A horrific video from ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ has become a flash point for what’s acceptable on YouTube

Red Dead Redemption 2

  • The latest open-world game from the folks behind “Grand Theft Auto” is “Red Dead Redemption 2.” It’s available now on Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
  • The game is set in 1899 America, albeit a fictionalized version. As such, there are period-appropriate characters filling its world: Cowboys and Pinkerton detectives and women’s rights activists.
  • Due to the nature of “Red Dead Redemption 2” as an open-world game, players can interact with those characters in both passive and — as one viral video demonstrates — extremely violent ways.

The folks behind “Grand Theft Auto” are once again embroiled in controversy over their latest game.

This time, the game is “Red Dead Redemption 2,” and the controversy isn’t related to a secret bit of code. Instead, the controversy surrounds a YouTube video that exploded in popularity named, “Red Dead Redemption 2 – Beating Up Annoying Feminist.” 

In the video, YouTube creator Shirrako’s character briefly speaks with a women’s rights activist — then he punches her in the face.

The video is just one minute and thirty seconds long. It has over 1.6 million views as of this writing:

YouTube

Just like “Grand Theft Auto” before it, “Red Dead Redemption 2” allows players to interact with any characters in its vast, open-world environment. 

Thus, when you encounter the women’s rights activist above in the streets of Saint Denis — the game’s approximation of New Orleans circa 1899 — you’re able to speak with her, or to trample her with your horse, or, as this player did, punch her in the face.

Read moreA horrific glitch in ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ is turning one road into a mass horse grave

The game doesn’t encourage this behavior; in fact, it discourages that behavior actively with its “Wanted” system. The more illegal stuff you do — like accosting a stranger in the street of a major city — the more hostile the world is to you. Bounty hunters will chase you down, and shop owners may not interact with you. Being a maniac in “Red Dead Redemption 2” isn’t very rewarding.

That of course isn’t stopping players from doing it anyway, and it certainly isn’t stopping YouTube video makers from capturing footage of that stuff for salaciously-titled videos like, “Beating Up Annoying Feminist” or “Annoying Feminist Fed To Alligator” — another popular video on this particular YouTube creator’s channel.

Red Dead Redemption 2

What counts as ‘gratuitous violence’?

In a surprising twist, YouTube took down the videos in question — and then reinstated the videos hours later.

According to YouTube, the video and the channel where it was hosted were violating community guidelines. 

“After review, we’ve determined that activity in your account violated our Community Guidelines, which state that the promotion or display of gratuitous violence is not acceptable on our site,” a letter from YouTube to the channel’s owner said, according to Motherboard.

But, as the YouTube creator points out, his channel is full of videos depicting gratuitous violence in video games. Indeed, any video depicting gameplay from games like “God of War” or “Mortal Kombat” is, by its nature, full of gratuitous violence.

“You literally rip characters apart in ‘Mortal Kombat,'” he told Motherboard. “Why are those videos allowed and what I made is ban worthy?”

That said, there’s obviously a difference between content intended to provoke a response — like a video tailored specifically around violently attacking a women’s rights activist — and the kind of violence depicted in games like “God of War.”

Business Insider reached out to YouTube for clarification, but have yet to hear back as of publishing.

SEE ALSO: A horrific glitch in ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ is turning one road into a mass horse grave

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