Borderlands 3’s murder streamer villains represent the dangerous power of influencers and new media

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Borderlands 3 Calypso Twins (2)

Living Colour (the awesome band, not the weird comedy show that has aged awfully) said it best many years ago when they cranked out a track by the name of Cult of Personality. The idea of charismatic leaders encouraging people to do awful things is nothing new, as history is littered with such names: Adolf Hitler, Charles Manson and Mother Theresa being a few notable examples.

These days, getting your voice out to the masses is a walk in the park thanks to the virtual soapbox that streaming and video platforms provide. In Borderlands 3, that idea of establishing a viral following of loonies and psychopaths is being turned up to 11, as players won’t be facing a handsome corporate CEO but rather the tag team of murder streamers known as the Calypso Twins.

They’ve got all the bandit subscribers, a cult that’s ready to do their bidding and an internet connection that South Korea would get a boner for. So how did Borderlands 3 end up choosing influencers as their primary villains? “In 2012, the idea of what we have as a modern streamer or YouTube star, it was still kind of nascent, and it didn’t have the power that it has today,” co-lead writer of Borderlands 3 Sam Winkler said to The Verge.

Borderlands 3 Calypso Twins (1)

We didn’t want to parody or caricature any specific streamers or YouTubers. But any one of these people with 10, 20 million followers — if they woke up one day in a bad mood and said, ‘That guy should die,’ 99.99 percent of those followers are going to be like, ‘Whoa, kind of an overstatement, guy!’ And some of them are going to show up at that person’s house. And that’s powerful and that’s dangerous in the real world, let alone when your entire audience is just billions of psychopaths.

Billions of psychopaths and a YouTube comments section? I fail to see the difference. HEYOH! Winkler may be on to something, as YouTube has become somewhat of a cesspool lately thanks to content creators who have realised that nothing rakes in the ol’ Adsense dollars better than a quick dip into outrage clicks. The followers are whipped into a frenzy, comments run wild and you’ll occasionally hear of that one guy taking things a step too far.

There’s a genuine fear present within new media and its controversial figureheads, and Borderlands 3 looks set to rip that theme a new one with its usual absurd sense of humour. After several years of fighting back against space capitalism run amok in the form of several corporations, this may just be the most logical step yet when you’re facing a duo who want you to like, subscribe and die.

Last Updated: August 15, 2019

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