YouTuber Owen Benjamin goes from comedy roasting to ridiculous conspiracy theories
I found Benjamin’s comedy several months ago on YouTube. I remember watching what seemed like a satirical video of him where he ranted in his home, and trash talked every popular comedian that is part of the modern zeitgeist.
I thought it was great just from the mere fact that he pulled no punches and put even the most revered performers on the chopping block. Even those that are typically held in the highest regard and spared from ridicule within comedy circles like Joe Rogan, Bill Burr and Joey Diaz.
It was a long time before he reappeared in my recommended section, but when he did I was unaware of the controversy surrounding him and his work.
Currently, Benjamin is somewhat of a pariah in the comedy community because of his combative attitude and choice of subject matter. His opinions about transgender people, politics and now the moon landing, among other things, are considered incredibly controversial by the modern standard of political correctness, but that is nothing new for who he is as a comedian. However, certain aspects of his attitude and beliefs have begun to cause his own fans to turn on him.
In comment sections across platforms like Reddit and YouTube, people are claiming that there has been a clear shift in his discourse that has broken away from the truth seeking veracity he is known for. Other people claim that this is part of an elaborate act. To many of his fans, he appears to be spiraling into madness as he becomes more and more enmeshed with sycophantic supporters that have created an echo chamber for him to fester inside of.
The obsession with the moon landing conspiracy seems to have drawn a wedge between supporters, not because of the subject itself, but because Benjamin has rejected dissenting opinions and completely banned people from his live stream chats that have disagreed with him in any way.
Benjamin’s style of comedy has been abrasive for a long time, but only very recently has his impassioned rants about his fellow comedians. His conspiratorial opinions, and conservative viewpoint ostracized him among his peers and audience.
The state of Owen Benjamin is difficult to actually discern. By my own estimation, his opinions have not come across as overtly malicious or indefensible. His choice of topics would be enough to make him a dangerous comic in the mainstream, but there is a perception that he has become a white supremacist and lost his mind.
While I don’t believe he is a white supremacist, he very well may be descending into the stranger side of conspiratorial thinking. In any case, making heads or tails of the situation is more difficult than I thought it would be.
There are red flags embedded in the way he talks about different things, but it is hard to tell whether or not he is collapsing under the pressure of being put into an ideological box or starting to veer into problematic territory on his own. In reality, it could be a combination of both. My biggest concern is that he has become trapped in a sycophantic echo chamber, and that is affecting his opinions and how he deals with dissent.
I would still consider myself a fan. I have laughed out loud at his comedy and applauded the way he has tried to address incredibly sensitive subjects at a time when it is needed most in American culture. But, the ambiguity surrounding his controversies speaks to the chaotic nature of information in that it is hard to really know one way or another what is even happening.
It is possible to watch his videos and not even become aware of the specific controversies or conflicts between him and other comedians. Only to suddenly stumble upon them to find out that conflict has been resolved and another has taken its place — reversing the previous resolution.
I am going to continue watching because the stand-up I have seen has really made me laugh, and I think is necessary at this moment in our culture. We need people to confront topics that make us uncomfortable in a way that helps alleviate some of the pressures of these divisive issues. I just hope he hasn’t burned too many bridges unnecessarily, or been unfairly excommunicated because of misunderstandings and rushed judgements.