Censorship isn't fun. Sure, some things need to be censored, but the politically correct world that we live in now has caused many people to fear expressing their opinions, even if it's something harmless or backed by facts. You have a political view? Well, maybe you should hold it back because others may disagree. You don't like a certain athlete's protest of the national anthem? Delete that Instagram post because you're going to get death threats. Fear has consumed us like a fire in a time of needing to please everyone, and it's causing both panic and frustration among social media users.
That fear goes away, however, as soon as one sees the social media activity of one Californian who still mourns fallen heroes like Bardock from Dragon Ball Z, those lost in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and the gorilla Harambe.
Today, I sat down with the internet personality known simply as Bardock Obama, who came onto the scene in 2012 with memes about various animes before turning into more of an outspoken, sometimes controversial individual. Earlier this year, we spoke with Bardock about a Twitter war that Ghostbusters director Paul Feig started with the social media star after the latter claimed he didn't like the movie. Facing a Twitter suspension all because of a harmless joke, Bardock talked with me about the time in a DM exchange on the app.
"All I did was tweet my joy of a 'Ghostbusters' sequel possibly being canned. Somehow the director found the tweet and retweeted it inciting fans to harass me. I'm used to arguing with people here but it's hypocritical that I never once mentioned him prior, sent my fans to harass him, or anything and he gets away with it. It's bulls—. For some reason I had to log out, was told that I had to delete the tweet or face a 72 hour account lock. This isn't the first time I've been suspended; I was suspended around two weeks ago for tweeting a 'Ghostbusters' joke about it flopping like the Pokemon Magikarp. I gained access to my account immediately though."
Now, with the dust settled and with a new Dragon Ball game out, Bardock has agreed to sit down to talk about his favorite thing: censorship. It's important to pass along a quick note that some answers have been edited for clarity or language.
Jake Elman: I think we need to start off this interview with the only way possible: Harambe vs. Goku Black, who's winning?
Bardock: "Harambe. You can't kill what's already dead."
JE: I knew it. I want to thank you for joining us for a sit-down, my friend. Do you mind telling some of our readers not only about Bardock Obama the character, but the man behind the character? I mean, why Bardock Obama? I know it's a pun on Barack Obama, but flash back four, five years, why pick that name of all names?
B: "Thank you for having me. I am a Latino American entertainer (Can I call myself that? I think I can.) from New York City living in California. I am 28 years old. There's not much to me to be honest - I'm a typical graduate with a regular life...depending what you consider "regular". I started on Facebook in 2012 as and still "Bardock Obama" because Bardock is my favorite Dragon Ball Z character. I relate to the character: strong, outspoken as you can see, and I don't take s**t from anyone. It was election year and "Obama" was the way I pulled people in. I was being somewhat manipulative; in addition, I was bored."
JE: Hilarious. Controversial. Rude. Intelligent. Always knowing what to say. Not knowing the right time to not say anything. Any of those properly applies to Bardock Obama, especially after years of "Bush did 9/11" and "so and so trigger" tweets. What went into the decision, when you first made all of the pages, to be so blunt and really, just plain honest, with your humor?
B: "In my adult years, I made it my mission to always keep it real. I am the man many people gravitate to because they may be in a position where they have to be censored but a man like me says what he or she is thinking. When I developed my platform, I said 'f**k it' who's going to tell me what to say and what not to say? Fact of the matter is, when we look down to it, people are so scared to say whats on their mind because perception is a reality and they fear they will be perceived in a negative manner. I decided to turn that into a position. My fans, my squad knows they can turn to me and ask me anything knowing they're going to get a straight forward answer. We need more of that."
JE: Obviously this summer, we covered the mini-war that Ghostbusters director Paul Feig started with you. Looking back on it months later, do you look at the situation any differently or are you still in the "Feig was triggered because people didn't like his movie."
B: "I still see it as a man who knew what he was doing, tried to get away with it, failed, and tries to point the finger at everyone else but himself for his massive failure."
JE: Did anyone from Sony or Feig's camp ever reach out and try to make amends after what happened?
B: "No one reached out to me but I did get blocked by many of these fanatics."
