It only took hours for Twitch streamers and viewers to realize something was amiss with a new KFC emote that was integrated this past weekend.
The branded bucket of chicken emote was used in conjunction with a PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds tournament of sorts co-hosted by Twitch and KFC. Of course, victories in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds are accompanied with a celebratory, "Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!" message, making the origins of this particular bit of brand synergy obvious. Streamers like Sacriel, Sequisha, Anthony Kongphan and Dr. Lupo all participated in the event, and viewers were encouraged to use the bucket of chicken emote as a way to take part in the event and possibly win a $20 KFC gift card.
Twitch’s problematic culture surrounding emotes and chat windows led many streamers to ask why Twitch would think it’s okay to integrate the bucket of chicken emote so soon after these important conversations. TriHex, a black streamer who the controversial and often abused TriHard emote is based on, called out the company for its lack of oversight regarding the emote.
“Twitch, oh my god, dude,” TriHex says in the clip below. “I feel bad for POCs (people of color) right now on Twitch who can’t look past that. Someone’s gotta get it together, man. I’m laughing because I’m like dying inside. Do, like, no black people work at Twitch? What else do I even say to that? That’s my reaction dude: holy shit.”
People on Reddit and Twitter started taking screenshots of the KFC emote, alongside the Snickers emote, another global icon Twitch integrated into its chat, being used beside TriHard. The connotation is extremely racist, and plays into antiquated stereotypes. Seeing the two emotes being used together gave people pause for concern.
Other popular streamers with notoriously troublesome communities, like Forsen, decided to ban the emote outright. Forsen addressed the emote during one of his streams when people in his chat kept asking why he decided to ban the emote. Sodapoppin, another popular streamer, also reportedly banned using the emote in his chat, according to a popular Twitch subreddit.
“The better question is why the fuck was that emote added in the first place,” Forsen said. “I think it was a bad phrase in my chat before. They add Snickers, they add KFC emote, but don’t fucking post it in the Overwatch League channel. They’ll fucking fine you thousands of dollars. Twitch logic.”
Forsen’s reference to a specific event that occurred in the Overwatch League earlier this month is why people are so confused over Twitch’s decision to integrate the KFC emote. After popular streamer and controversial player, Félix “xQc” Lengyel, used the TriHard emote in Twitch chat while Malik Forte, an emcee for the Overwatch League, was on camera, conversations about racist messaging around emotes spun up again. A large portion of the community called out Lengyel for his use of the emote even though Lengyel said on a following stream that he wasn’t aware of the emote’s connotations.
After everything that happened with Lengyel, streamers are beginning to explore their role in keeping certain emotes at bay. The clamp down on emotes in personal stream chats may be the result of Twitch’s new terms of service, which require casters to try and take control of their community’s behavior before it gets out of hand. The company recently issued a blog post acknowledging that if streamers failed to try and quell the actions of people in their community to harass or berate others on Twitch, those same streamers could be held accountable.
Creators are role models and leaders of the communities they create or foster around them,” the post reads. “Creators should consider the consequences of their statements and actions of their audiences; we ask that you make a good faith effort to quell any efforts from those in your community to harass others. Twitch should not be used to incite, encourage, promote, facilitate, or organize hateful conduct or harassment, whether on or off Twitch.
“We will suspend communities, organizations, and individuals that do so.”