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Meet your internet troll IRL on new MTV reality series

MTV is looking for trolls and their victims to meet face-to-face in what should prove to be a drama-driven series called "Beyond the Keyboard." But what's its real purpose?

Casting call for victims of online trolls.
Critical Content

Unfortunately, too many of us have been harassed online by someone baiting us into hot-topic arguments or leaving abusive comments on our social media pages. But what if you could meet your worst internet tormenter in person?

A new reality series from Critical Content and the producers of the MTV show "Catfish" is looking for online enemies in an open casting call.

"Do you have an online troll that's making your life miserable? Are they going out of their way to comment on all your posts? Have you ever wanted to find out who's really behind the profile? We are looking for people who want to meet their online trolls face-to-face and get some answers," the "Catfish" casting Facebook page posted on April 21.

While this might sound like the perfect platform to address your worst troll experiences, apparently the show is trying to appeal to trolls as well. In fact, the producers are pitching the same show to male gamers who are "sick of fake gamer girls."

A Craigslist ad, which is no longer online, read, "Are you sick of fake gamer girls and 'boobie streamers' racking up huge followings on Twitch and YouTube while real gamer channels go unfollowed? Do you make sure to give them a piece of your mind in their live chats and comments sections? On our program, you'll have the opportunity to confront the phony gamer of your choosing face-to-face and show them what geek culture is really about."

The ad also says the producers were looking for people with strong opinions on such topics as "feminism, gaming, vegans, conspiracy theories, rival sports teams, Syrian refugees, immigration, Black Lives Matter, LGBT/trans issues, etc."


Casting call for online trolls.

Critical Content

How the show will portray trolls isn't clear from the casting calls. In fact, it almost looks like the series might be trying to encourage a reality TV version of the controversial Gamergate.

"To put it bluntly, this series will only serve to fuel hatred and further give terrible people more power than they already have now," Nick Valdez from gaming news blog Destructoid wrote. "The only ones I can see enjoying, or even conceiving this premise, are those who already exercise the horrible behavior this series wants to promote. Who thought it was a good idea to force an unwilling person to meet someone who's been viciously degrading them online? It's already hard enough for women in gaming."

In her post "Why I Said No To Being On MTV's Online Rival Show," journalist Rafaella Gunz reveals even more backstory about the show's casting process. The producers apparently contacted her after she publicly wrote about being harassed online. When she expressed interest in the show, they contacted her trolls without her permission, and she says that contact started up the harassment all over again.

"The show is not about 'turning negative into positive," Gunz wrote. "It's not about trying to eliminate cyberbullying. It's about creating drama for ratings. It's trying to bring together a bully with their victim for entertainment purposes. And get this: both the harasser and the harassee get paid $4,000 for their time. Essentially, the trolls are being rewarded for their bad behavior."

Both Critical Content and MTV declined to comment on the new show.

Mark Jafar, senior vice president of corporate communications at MTV, did tell Gunz that "Beyond the Keyboard" isn't currently slated for development by MTV. So this casting call could just be for the pilot Critical Content will use to pitch to the network.

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