JE: So should reviewers or people with a voice now have to fear making their opinions heard because of what happened with you, where you nearly lost your Twitter because a director lost it?
B: "No, people should be even more obliged to speak up. Consequences happen at the minority because it's easy to get rid of a handful of people and pacify us when we are we in numbers. But if more people banded together and showed others we won't settle for less. Then we won't get less, like Ghostbusters. We deserve the best as PAYING fans."
JE: Speaking of Twitter, I'd have to think the majority of your followers are probably within the 14-25 age scale, especially those who have been longtime fans since 2012 or 2013. With such a large fanbase, has there ever been any pressure on you to be almost like a role model or guide some of the younger fans in the right direction?
B: "My fans are ranging from 17-31, 52% male according to my Facebook analytics. No pressure. I know I have a strong influence. I live my life as good of a person as I can be and treat others how I like to be treated. I think my fans know the basics, don't lie, don't cheat' don't steal. As often as I joke, I try to put info out there that can help everyone live a happier, and honest life."
JE. I think one of the things that draws so many fans to you is the way you handle trolls where you essentially eviscerate them, but some could make the case you go too far. Take a tweet about Xenoverse 2, for example, where you called a troll out and said he was holding an "failed abortion" in his hands. You've always been someone to say what's on your mind but even then, what goes into the decision to go so over the line?
B: "I am a very sharp person. How I am online is how I am in person. Imagine in person, getting punched in the face, and just curling up in a ball to just cry? I'll never allow someone to be their victim. I fight back. Talk s**t, get hit, simple. As for that dude, he should've pulled out before talking s**t.
JE: Last thing on this topic, and that's censorship. How do we as people with voices, me with writing and you with your gaming and social media fandom, need to best handle censorship in a time where everything is so politically correct?
B: "I think in doses. The mistake people make is they try so hard to change the world overnight. What we need to do is continue to be ourselves: people with loud voices."
JE: Let's talk Dragon Ball Super, because I need to talk about it with someone who knows what they're talking about. As it stands, what has DB Super done that you like and what does it need to fix?
B: "Dragon Ball Super has revived the hype that I felt sitting on my living room floor as a kid watching Dragon Ball Z on Toonami after school. It found a balance between old school and modern day to keep veterans to the series interested while bringing in the new generation. What does it need to fix? Inconsistent animation and Gohan. He's trash now."
JE: I've heard some people argue that DB Super has helped save the franchise after a couple of bad specials, some bad video games, and GT; are you in that boat as well?
B: "No. Dragon Ball Super is a product of resurgence that came from the Japanese exclusive game Dragon Ball Heroes. Because of Heroes, the film Battle of Gods came out and birthed the hype and demand for a new series: Super. The franchise didn't need any saving; our community is stronger and growing even more long before Super released. What Dragon Ball Super did was solidify the series as number 1. Look what it did to Crunchyroll; it was the first series on the site to crash the site due to the amount of people tuning in to view it."
JE: Has DB Super, to you, carved out its own niche in the Dragon Ball fandom and franchise now or, years later, is it just going to be looked at as a slightly better GT?
B: "Anything is better than GT except the live action film, 'Dragon Ball Evolution.' Years from now, [Super] will be known as the series that proved the franchise is alive and can come back after 20+ years to kick a**."
JE: What are your initial thoughts on Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2?
B: "I got the game a week early, and I beat it a few days later. Not because it was short but because it was so fun for me. Far better than the first one. Fans are in for a treat."
JE: You're stuck in a fox hole with one person. Who are you picking?
B: "Donald Trump. Why? Because I can wear his alien toupee that'll keep me alive and grant me powers to escape, and run for presidency."
JE. If you had to give some final advice for our readers to just one or two sentences, what would they be?
B: "9/11 was a perpetuated by our own government to invade the Middle East. 9/11 was a controlled demolition."
I'd like to thank Bardock for taking some time out of his busy schedule dealing with trolls and fighting online characters to talk with me. You can follow Bardock on Twitter at @TheBardockObama and subscribe to his YouTube channel here.
[Featured Image by Bardock Obama]