Yuga Labs’ bored monkey development team denies allegations of racism

For some time now, the founders of NFT’s most successful group, the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC), have been accused of having hidden ideas and references to racial symbolism. Some of the explanations seem entirely plausible, with Yuga Labs denying any allegations.

According to a blog written by Gordon Gunner, founder of Yuga Labs, his company and products have been the victim of a crazy disinformation campaign. The inventor of the boring monkey, he said, was a group of Jewish, Turkish, Pakistani and Cuban friends who were wrongly accused of being far-right Nazis. These allegations are absurd conspiracy theories used to sell fake NFTs. Are the different parallels just coincidences or is there more to them?

The story of the origin of boredom monkeys

Yuga Labs founders’ letter revisits the origins of Bored Ape Yachting Club (BAYC). It also explains why Yuga created the first NFT group featuring bored monkeys. For a long time, people in the crypto world have been affectionately referring to themselves as monkeys because, like animals, they rush into new ventures, often in an animalistic way that you don’t even think about. This was evident in the 2017 Crypto Punks, as some of the rarest and most expensive NFTs in this group were monkey-themed.

2nd grade Crypto Punk monkey type trait / Source: cryptopunks.app

Yoga loved the idea of ​​creating an entire group around monkeys. They got so rich with the advent of cryptocurrencies that they became very bored. The monkey’s boredom ends when he manages to retire to a secret club in the swamp. This is how the fantasy yacht club was born in the depths of the Everglades. Monkeys are by no means derogatory references to other ethnic groups, they are used only as a playful self-label.

Alt-right allegations are spreading

With the recent allegations against Yuga Labs, GordonGoner.com has been created. It has been optimized in the name of the founder, Gordon Gunner, in order to disseminate information as easily as possible through search engines. At the moment, some “evidence” has been listed there of Yuga Labs’ alleged Nazi background ideas, which can only be partially refuted even after the development team’s explanation. The project dates may be due to a reporter’s misunderstanding, but the use of symbolism cannot be easily denied. Especially since the co-founder of Gargamel admitted in an interview that nothing in the collection is “random”.

Comparison of the BAYC badge and the Waffen SS logo / Source: GordonGoner.com

According to Gargamel, there is a cryptic meaning hidden in the set. It refers to the “iceberg theory”. This states that only a small part of the whole is visible and a large part is hidden. In the same interview, co-founder Ludwig Wittgenstein was quoted: “The ineffable must be conveyed ineffable.” It seems strange when they are just bored cartoon monkeys. Hidden meanings were not explained further and questions were avoided.

seashells pile up

In addition to monkey logos and motifs, the company’s name is also criticized: Yoga Lab. In Hindu cosmology, Kali Yuga is the name for the last four ages, which are marked by decay and destruction. As a result, the term has become an essential part of far-right ideology. Another tip? According to its founders, Yuga is inspired by the name of a villain in Zelda who has the ability to transform himself and others into 2D art. This makes perfect sense as a name for NFT and can, to some extent, invalidate the accusation.

Images of the Kali Yoga / Source: GordonGoner.com

However, it cannot be denied that many of the names and anagrams chosen by the founders of Yuga Labs are unfavorable. Regarding the ideologically charged names of well-known people of the National Socialist era, they have some similarities. Even Gargamel, a character from the Smurfs, has an anti-Semitic streak, according to some sources. The founders’ letter attempts to attribute this to chance and gives a correct interpretation of most of the names.

There is no clear case

As with many things, these allegations against the founders of the bored monkey are only a straightforward case. The symbolism chosen actually shows similarities and the number of coincidences is surprising. But the development team was able to refute some reasonably serious allegations. This in no way suggests Yuga Labs’ innocence, but it should suffice in the context of credible deniability.

Because half the claims of the GordonGoner.com operators seem far-fetched. For example, let the number of teeth on the monkey in the Bored Ape logo, 18, be an alphanumeric symbol for the name Adolf Hitler. Furthermore, banana arms are arranged like a swastika in their game. Or the company’s NFTs were published on the anniversary of Hitler’s death (April 30) – a somewhat incorrect accusation. In short, it can be said that there are reasonable arguments on both sides, and given the current situation it is difficult to reach a definitive conclusion.

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