The popular electronic musician Pogo, whose real name is Christopher Nicholas “Nick” Bertke, stunned fans — and if online comments are any indicator, lost many as well — with a video posted to YouTube earlier this month. The video showed the EDM star ranting against gay people and even calling the 2016 massacre of 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, “fantastic,” a sentiment he celebrated with a fist bump.
The video post to Bertke’s YouTube channel is dated May 2, but the video’s privacy settings were “unlisted,” meaning that the video did not show up in an ordinary search. But a user of the online message board Reddit found and linked to the video, according to the gay news site Queerty. As a result, the video was reported on several sites, and made the rounds of social media Thursday, generating outrage and stunned responses from fans of the 30-year-old South African native who now lives in Australia.
Bertke’s online videos have received a reported 160 million views, and his music has been licensed for Pixar animated films, as well as the popular cartoons, Spongebob Squarepants, Pokemon, and others, according to the cultural criticism site Waxy.
What did Bertke say in the two-minute, 42-second video that caused the outrage? Answering a question that he says he receives frequently from fans, who ask why he named his YouTube channel using a slur against gay people, Bertke set off on what can only be described as a hate-filled tirade. Watch the video below, but viewers should be warned, the language and content is offensive.
“I’ve always had a very thorough dislike of homosexuals,” Bertke says in the video. “I’ve never liked a grown man acting like a 12-year-old girl. I’ve always found that to be quite disgusting. And so I thought to myself, how best can I express to the world that gays are just an abomination?”
He then goes on to express his feelings about the Pulse nightclub massacre, in which on June 12, 2016, a gunman opened fire inside a gay-oriented dance club in Orlando, murdering 49 people.
“I have a fairly robust resentment of the gay community. I don’t want to really get into this, but when there was the Orlando shooting and the guy was shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ or something, I was like —.” At that point, Bertke pumps his fist in the video.
“But yeah, I’ve got to be a bit careful with that because well, you know, I don’t like gays, but I don’t want to see people getting killed in nightclubs either. But still, I mean, it’s just fantastic,” he says.
Bertke’s fans, and even non-fans, on Twitter reacted with a range of stunned disappointment and bitter sarcasm.
I've been a fan for over 6 years now. I will never listen to your music again for as long as I live.
— Oomles' Cool Corner (@OomlesArt) May 31, 2018
Did Ambien make you say it?! pic.twitter.com/1XF9DdH8oa
— elleBizzle (@laurabuchanan__) May 31, 2018
Homophobic, garbage person. pic.twitter.com/heyPFpV1LP
— JOEY★PURPLE (@joeypurple) May 31, 2018
Just learned about the existence of @NickBertke and I wish I could go back in time to not knowing this heaping pile of garbage was living and breathing on the same planet as us. Misogynistic, homophobic, hateful scum.
— RL RUNESCAPE GF????E3 (@bunnybattleaxe) May 31, 2018
a celebration of terrorism against American civilians is what I heard.
— jonathan sims (@simsmode) May 31, 2018
— Lukas Merriweather (@Lankyshakes) May 31, 2018
Others wondered if the hateful comments toward gay people were an expression of Bertke’s self-hatred because, as Twitter commenters speculated, he may be gay himself and in a state of denial about his sexuality.
You're so gonna turn him on. We've seen it all before. It's all a smoke screen. He's gay and isn't coping. Let's give him space to come to terms with it.
— Rohan (@rohanrandall) May 31, 2018
Or " I am gay and going to try hard for people not to find out "
— Rohan (@rohanrandall) May 31, 2018
Usually those who tend to make hateful comments about the gay community tend to be closeted themselves.. sure you aren’t gay yourself Nick??
— Kunal Ahuja (@kahuja79) May 31, 2018
In a later Facebook comment that was posted in screen-capture form by a Twitter user, Bertke attempted to explain away the rant by saying he was trying to “impersonate the far right and create hysteria.” He compared himself to the late comedian and performance artist Andy Kaufman, who was known for intentionally provoking and angering audiences.
But Bertke has caused similar controversy before by expressing hateful views in an online video. In a 2015 YouTube video titled “Why I Don’t Take Feminism Seriously,” Bertke advocated treating women with “discipline, reprimand and complete indifference.” Bertke later explained away the video as a “social experiment,” according to the music news site, YourEDM.