(originally published on May 14, 2018)
When I first heard of Battening, it was through word of mouth from YouTube’s “Skeptic Community.” Eventually, I witnessed a livesteam he was in, (which you’ll learn about in a minute) and he earned my respect right away. I’ve never regretted it since.
Just like others I’ve interviewed, we may not see eye-to-eye on major issues, but that doesn’t matter at the end of the day. If you let things like that get in the way, then it may stop you from getting to know some wonderful people, Battening is no different.
Please enjoy my interview I did with him and I strongly encourage you to check out his Channel and subscribe afterward!
1. What made you decide to start a YouTube Channel and to go into the Skeptic Community? Did you have any concerns before starting?
I found this ‘genre’ when one of my friends introduced me to Armoured Skeptic some years ago. I became a big fan of his and found some people like Chris Ray Gun, and Undoomed shortly after.
When I started my channel, it was actually called “Atheist Vox” (cringy, right?). I was going to do science-based videos debunking Christianity, Islam, and pseudoscience, mostly because I’ve been a science enthusiast since I can remember, and that I was a fan of channels like Armoured Skeptic, Logicked, King Crocoduck, etc.
Unfortunately the religious debunk area kind of dried up and there wasn’t a lot left to debunk. It was kind of where anti-SJW stuff is at currently. But I found a Laci Green video that I thought was easy for a first video and away I went (I wouldn’t recommend watching it unless you love bad videos).
As for concerns, my only concern was my work finding out. Working for a Fortune 500 company, I figured it would be a massive no-no and I’d be fired. I’ve become less worried but I still choose anonymity just to play it safe. Fun side note: I originally didn’t think my channel would ever gain traction, even as recently as before my No Bullshit video. I had a face reveal in that video until I pulled it last second because it didn’t really fit well. After a death threat from that video, I’m VERY glad I pulled it from the video.
2. One of the reasons why I wanted to reach out to you is that there seems to be a lot of people within the Skeptic Community that don’t believe we’re in the middle of a “rape culture” (a predominantly Leftist belief.) I’m of the opinion that we are in the middle of a rape culture, but we clearly have not focused on the ENTIRE problem. For example, women aren’t the only ones affected, and it’s not at all true that women are “incapable” of doing such horrendous acts such as rape. It greatly upsets me that not only are female sex offenders given a slap on the wrist (like Mary Kay Letourneau) or their cases are swept under the rug. So, I don’t believe this is girl’s only issue and that only men are capable of such crimes. What are your thoughts and I encourage you to disagree with me because that’s the only way we’re truly going to achieve an open dialogue.
I don’t believe the notion that we’re in a “rape culture.” For me, a culture of rape would imply that rape is encouraged, condoned, accepted, or legally unpunished. This isn’t what we have in America. We have a culture that is not only making rape a staple in the public eye with the current MeToo and Time’s Up movements, but’s we’ve crossed the point of ruining careers and costing jobs over mere accusations.
Now, I wouldn’t diminish the claims of all who’ve come forward, I would sympathize with the majority of them, but cases such as the Duke lacrosse team and Aziz Ansari show us how accusations can effectively ruin reputations and possibly careers.
Now I do believe a rape culture exists, a very serious one, and that’s in the Middle East. A culture where a woman can be raped and face punishment for it. I simply don’t think it’s reasonable to say there’s a legitimate rape culture in America.
3. We’ll have one more controversial topic while you’re here. (Yay, let’s get more uncomfortable!) I don’t believe in taking away everyone’s guns, and by no means do I believe in an overall gun ban. I do believe in an increase in background checks, a ban on assault rifles unless they are used for the military/FBI, etc. no longer sell bump stocks and a there’s a lot more, but you get the general idea. This is where I would like to hear your thoughts, and if you disagree with me then maybe I can learn something (it’s why I started watching the Skeptic Community’s videos in the first place!).
I see both sides, it’s an incredibly hard subject to debate because there are simply too many variables. If you were to buy an island, and put me in charge, I would make guns illegal. It’s as simple as that.
But when you’re talking about a place like America, where there’s what…300, 400 millions guns? It’s simply impossible for me to have the same opinion. It’s not a reasonable outcome to even consider.
I’m not an expert on the subject (which is why you’ll probably never hear me talk about it), but I would certainly be in favor of an age requirement of 25, a ban on bump stocks, and a ban on assault rifles. Will any of that happen? Probably not. Bump stocks have a chance to be outlawed, but I’m sure someone could make one in a garage out of a pop can and rubber bands if they really wanted to.
Also, I would personally like to see all teachers armed with bazookas. It’s probably our best option.
4. Time for a lighter topic! My favorite video of yours was “South Park Doesn’t Care About My Feels!” I laughed so hard it hurt! I do agree with the points you were making. Although I personally don’t care for the show, I have to give it credit for taking on jokes that a lot of people were too afraid of making at the time. (Such as their episode about the cult of Scientology). Still, considering the subject of your video did not allow any type of discussion on her channel, did you ever hear back from her or anyone who watches her videos?
Nope, well kind of. I did two videos responding to Ginny. One was this South Park video, the other was on her “punch anyone you consider a Nazi” video. The South Park video was fun because I’ve been a huge South Park fan since I was 6, back in 1997. Since then I’ve never missed an episode. If you’re a big South Park fan, you’d probably know that the creators hide aliens in almost every episode. For this video I did the same thing. There’s probably 7-8 aliens hidden throughout the video, which made the video a bit more fun.
As for the other video on her, I thought it was funny to put a video of Ginny stripping in Vegas (an actual video) as a joke. I put black bars over the good parts but it was still flagged and I was given my first-ever strike.
