Emotes can unify Twitch users. But when used as a weapon, a show of strength in numbers, they can also create a rift between dedicated fanbases.
That’s exactly what’s happening with a variation of the popular CD emote, a new image designed on a different emote used to pay respect to one popular Twitch streamer slightly changed and weaponized to make fun of another. In one corner is Dr. DisRespect, the self-proclaimed face of Twitch; on the other end is Forsen, a streamer with one of the most dedicated meme-making communities. It’s a recipe for disaster. This week, the emote suddenly disappeared without reason, leaving many Twitch users wondering what happened as the joke’s trollish intent reached a tipping point.
The CD emote has complicated origins, first popping up months ago when Forsen was playing Darwin Project. It began when subscribers discovered that donations to the streamer typed with the message “D Omegalul C,” which spells out DOC, were read by an automated voice as “Omegalul CD.” The emote designed on that phrase combined the incredibly popular ForsenE emote with Dr. DisRespect’s classic sunglasses and a CD reflected in the lenses.
In early February, the meme took off in the community. At the tail end of 2017, Dr. DisRespect announced that he was taking time to deal with personal family issues, admitting to cheating on his wife and needing to take time to focus on his marriage. By late January and early February, the Twitch community started preparing for Dr. DisRespect’s return the only way they knew how: either providing an abundance of emotional support or preparing for the ultimate spam attack in chat. When he returned six weeks later, the community was ready with the latter.
Forsen’s fans began spamming the Doc’s channel during his first stream back. They relied on ForsenE emotes next to an actual CD emoji, essentially visualizing the growing text-to-speech “omegalul CD” meme.
Like most memes on Twitch, the joke quickly spread, and like most spam attacks launched in a major streamer’s chat, other communities are bound to pick up on it. Before long, the jokes made their way to subreddits, where fans of other Twitch streamers picked up on what was happening, asking to be included in on the joke and sharing it with their own communities. A viral joke always has a patient zero, and in this case, it was Forsen, a streamer with one of the most notorious Twitch communities.
The participation of popular streamers like Sodapoppin, Asmongold and Shroud in the meme became too much for Dr. DisRespect. The streamer brought up the emote in a conversation with Shroud during a Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds stream in late April, asking what “CD” meant. It’s only when Shroud admitted that he didn’t know the origin behind the joke, admitting to getting in on it because other streamers were, that Dr. DisRespect explained what he took the joke to mean.
“Something about compact disks are transparent etc, etc,” Dr. DisRespect says in the video above. “It’s like little chubby cheek wannabe wannabes. Like, to laugh and giggle behind-the-scenes, right? That’s what it stands for.”
Dr. DisRespect read was only partially true. Omegalul CD is unique because it started as one thing — a less-than-subtle way to insult Dr. DisRespect through text-to-speech misreadings — and ended up as something completely different. Dr. DisRespect saw the emote as a way for people to poke fun at his past infidelity. But now the “transparent” aspect of the meme is the intended takeaway. In a matter of a few months, the meme became a total double entendre.
Keeping up with a meme’s connotation is just as important as keeping up with the meme itself. On Twitch, secret handshakes disguised as emotes float around different chats. Omegalul CD is one of those handshakes. The way Dr. DisRespect perceives the meme, and how different communities began to use it, explains why it seems to have suddenly disappeared.
On May 2, The Doc tweeted about “desperate channels with their desperate transparency emotes,” calling them a “bunch of babies preciouses seeking attention and 6th grade giggles just like their weak communities.” The tweet was later deleted, but it seemed to catch the attention of just about everyone — possibly including Twitch. The following day, Twitch users noticed that the various Omegalul CD emotes once populating chats were now unavailable, leading many people to believe the company removed the emote entirely. Polygon reached out to Twitch for comment, but did not hear back by the time of this publication.
Twitch’s terms of service dictate that emotes created for Twitch need to abide by certain policies. Not using emotes for harassment — defined by “targeted insults, defamation, intimidation, and threats of any nature” — is at the top of the list. Omegalul CD, and the D-O-C spelling, was always created as a way to poke fun at Dr. DisRespect. The new layer, however, makes the targeted insult far more apparent, and easier for Twitch’s moderation team to remove.
Protecting users and streamers against harassment is a big part of Twitch’s 2018 goals. New guidelines that went into effect earlier this year stated that streamers will have some responsibility over their community’s actions.
“Creators are role models and leaders of the communities they create or foster around them,” a blog 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.”
Although only a few people are facing suspensions for using the emote, Dr. DisRespect feeling targeted for harassment would certainly fall under the company’s ramped up anti-harassment policy, and justify the deletion of the emote.
The turn of events forced users to have a bigger conversation about how emotes are used, and how the rest of the community views their importance. Forsen, the streamer whose community started this entire debacle, commented on the situation yesterday, calling Dr. DisRespect’s response a tad unnecessary and wholly unexpected.
“I was surprised that he got that upset over the pixels when, I mean, he’s known for trash talking 90 percent of the big streamers on this platform” Forsen said. “That was his thing. Constantly. I’m a little bit surprised, but I don’t really care.”
Other streamers, like Sodapoppin and Trainwrecks, also commented on the situation, echoing Forsen’s thoughts.
Removing Omegalul CD from Twitch exacerbated the already belligerent situation. Users complained that, since Dr. DisRespect has turned his followers towards other streamers like Tyler1, he should understand the barrages of emotes are just another form of light-hearted trolling.
“It’s literally the worst way Doc could’ve handled the situation,” one person wrote on Reddit. “For someone who managed to build such a massive channel I would have expected him to be more in tune with twitch culture.”
The official emote may be dead, but new versions have already been uploaded to third-party emote services like BTTV. If Twitch’s culture has taught us anything over the years, it’s that nothing is ever truly gone forever.