE that is currently or was previously involved with the show – including Jon and Danny. Today, I will explain my position on this matter as well as analyze what makes these two men so amusing.

Why JonTron Is Funny (And What His Limits Are)

Relax, Jon. It’s constructive criticism.
Source: GoodGuyGiygas on Imgur

Jon’s brand of humor centers around his bombastic nature. If you watch his work, either on Game Grumps or his own show, He excels at going overboard with his emotions and drawing out the same reactions from those he works with. Remember, the key to good humor is exaggeration. In Jon’s case, he chooses to exaggerate reactions and emotion to comedic effect.

Jon’s weaknesses, however, also stems from this humor as he has a tendency to go too far with his extreme reactions to the point where they become exhausting or unlikeable. Let me put it this way, when poor over-worked Game Grumps editor Barry Kramer has to censor you five times in a row for dropping the n-word and even co-host Arin “Egoraptor” Hanson calls you out for “derailing” the show, it’s time to tone it down a little.

Why Danny Sexbang Is Funny (And What HIS Limits Are)

It takes a special man to rock a unitard with a ninja on a cardboard key-tar.
Source: Lyric Wiki

Like Jon, Danny’s humor is reliant on exaggeration. But where Jon exaggerates his emotions and actions, Danny’s exaggeration comes from his witty observations and Arin’s reactions to them (and the audience’s reactions by extention). The moment that many claim earned Danny the love he has now, the “Death Approaches” gag from Part 5 of their Super Mario Bros. 2 series, illustrates this strength well. In addition, his own reactions seem more genuine and less forced then Jon’s as evidenced in Part 3 of Mega Man 2.

Sadly, Danny lacks the envelope pushing nature of Jon. Jon may play too far in the middle of the street too often, but Danny has yet to even see the other sidewalk. On the rare instances where he does get raunchy, he tries to insist that it be edited out which Arin disallows due to the format of the show using real time reactions.

Why The Change Is Good For Everyone

This has nothing to do with the topic; I just REALLY wanted to show Arin making one of his goofy faces.
Source: Reddit

Let’s take a look at what this shift in dynamic does for everyone involved.

First, it creates talk among fans and non-fans which spreads the word about the show and drives more traffic to them. This benefits the Game Grumps cast and crew as a whole.

Second, Danny now has a second channel on YouTube to complement his music videos for Ninja Sex Party. This gives him more coverage and fans of one of his works will be more likely to check out the other when they inevitably hear about them.

Third, Jon’s fans will be more likely to support his own show out of loyalty while giving him more time to devote to another show where he has much more creative freedom.

Lastly, we, the fans, now have two rival camps ala Capt. Kirk/Capt. Picard (or Joel Robinson/Mike Nelson if you’re especially geeky). This lets us debate the merits of both and feel like we’re being constructive.

What Do I Personally Think?

Personally, I prefer Danny as a co-host over Jon. Jon’s brand of humor has saturated the Internet to the point of my own disinterest and I just want something fun and different.

This, of course is not to take anything away from anyone. Both Jon and Danny are amazing performers and talents that deserve every bit of praise they get and I wish them good fortune in their future exploits.