As for your actual question, she deleted her channel sometime last year. I tried tweeting at her once but it was a no-go for conversation (I guess I can’t blame her after the stripper video).
5. What would you say has been your most controversial video so far and why do you think it got to that level?
I don’t know if I’ve done anything “controversial” but I’ve definitely done quite a few videos where I was worried about the reaction I’d get.
The first video where I thought there would be some backlash was actually my first ‘How to’ video on Tigero. He was a creator with 10,000 subs and I had a mere 500 subs. Luckily he had driven his channel into the ground and his fans seemed to enjoy my video.
Another video I was hesitant about was the video I did on Black Pigeon Speaks. Not only because I knew his fans would show up like they always do (which they did), but because I was starting to make more videos on subjects that I cared more about. Less easy anti-SJW response videos and more in-depth videos on subjects I cared more about. I actually had Woz Lee watch it before I released it, just to make sure it wasn’t terrible. He gave some good feedback, I tweaked some things, and I think it turned out pretty well.
The big one was my No Bullshit video. I had several good friends who were good friends with him as well, which was actually the idea behind the “drawing a line in the sand” intro. Fortunately I think most of those people saw my video, listened to the points, and realized that their friend had done some shitty things. I certainly never expected it to blow up like it did, so I’m glad I released it. I’ve come to find that when I’m hesitant to release something, it turns out to be my best work.
6. I had an enormous amount of respect for you (and still do) when you took on “No Bullshit” during an Andy Waraski live stream. I found it admirable that you not only called him out on his hypocrisy but when he tried to avoid answering, you wouldn’t allow him to get away with it. How did people react to you from both inside the Skeptic Community and the overall fanbase after the live stream?
I actually hate that stream, it’s my worst moment on YouTube, in my opinion. I came in way too hot because of his doxxing accusations earlier that day. I probably shouldn’t have gone on, I knew exactly what he would do, and he did exactly that.
Overall I think it actually helped my case, though. That was actually the second stream we had been on together regarding my video (the first being the Cunstream on Schmeckle’s channel). Brooks (No Bullshit) hadn’t watched my video (and to this day I still don’t think he’s watched it), and he was just doing everything I said he’d do in response. It felt pretty good calling out someone’s moves before they did them, and watching him prove every point in my video correct.
But let’s just be thankful that out of everything…250,000 views, 15,000 new subscribers, over 10,000 likes…the “he went to college” meme is still alive and well. I take pride in helping start the movement.
7. I’ve seen that you collaborated with other people in the Skeptic Community in past videos. Will there be any more collabs in the future? (ThyNameIsSkeppy, perhaps?) Would you consider doing a collab with someone outside of your Community?
I like her, she makes some really good content. As for collabs, I don’t know if I’ll ever do another traditional “collab” video, where we basically do half the video each. Lately I’ve done more collaborations in the form of behind-the-scenes help, and cameos in my videos. For example I just had ZoeDoesLife (she’s awesome, check her out) in my channel update video last week. She provided a great voice for my “800-SAVE-A-RUBIN” infomercial. I also have about 8 really awesome creators involved in my next big project, which, without giving too much detail, will have them showcasing their acting abilities in ads sponsored by the video’s subject. It should be pretty fun to see once it’s finished.
I like these style of collaborations because it allows me to make the video I want to make, while including some of my friends in the video in a fun way. It’s also a lot more collaborating than “Ok, I’ll do half the video, send it over to you, and you finish it.” It sometimes takes days or weeks of working with the other creator to figure out how we can make something really good, and really funny, with a good point behind it. It’s just a lot funner in my experiences.
8. Has there ever been a topic for a video that you thought would get a lot of views, but you felt like it was going down a path you were personally uncomfortable with and didn’t want to draw more attention to this subject?
Absolutely. I have a checklist of topics I’d love to cover. I started it when I first started my channel, but some of the topics I just don’t feel I’m qualified to talk about in detail. One being anti-vaxxers. I’ve done a lot of research on this, I know their arguments, I know the studies, and I feel I could make a decent video. But then I see videos from creators like Jeff Holiday, and I think these types of videos should be left to people who are much smarter than me on this subject.
9. I know that you are busy in your personal life right now, but what can we expect from you in 2018 and where do you see your Channel going in the future? Is there anything you’d like to achieve professionally (both on and off YouTube) that you haven’t yet?
I’d love to do this full-time, but I’m a long ways off from that. I have a pretty good job so I’d probably have to hit a few hundred thousand views per video, maybe millions due to my video schedule, to even consider quitting my job for YouTube.
As for 2018, I feel pretty good about it. I have one big video in the works that I’ve been working on for a few weeks now. As mentioned earlier, that video has cameos from quite a few creators, so I’m really excited for that, but I’m also excited to see the fully-finished video. I can’t imagine it’ll be 40 minutes like my No Bullshit video, but it should be a good video to catch when it comes out.
Besides that I’d like to start a few new series. Currently I have one with my ‘How to’ series, but I’d like to start a series picking a subject and ‘going down the rabbit hole’. I had this idea last year but couldn’t figure out how I wanted to do it. Then Armoured Skeptic came out with a similar series where he looked at UFOs and it kind of took the wind out of it for me. But who knows, I have a few ideas and you’ll see soon enough. As for my next ‘How to’ video, expect it (hopefully) sometime in May!
Thank you very much, Battening! It was such a pleasure getting to know you and you were quite the gentlemen. I also have no doubt you’ll be an excellent Dad. Both your girlfriend and yet-to-be-here child are lucky/blessed to have you. If you want to subscribe to his Channel (and I believe you should!), click here! You can donate to his Patron here. You can also follow him on Twitter here! Also, you can buy his merch here!