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Pokimane responds to "clout chasing" backlash for using VTuber model

by Matt Porter

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Imane 'Pokimane' Anys has responded to criticism from a portion of the VTuber community who are upset at the Twitch star's decision to start using an animated 3D model of herself when streaming without a camera, with some claiming she is attempting to "cash in" on a trend. 

Pokimane announced back on August 5 that she was taking a month-long break from streaming, citing burnout from overworking as the main reason for her stepping away, admitting that she hadn't taken a month off since she graduated high school six years ago.

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After weeks of silence on social media, the streamer, who boasts over five million followers on Twitch, announced her big return and broadcasted for the first time since her decision to step away on Friday, September 11. Quickly, thousands tuned in to watch her play Among Us with Ninja, CouRageJD, and the Offline TV & Friends crew.

Just two days after her return, Pokimane is facing criticism from the VTuber community, who use a digital avatar generated by computer graphics to represent themselves in YouTube videos and livestreams, after debuting her own version which she intends to use during days where she doesn't feel like appearing on camera.

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Pokimane's VTuber 3D model.
Twitch: Pokimane
Pokimane commissioned a special VTuber version of herself to use during livestreams.

VTubers allow streamers and content creators to show a virtual representation of themselves without specifically revealing their face, and has built a tightly-knit community online.

As VTubers become more and more popular, it's no surprise that some existing creators are interested in using the idea for themselves. However, Pokimane's decision to do so has annoyed some sections of the VTuber community, who lashed out at the 24-year-old after she posted a clip of her new model on Twitter.

"You're cashing in on a trend," wrote one disgruntled fan. "You are already famous and have shown your face. Why now? We work our hearts out. There are so many small VTubers that deserve recognition! You are hopping on a trend and saturating it more! How dare you!"

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Others claimed that Pokimane was attempting to use the launch of the English language version of Hololive on September 8, an agency of VTubers with 2.6 million subscribers, to gain followers and viewers.

"It might seem ridiculous," they replied, "but the way she timed it the day after HololiveEN launched just makes it fully seem like she is just doing it for clout, and that doesn't sit well us."

Pokimane quickly addressed the criticism she was facing, saying repeatedly that she didn't want to do anything that would hurt members of the VTuber community. The creator shouted out some of the numerous creators who had been doing it for years, before explaining the reasons she decided to do it.

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"I understand where you're coming from, and you're absolutely entitled to that opinion," the OfflineTV member responded. "I don't want to encroach on the VTuber community, and I mentioned that anyone interested should check the numerous creators that have been doing it for years.

"In my opinion, this is sort of the future, and I think it's so cool and a great alternative for anyone that doesn't want to use a camera for whatever reason. I hope to partake in a respectful manner, and I respect that you or others may not support me. I'll be listening to people's feedback and doing my best to be considerate."

While the streamer did face some hostility, many lept to her defence, including long-time friend LilyPichu. They stated: "Poki being popular with a VTuber model is not the reason why there are many small, hardworking VTubers who don't get recognition," calling the criticism "unnecessary gatekeeping."

VTuber Serotina expressed her confusion at people being mad at Pokimane despite her giving full credit to the artist and being super respectful about the community.

Whether this will stop Pokimane from using her new VTuber model in the future remains to be seen, but the streamer has stated that she intended to use it during days where she doesn't feel like appearing on camera.