YouTuber JonTron Has Incited Centrist Controversy His Whole Career and Faced Few Consequences

The gaming YouTuber and former Game Grumps collaborator has incited controversy with his problematic political views.

Callie (Carlos) Cadorniga - Author

Aug. 9 2023, Published 1:40 p.m. ET

The Gist:

  • In April 2013, gaming YouTuber Jon "JonTron" Jafari (formerly of the Game Grumps channel) used several racial slurs in a video.
  • JonTron has been involved in several other controversies, including making prejudicial comments about immigrants, making baseless and racist comments regarding crime statistics in the U.S., and sharing anti-vax sentiments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In April 2013, Game Grumps — a popular gaming YouTube channel originally hosted by Arin "Egoraptor" Hanson and Jon "JonTron" Jafari — uploaded Part 36 of their ongoing Let's Play series of Sonic the Hedgehog. By this point, the channel had gained massive popularity since launching a year prior in 2012. In the video, JonTron dropped a series of racial slurs in succession. Arin tried to defuse the situation while recording, to which JonTron responded by doubling down with more racial slurs.

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The episode was originally uploaded with heavy censorship and ultimately removed from the channel altogether. It has since been uploaded through other unofficial sources. Months after the video was uploaded, JonTron left the show to pursue a solo YouTube career and was replaced by Dan Avidan.

That was easily the first instance in which JonTron began to publicly show signs of his highly-problematic behavior. What did JonTron do in the years since Game Grumps? Things have only gotten worse.

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What did JonTron do? The YouTuber has incited several controversies.

After leaving Game Grumps, JonTron began running his own YouTube channel labeled "JonTronShow." On his self-named show, he uploads reviews and critiques of games, movies, and shows while incorporating elements of sketch comedy into his videos. As of this writing, his channel has over 6.68 million subscribers. He has also appeared as a guest on several other YouTube channels and has even provided voiceover in video games.

Throughout his career, however, JonTron has sparked plenty of controversy with his political remarks. In 2017, he publicly defended Republican politicians as they decried immigrants in the United States, stating: "Nobody wants to become a minority in their own country."

"If they immigrate, they need to integrate, but also we don't need immigrants from incompatible places," JonTron once publicly stated as a guest on someone else's Twitch stream.

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In defense of his remarks, JonTron would later post a follow-up on JonTronShow, where he would continue by stating that he believes white people face a double standard when it comes to racism in the United States. He would also make the baseless claim that wealthy Black Americans commit more crimes than poor white Americans.

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Shortly following these statements, JonTron was coincidentally removed as an active member from his alternate YouTube channel NormalBoots, though he was still instated as a founder. Though his co-creators have stated that his removal had nothing to do with his political remarks, this would be the second time in his career that he would be removed from a YouTube channel following his own statements.

Unfortunately, he hasn't exactly let up in the years that followed. In 2021, the YouTuber began voicing skepticism over COVID-19 vaccinations that could easily be construed as anti-vax sentiments. He began spreading misinformation suggesting that Dr. Anthony Fauci's administration was responsible for the COVID-19 outbreak. He also aggressively questioned the efficacy of vaccines, which many believed to be an argument against getting vaccinated.

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Again, he would attempt to clarify his remarks in a follow-up statement. In essence, he tried to argue that he was contributing to public debate as a centrist observer trying to understand both sides of the vaccine debate. His remarks were met with both support and criticism in equal measure.

Yet despite the number of times JonTron has been criticized for his online behavior and his own lackluster response to it, it has had little blowback on his career. He still enjoys a regular online public presence and his YouTube channel even has more subscribers than Game Grumps. His upload schedule is sporadic, but he continues to post regularly on his social media platforms to his loyal fanbase.

However, he has managed to avoid making public controversial statements in the years following his COVID-19 scandal.

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