A YouTube investigator Philion has brought up the debate whether Yuga Labs’ Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) NFT collection uses racist imagery and white supremacist esotericism.
YouTuber calls out Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) for racist imagery.
At the end of the video, Rusnack makes a call to action, asking his viewers to put pressure on BAYC NFT owners to “burn” their tokens by sending them to an address that can’t be used or recovered:
“I want every famous actor, athlete, and influencer to burn their f**king ape. I want to make such a f**king shit storm that everyone from Steph Curry to Post Malone to Jimmy Fallon would have to act.”
Racist symbolism in the collection has been a hot topic on social media this year, but it really came to light when artist Ryder Ripps published a collection of what he says is evidence of Nazi imagery and antisemitism in early 2022.
Ripps bought the domain gordongoner.com. And this is the same name used by Yuga Labs co-founder Wylie Aronow as a pseudonym. He did this so he could host a website with lots of examples of esoteric symbols. The video shows what information Rusnack got and what research Ripps did.
In the video, Rusnack says there is a
“point at which these similarities are no longer just coincidences.”
He also said:
“If I give you one example of deliberate Nazi, fascist, or alt-right messaging, you might think, ‘I get it, but that’s going too far.’ So I ask, “What is your number?” “At what point do all of these examples become very clear to you?“
Yuga Labs responds to the YouTuber’s claims
Without bringing up the controversy directly, Yuga Labs responded to some of the claims by tweeting in January that many investors in the crypto space called themselves the Apes. Most likely the crypto-slang term “ape in,” describes people who invest a lot of money in cryptocurrencies or projects without doing much research first.
In an hour-long video on Youtube, Rusnack explained that BAYC is “one massive alt-right inside joke” that uses language, symbols, and memes from the anonymous image board website 4Chan.
The NFT images showed racist caricatures of Black and Asian people. He also said that Yuga Labs and the BAYC used the same symbols and language as the Nazis.
Pitcavage did agree, though, that some NFT traits and attributes were problematic. For example, the “hip hop” trait with a gold chain and the “sushi chef headband” are stereotypical images of Black culture and Japanese people, respectively.
Overall, however, Pitcavage and another ADL researcher, Carla Hill, said that Ripps’s research doesn’t point to a certain group of extremists.
Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) Linked with extreme racist groups.
People in the NFT community accused Ripps of using his compiled research as a publicity stunt to sell his own BAYC derivative NFT collection called RR/BAYC. His NFT has over 6,000 NFTs based on the original collection.
Ripps says that the collection is a satire and protest meant to teach people about the BAYC’s alleged ties to extremist groups. But these claims don’t provide an argument against what Ripps said in his research.