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Twitch suspends Aussie prankster for ‘self-harm’ after he pretends to stick forks in toasters with silly FX and a Rickroll

The story of Boggles first came to my attention several weeks ago, after a tweet containing some clips of his material went semi-viral and Twitch slapped the young Australian with a 30-day ban. The videos are fake incidents of him pretending to stick forks in toasters then being electrocuted, the joke being he kept doing it to more and more toasters over time.

“We’ve reviewed your content (video) and we’re concerned about you,” says Twitch’s email to the streamer. “If you’re currently struggling or feeling unsafe, please reach out for help, talk to someone you trust, contact your doctor or go to a local hospital.”

It goes on to say that Boggles’ content has been removed because “suicidal or self-harm content is not allowed on Twitch.” The email directs the recipient to a mental health support page, says they’ve been banned for 30 days, and then says “know that you are valued as a part of the Twitch community. Please take care.”

Putting the question of Boggles to one side for a moment, wouldn’t that strike you as a woefully inadequate response to someone who was truly trying to electrocute themselves over and over again for an audience? This is obviously not an easy question to navigate, but I wonder if just banning people who stream stuff suggesting suicide or self-harm and telling them they’re valued is really the best response. The National Institute for Health & Care Excellence (NICE) has guidelines for healthcare professionals dealing with self-harm, for example, and the emphasis there is very much on getting family and medical professionals involved and engaging with the individual concerned.

As for Boggles’ prank videos, I guess what bothers me here is that he got such an ill-fitting form email about “suicide and self-harm”, rather than just a notice saying “we don’t allow jokes about suicide.” The anti-Boggles argument is self evident: even if the videos are clearly fake, you don’t want a video of some clown sticking a fork in a toaster out there, in case a child (hell, an adult) sees it and does something stupid. Twitch’s guidelines about self-harm content say “we do not make exceptions for self-destructive behavior performed as a stunt or gag made in jest, or meant to entertain, when the behavior could reasonably be expected to cause physical injury to anyone on our service.”

Boggles’ toaster videos remain widely available on X, YouTube, and Kick, among other platforms. He posted the below compilation to YouTube, and I have to admit it’s the first time a Rickroll has made me smile in years.

The thing I struggled with here is that, fundamentally, I don’t agree that Boggles’ content should be banned or removed from anywhere. Nor do I think it’ll lead to an epidemic of kids sticking forks in toasters. But I think that if you’re going to ban it anyway, you have to come up with a better rationale than it glorifying self-harm. Because otherwise you’re just treating the audience, and streamers themselves, as braindead in the first place.

Some wider context on Boggles is probably needed. He’s got range: Boggles does stuff like going on e-dates in Joker makeup, invading other e-dates, sneaking into the Australian Open, pisstakes of bro-hard gym breakup culture, Breaking Bad cosplay streams in which he and a colleague ‘cook meth’ and gift it to subs, and half-botched mockeries of typical attempts to go viral. Boggles attended a Dreamhack event at which he tried to get the crowd chanting “JFK”, then later started spraying attendees (‘gamers’ in his nomenclature) with deodorant (for which he and his cronies were banned).

If you’ve spent any amount of time on the internet you already know the type. Boggles is a kind of chan-inflected edgelord with the chutzpah and hustle to carry out and set up pranks, but backed by an actual sense of humour and a healthy disrespect for authority and decorum. His particular brand isn’t my cup of chai, but there’s no doubting the guy is self-aware enough that his schtick is riling people and organisations, worming his way in somewhere and seeing what fuses can be lit: the bigger the reaction, the bigger the result.

In these circles getting banned from Twitch can itself be a badge of honour, and it’s something Boggles has a little previous experience with. In a May 2023 stream one of his fellow participants brought her (vaguely clothed) breasts up to her camera and began to jiggle them, extending her tongue downwards before the stream was cut off: a clear contravention of Twitch policy, and one that Boggles was prepared for with the instant cut-off (after viewers had an eyeful, of course) followed by a live woe-is-me moment as he contemplated the ban to come.

And yeah: of course it was all deliberate. Bans are their own currency in wannabe shock-jock land, and I wondered whether the toaster stunt was perfectly calibrated to put Twitch in an wayward position. It’s so patently ludicrous yet, by the letter of Twitch policy, infringing.

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I was curious what Boggles himself thought of this and reached out. He says he didn’t respond to my initial request because “I don’t know what comment to have”, adding “I wish I never got banned.”

Boggles is not one of Twitch’s big hitters, and I didn’t find him in the most philosophical of moods. “I dont think it’s fair I got banned,” says Boggles, “I think Twitch used me as an example [be]cause of how small I am.” He says the length of the ban is “unfair” though maybe he could’ve accepted “a seven day or 24 hour [be]cause it’s not even a real thing that happened, it was edited.”

His biggest problem is the sense that this wasn’t subject to censure because of the content itself, but simply because it got notice. “Twitch knows it wasn’t a real thing either,” says Boggles, “I only got banned [be]cause it got exposure as well. My account was in good standing until the clip blew up.”

Watch the clips and decide for yourself. Comedy videos predicated on something you definitely should not do, going out to an audience of who-knows-who, is a bad combination: but they can also be funny. In that grey area, between a skit that is self-evidently humorous but also clearly designed to prod, Boggles lives.

It’s easy enough to be dismissive of some fool sticking forks in toasters but then you get onto physical comedy in general, nevermind the separation of person and actor, and the vibes become more censorious. The individual behind Boggles is no more Boggles than Rowan Atkinson is Mr Bean, yet the internet encourages this conflation and indeed adds a moral element to it: the content must, it decrees, damn the creator.

I’ve asked Twitch for comment on Boggles, and will update with any response.

Absent anything especially egregious I’ve missed in Boggles’ history, the online persona here seems quite distinct from the person. This is their whole deal: stupid stunts that show-up stupidity (as they see it). Always praying for a hit, that viral touch, something to shock the system. Thanks to some dumbass toaster videos, and the way content is now censored without any sense of tone or context, Boggles has their 15 minutes.

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