Should A Morbidly Obese YouTuber Be Our ‘American Ambassador’ At The Studio 71 Mansion? [OP-ED]

Steven Williams, better known as gamer Boogie2988 on YouTube, is all set to get international. And that raises an interesting question: Is a hyper-obese man on a Rascal scooter (possibly a “Jazzy” — I didn’t get a good look at VidCon) with an “aw shucks”-style midwestern accent be the YouTube image of Americans we want to promote to zee Germans?

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The European MCN Studio 71 has planted a flag on American soil with their “Mansion.” Really, it’s just a 5-bedroom house, but calling it a “mansion” gives it a swingin’ vibe. From the Mansion, there is sort of a “Real World” thing going on as the daily actions of gamer/creators like Gronkh and Sarazar are captured for the world. It’s an experiment in international relations — the equivalent of pilgrims setting up shop in a foreign land and reporting on the scene.

The Germans, the four living at the Mansion at least, are all young, fit, outgoing and attractive. Some of them are blonde, one of them coolly smokes cigarettes and plays guitar (Sarazar). So you might see how extreme it is that a plus-400 pound man who largely stays in his Arkansas home might paint a certain picture of what an American is. From the extremely large outside, the guy seems to embody the very stereotype that foreigners have created about Mc’Mericans. He isn’t even living in the Mansion with them; nope, he’ll be reporting in from the flyover states, unable to laugh and play and participate in the daily hijinks of the German youth. It could be the most embarrassing thing for our country’s national image since we spat forth the KFC Double Down.

And yet, it’s brilliant. From a superficial standpoint, Boogie2988 appears to embody the worst that American excess has to offer — Boogie even does bits with a character called “Francis” who is exactly that narcissistic, whiny, spoiled fat man-child you feel like the rest of the world already sees us as. But Boogie2988 in actuality is a very intelligent and well-spoken man — exactly the kind of person who shows that there is a human within a stereotype. Boogie knows who he is and what he appears to be to outsiders and does not shirk away from it. Obesity is a (wait for the obvious pun) huge issue in America (and Germany now too). Imagine the good that can be achieved by people realizing that we are not “just” our stereotypes, but that there is a real person with feelings and struggles riding around on that scooter. Hopefully something more than a mutual love of video games comes out of Boogie’s interaction with the Mansion. Hopefully, a global conversation about a humane way of dealing with our collective health comes out of it.
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