A prominent YouTuber has branded Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) “the biggest troll in internet history” and called for “every celebrity actor, athlete, and influencer” to burn their ‘Nazi’ Apes.
In a video published on Monday, investigator Philip Rusnack — also known as Philion — criticized BAYC for what he claims is the collection’s overt use of racist imagery and obvious far-right symbolism.
Claims of BAYC’s ties to racism aren’t new. Back in January of this year, conceptual artist and programmer, Ryder Ripps compiled an extensive list of ‘issues’ with BAYC and its designs. These included similarities between the project’s logo and a Nazi emblem, various theories around the founders’ names, and even the fact that the project officially launched on April 30 — the date of Hitler’s death.
But the new hour-long video has thrust the claims back into the spotlight, calling BAYC “one massive alt-right inside joke.”
The video states upfront that the very nature of BAYC is to be esoteric. In other words, it’s meant to be understood only by “a select number of people with specialized knowledge.” In this case, those who are “terminally online,” and “pockets of deranged people.”
From there the video delves into a dense web of not only Nazi symbolism but internet meme culture, 4Chan forums, and trolling.
Of course, many of the points, as Rusnack acknowledges, could be coincidences or at the very least subject to plausible deniability. However, his argument rests on the fact that the sheer weight of his ‘evidence’ proves that something more sinister is going on.
“If I bring up one instance that highlights deliberate Nazi, fascist, or alt-right messaging, you may think to yourself, ‘I see it, but that’s a reach.’ So I ask you: What is your number? At what point do all of these examples become crystal clear in front of your eyes?” he asks.
The video ends with Rusnack calling on Bored Ape holders to take a stand and burn their tokens. Or in his words, “make such a f*cking shit storm that everyone from Steph Curry to Post Malone to Jimmy Fallon is forced to act.”
Unfortunately for him, with even allegedly Nazi Apes having a floor price of 84 ETH (nearly $98,000) at the time of publication, getting anybody to go along with with his plan might not be so easy.
Ripps’ links may be tenuous but some Apes are still pretty dodgy
Yuga Labs responded to these theories back in January this year, calling Ripps’ accusations “deeply painful” and “disturbing.”
However, those who believe they do have some weight were backed up in part by experts from the Anti-Defamation League’s Centre for Extremism. While the ADL said many links made by Ripps were “tenuous,” it did say, “a ‘hip hop’ trait (which gives apes a gold chain and gold teeth) and a ‘sushi chef headband’ are both problematic,” (via Input).
It’s worth noting that Ripps has also come under fire from those who don’t understand why, if BAYC exhibits such close ties to Nazi and far-right ideas and imagery, he launched his own collection of derivative NFTs called RR/BAYC and comprising more than 6,000 NFTs based on the original Apes.
In his defense, Ripps claims this collection was satire and designed to raise awareness.