About three years ago in the UK something called ‘Operation Yewtree’ started. This was the name given to an investigation carried out by the Police into claims of sexual abuse carried about by a wide variety of TV and radio presenters such as Jimmy Savile, Dave Lee Travis and Jim Davidson during the 60s/70s/80s.
The scale of the abuse is staggering. What’s even more staggering is that it’s taken this long to come out. These people were in positions of power and influence, and this protected them against legal action.
It’s absolutely shocking; thankfully legal action is now being taken, but I’m sure that’s little comfort to the victims who have had to spend their lives confused, angry and violated. I’m sure that whatever punishment they get it will never make up for the years that their victims were belittled, ignored and ridiculed.
How do you speak out against someone who’s famous? Who’s loved by millions of people?
We look at these instances and try to put them into the past, as with anything like this we try to distance ourselves from it and convince ourselves that it couldn’t happen now.
But it is.
It’s happening right now.
These days we have a new kind of celebrity; the Youtuber.
Youtube is a pathway to fame like no other; people can get millions of fans by doing very little and gain celebrity-level status overnight.
A lot of people use Youtube to escape from the real world, I can understand that- I know that after a hard shift at work it’s relaxing to sit and wind down watching videos. It exists in a kind of safe bubble where audiences who are lonely feel that they have someone they can connect with who understands them. They can message this person, contact them on social media and connect with them in a way that you can’t with traditional celebrities.
This all goes a long way to explaining the deep loyalty felt amongst fans of the Youtube community.
Over the last few years, and even more so recently, it’s come to light that some of these Youtubers are abusing this loyalty in the worst way.
Allegations of manipulation, inappropriate behaviour and sexual abuse are starting to appear. Several of these Youtube celebrities have been involved in relationships with their underage fans.
This is statutory rape.
There’s no nice, pretty way to say that… it’s true. If you have sex with someone under legal age then you have raped them. The whole point of the age of consent is that they’re not deemed mature enough to weight up their options and decide for themselves.
Some of these accusations started to appear last year and the year before, but one event that happened very recently has really blown this whole thing wide open.
If you want the background and a good overview check here, here and here.
The event that has caused the shit to really hit the fan was this.
Also covered wonderfully here, here and even by the BBC, here.
Essentially, a Youtuber named Sam Pepper created a video where he ‘pranked’ women by pinching them on the arse. Thankfully his audience was disgusted and Youtube removed the video. He then tried to pass it off as a social experiment. Some people believed him, some people didn’t. I think it’s worth pointing out that he has a record of doing disgusting, degrading ‘pranks’ like this in the past… and as the debate began on whether he was a pervert or a champion of social justice people began to come forward.
Allegations started to appear; women came forward and said that they’d been sexually assaulted by him.
These allegations spiralled and spiralled, if you want a mature, in depth account of what was and is going on please check out Laci Green.
On top of this another Youtuber came forward and created a video where he admitted to getting a minor drunk and forcibly having sex with her. The response from his fans was one of support for his courage at coming forward and apologising for his mistake, which-
Wait, what did I just type?
WOAH. WOAH, WOAH…
It’s okay because he’s sorry? HE RAPED SOMEONE.
Sorry Ladies and Gents, but I think I may have just wandered into an alternate reality where it’s okay to rape someone so long as you apologise for it. The girl in question was underage… ergo this was statutory rape.
Does this not mean anything any more?
People who create content on Youtube, vloggers, youtubers, whatever you want to call them, are placed upon a pedestal where they are untouchable. They have so much power in their hands and in some cases, as illustrated here, they abuse it.
Thankfully a number of these women are taking legal action. I really, really hope that a strong case is built against these people and that they are made to legally account for their crimes, the same way anyone else would be. We need to blow the lid right off this and teach them that fame cannot protect you from the law.
The problem is that if they’re not convicted then they could easily turn around and sue the people who spoke out against them for libel. Their lives are funded by the money they get from making their videos, if no-one watches them anymore then their careers are over and they will most likely be out to get revenge on those who spoke up against them.
These people have so much power; they have audiences of millions of impressionable teenagers. There are some who use this power for good; there are others- as illustrated above- who use this power to serve themselves at the expense of their young audiences.
Another thing that really angers me is this: a lot of the really famous Youtubers who used to be close to SP have gone silent. I can understand that, they realised a long time ago that something was wrong and distanced themselves. They want to protect their image, their earnings and their businesses.
So they’re saying nothing… or saying things that aren’t really applicable to the situation. They’re carrying on with their lives, not even pausing for a moment to acknowledge and give an intelligent response.
They also have millions of impressionable teenagers watching them. Are they okay with the fact that they’re teaching teenagers that the right thing to do is ignore all social responsibility and protect yourself at all costs? Are they even aware that this is probably the vibe they’re giving off?
It angers me that few of the truly massive Youtubers (at least the ones that are big in this country) seem to be able to stand up and speak out. They are promoting a culture of silence and I find this disgusting.
To the victims (not just of this, but of any kind of abuse or manipulation) I know it’s not as easy as ‘just go to the police/authorities and report it’ and I would be a hypocrite if I were to say that. If you’ve been involved with the Youtube scandal then I do urge you to stand up, you’ll have a lot of support behind you and you could be instrumental in making them pay for their abuse of power. I’d say the same to those who are going through any kind of abuse. However, if you just can’t then I’m not going to push the matter. Just please; please talk to someone about it. Look after yourself; you can, and will heal.
Finally I want to leave you with this thought: we have created ‘Youtube culture’ we are the ones who have helped these people obtain the money and fame that they have. We are therefore the ones who can take all of that away.
If you want to hear more please check out these videos:
’til next time,