Your Favourite YouTuber Might Be A Bad Person - What Do You Do Now?
9 May 2016, 14:54 | Updated: 17 July 2017, 12:16
What do you do when someone you're a fan of is accused of doing something horrible? We examine your options here
As smart as human beings think we are, there are some lessons we never learn - and if there is one lesson that we refuse to learn time and time again, it's that the world is almost never black and white - it's frustratingly, tragically grey. What do I mean by this? Well let's look at people. We all like to believe that there are two kinds of people: good people and bad people. We like good people and we dislike bad people - simple, right? Except this does not represent the world at all. People can rarely be pushed into simple boxes - sometimes good people do horrible things, and vice versa. So what do you do when you find out that someone you like, someone you're a fan of ... might be unpleasant?
Let's Apply This To YouTubers
Sometimes things are simple; when a YouTuber gets arrested for a horrible crime or is Sam Pepper, it is easy for a viewer to decide what to do - stop watching them. But even when the situation is relatively clear, it can be hard to let go. I was a huge fan of Alex Day for many years, I even managed to do a collab video with him about three years ago (how awesome that I've only done like three collab videos and one of them is with freaking Alex Day.). Long story short, I was a big fan of his and so were tons of people - but then things took a turn. Unsavoury accusations about his actions towards women began to surface (sound familiar?) and eventually he was effectively driven off YouTube. He's back now, but his audience is tiny compared to what it once was and he's still considered bad news by 99% of the community. I had to make the decision, as a viewer, to stop supporting someone who's actions I disagreed with. It wasn't a nice thing to have to do, but it's what I believed was right to do.
What Do I Do When This Happens To My Fave?
The question of whether you can like someone's work if you don't like them (otherwise known as 'The Chris Brown Dilemma') is as old as time and always difficult to answer. The internet these days can often operate as judge, jury and executioner when controversy arises. For some a simple accusation means instant guilt, while others seem to take an accusation as automatic sign of some kind of broad conspiracy. Ultimately I would advise that you turn away from what the crowd is saying and try to come to a conclusion that is right for you. Notice that I say 'right' and not 'comfortable'. It is very easy to come to a conclusion that is comfortable for you. It is easy to just shrug off or ignore nasty claims made about a fave of yours - because facing a nasty reality is always much harder than denying it. What I'm saying is that the concept of 'justice' is near-universally built upon the premise of 'innocent until proven guilty' (and rightly so), but 'innocent until proven guilty' isn't the same as 'they are incapable of ever doing something wrong.' You have to be open-minded, despite your fandom.
Let's Talk About Toby Turner
I used to be a huge fan of Toby Turner. I would watch TobyGames every single day and viewed his Minecraft series as probably the funniest gaming series on YouTube (at least that I had seen). Over time I naturally moved on from his videos, just out of change of tastes, but it still stung when earlier this year, many nasty allegations began to come out of the woodwork about Toby. These accusations are detailed in full here, but in brief: Toby has been accused of drugging a woman (and possibly using that as an opportunity to sexually assault her), accused of hard drug use and just being an unpleasant guy (plus many other, more specific actions). The accusations vary in terms of nastiness and illegality - and, let's be clear - I'm not here to argue the validity of these specific claims. All I'm asking is: can a Toby fan still support him after a number of allegations like this arise?
The Answer Is Obvious - But Nuanced
The answer? It's up to you. Now I know what you're thinking: 'is that it?' Yes I know that seems like an incredibly obvious answer to this problem but let's really break this down. Ultimately what we have here is a relationship - a relationship between you and a creator. The internet gets whipped up into a frenzy at the drop of a hat over pretty much anything, so it can be easy to get swept up in the hive-mind style of thinking (one way or the other). You need to ignore the rabble and look at it for yourself. Are you comfortable with watching this creator? Do the claims against them seem to have weight? Are they someone that you could see yourself supporting with a clear conscience? Toby has recently announced that he is coming back to YouTube. He seems to have used a tactic that is weirdly effective online - staying quiet for a while then just carrying on like nothing has changed. Whether anything has changed is ultimately up to you. You are the viewer and you choose who you watch, no matter what others (or even your own fandom instincts) may tell you.
With news of one of Toby's accusers having gone to the police, there is a chance that we may have a solid 'answer' to the issue, but remember: I am just using Toby as an example here. One day a fave of yours may be revealed to be unsavoury and you may have to ask yourself a serious question - are you continuing to support them because they deserve it, or because it would be uncomfortable and sad for you to admit to yourself that they are not the person you thought they were? Again, that decision is yours and yours alone.