If you've spent much time on social media since the lockdown began in mid-March, you may well have noticed the phrase "OK Dude" is being used more than usual recently. Here, we investigate what it is, and why it is important.
Yesterday, on the 15th of May, Southampton-based rapper Zuby released a music video for his new single "OK Dude". Within the song, Zuby directs lyrics towards the modern socio-political climate - discussing freedom of speech, or lack thereof, victim mentality and other issues. A particularly assertive four bars in the track proclaims:
"I think socialism sucks and every government is shady // I'm not down with open borders, I'm not cool with killing babies // There aren't infinite genders and a man can't be a lady // And you know that it's the truth so why you looking at me crazy?"
Whether you agree with Zuby's conservative-minded perspectives or not, the song itself is a masterpiece - it's possibly the first piece of independently-produced media that can be placed into cultural context and used as 'a sign of the times' in the 2020s. But what earned the song its title? Zuby gave a hint in an interview with SOuthside last month.
"I’m sure you saw that whole situation with me getting kicked off of Twitter for saying ‘OK Dude’, so firstly I turned it into a t-shirt and I was like okay, I need to turn this into a song. The song isn’t directly about that, but it’s inspired by it."
In February of this year, Zuby put out a tweet to his >200,000 followers that gave general advice to women on "how to land a great guy". The advice included such things as having long hair, and knowing how to cook.
Passionate anti-fascism activist Emily Gorcenski, who at that time was posting under the nom de twitter of "Pronoun Enforcer", replied to the tweet, claiming: "I'm like 95% sure I'm sleeping with more women than you and this is terrible advice".
Zuby quote tweeted this, responding with "OK dude..." - allegedly unaware that Gorcenski is a supposed transgender woman. Gorcenski took offence to this, and reported Zuby; getting the rapper banned from twitter.
But what is the significance of this interaction, besides resulting in a cool song?
As in the slideshow above, after Zuby replied with OK dude and got banned from Twitter, Gorcenski celebrated the fact by saying "Lol misogynist down. Pronouns enforced." While this may seem like a trivial dispute over contradicting opinions, it could actually signify something on a much larger scale.
Twitter held Zuby banned until he deleted the original tweet. "There was no other option", he told the Washington Examiner. There was outrage on Twitter which led to Gorcenski receiving many, many more replies to her tweets from countless individuals calling her 'dude'. It was also pointed out that Gorcenski has used the word 'dude' informally in many of her own, unrelated tweets - so why is it that Gorcenski took the time to try and get Zuby kicked off of Twitter for using the same, inoffensive word? And why would Twitter review the situation, and make the decision to ban him?
Some have speculated that certain LGBTQ+, or similar, activists often take things 'too far' when it comes to getting people kicked off social media sites - part of a new concept referred to as 'cancel culture'. Gorcenski didn't like what Zuby said, so she tried to get him kicked off the platform; which she succeeded in doing so, Zuby finding himself banned for saying "OK dude..."
What this anecdote represents is a shift towards a frightening level of language control on a macro scale. It's not just this one incident - but there's a 'Zuby' and a 'Gorcenski' character in many different situations. While the person playing the 'Zuby' role can get forced out of a social media site for saying a few core lexis, everyday, non-abusive words, the person in the role of 'Gorcenski' is lended the power to dictate who is allowed to say what in these situations - even while under such a moniker as "Pronouns Enforcer", an unreserved and self-appointed title for somebody who is overtly dedicated to controlling the language of others.
Although there are always exemptions for any rule, many of the 'pronoun enforcers' and such things similar are those who regard themselves to be 'liberal'. To those who identify as 'conservative', the few who play the role of Gorcenski in situations such as the OK Dude example often dampen the image of any others who also lean to the left of the political scale - those who, perhaps, may disagree with Zuby on certain issues but do not attempt to 'cancel' everyone that they don't agree with.
What Zuby's new single represents is not only the contrary position to the agenda pushed forth by the more radical liberals and the media entities who face their morality being scrutinised if they fail to conform, but it is also representative of the atmosphere online in 2020. Whichever side of the 'OK Dude' dispute you agree with more, and whether or not you align yourself with Zuby's headstrong lyrics; what this song and the phrase 'OK Dude' stand for is far bigger than one Twitter argument, and lot can be learned from the situation as a whole.
It seems as though a new movement, those speaking out to protect their freedom of speech, may be imminent. Whatever your take is - such a movement could soon be necessary.