YouTuber Dies in Stunt Gone Wrong
In perhaps the worst way to chase YouTube fame ever recorded, teen mom Monalisa Perez accidentally shot and killed her boyfriend Pedo Ruiz in June during a stunt gone tragically wrong. Perez, who was then pregnant with the couple’s second child, had tweeted that they planned to film “one of the most dangerous videos ever” — and having attempted less harmful stunts for shock value, the couple believed that holding up a book would block a bullet from fatally hitting Ruiz. She was later charged in his death, pleaded guilty to manslaughter, and sentenced to six months in jail. Perez is also banned from monetizing the video of his death, which thankfully hasn’t been uploaded.
Anita Sarkeesian Confronts Her Gamergate Harasser at VidCon
The wounds of Gamergate are still so fresh that a meaningful reckoning doesn’t feel imminent. But at VidCon earlier this summer, the harassment campaign targeting female gamers moved offline when YouTube activist Anita Sarkeesian, a high-profile victim of the attacks, faced one of her abusers. While speaking on a panel about women online, Sarkeesian was asked why she’s kept up the discourse about Gamergate. Her stunning answer: “Because I think someone in the front row that is a notorious harasser of mine is filming this panel.” The man was Sargon of Akkad, one of her most vicious critics, who packed the room with other trolls to intimidate the women on the panel. “I hate to give you attention because you’re a garbage human,” she said. Sargon later uploaded a video blasting Sarkeesian for violating convention policy with her comments and refusing to have a civil conversation, which he claimed he wanted; Sarkeesian wrote that his intentions were more sinister. In a rare move, VidCon founder Hank Green issued a statement apologizing to Sarkeesian, saying that the festival hadn’t taken adequate precautions to protect female creators from abuse but will correct their mistakes going forward.
Anthony Padilla Quits Smosh
Marking the end of an era, OG YouTuber Anthony Padilla left the massively popular comedy duo Smosh after 12 years to go solo. Similar to beauty guru Michelle Phan’s abrupt yearlong absence from the site, he grew sick of being a corporate puppet and missed making art for art’s sake. “Smosh being part of a company has put all of my creative decisions through a filter of what’s appropriate for the Smosh brand as deemed by the company. I need to feel that happiness again,” he said. There appears to have been no drama between and him and his former other half, Ian Hecox — they’re reportedly still BFFs.
Zoella’s Problematic Old Tweets Exposed
Proving all heroes will inevitably disappoint, one of the most-followed women on YouTube, beauty and lifestyle vlogger Zoella, experienced a celebrity rite of passage this year: her old problematic tweets were exposed. She was accused of slut-shaming, fat-shaming, and perpetuating homophobic and classist stereotypes with her language. Zoella apologized saying her tweets were taken out of of context — she was reacting to TV shows, so these were mostly fictional people she was insulting — but that they also don’t reflect her present character. She’s since deleted them, though the internet will forever keep the receipts.
Jeffree Star Apologizes for His Racist Past
Old videos of beauty guru and provocateur Jeffree Star exhibiting racism have dogged him for years. In June, he finally addressed the controversy in a video mea culpa. “I know exactly the person I am today, but I do not know who that person was,” he said. Star claimed that at the time he was depressed, “angry at the world,” and an attention-seeker who didn’t know any better, though he said his past racism could not be excused (despite Kim Kardashian’s eventual failed attempt at trying to excuse it on his behalf).
Kim Kardashian’s YouTube Invasion
When Kim Kardashian launched her first beauty line, she also launched herself into the YouTube orbit. She collaborated with the biggest beauty gurus, but not all were starstruck. After popular makeup artist Jackie Aina uploaded a review critical of the range’s lack of melanin with suggestions for improvement, she noticed she was the only YouTuber Kim neglected to tag in her Instagram photos from the products’ launch party. She claimed Kim was “salty” and “shady” and, thus, the tea was served. Kim did what any true YouTuber would do and blamed it on a technical error, making it through her first YouTube drama relatively unscathed.
DaddyOFive and YouTube’s Child Exploitation Problem
Consent on YouTube is still murky ground: Take DaddyOFive, a family brand that profited off videos of a father and stepmother terrorizing their children for views. These so-called abusive “stunts” ultimately got the parents charged with child neglect, which they pleaded guilty to, and lost them custody of their two youngest kids. As a result, YouTube has vowed to wipe the site of exploitative videos, deleting and suspending videos and channels that appear to depict child endangerment, or demonetize what it can’t erase.
YouTube’s Algorithm Broke (Again)
The algorithm changes that rolled out at the end of 2016 have sent creators spiraling into mass chaos. All the big stars — or at least those transparent about YouTube being their primary source of income — have reported fluctuating view counts, videos not appearing in viewers’ subscription boxes, a decline in ad revenue (“adpocalypse” is the popular conspiracy theory), and even fans being automatically unsubscribed. They’ve also devoted countless minutes of their videos to letting their viewers know they’re struggling, particularly the mid-tier channels that rely on steady, impressive numbers. Simply put: The site’s algorithm is out of whack, or so its creators are convinced. YouTube and its parent company Google have kept mum — and there’s not a fix in sight.
PewDiePie Is Canceled
PewDiePie and PC culture (and we don’t mean gaming) have never mixed, but this year, the most famous YouTuber in the world crossed an already thin line. After using anti-Semitic language and Nazi propaganda in his videos, he lost his fancy deal with Disney’s Maker Studios for good. YouTube also canceled PewDiePie’s show and denied him access to top advertisers after his lackluster apologies. Then he seemingly decided, why not burn it all to the ground? Later in the year, he said the N-word (hard r, and all) during a gaming livestream, then poorly apologized for the slur. History suggests it’s only a matter of time before he tops that scandal.
Jake Paul Became Public Enemy No. 1
There has never been a more divisive YouTuber in the medium’s short history than the 20-year-old one-man wrecking crew that is Jake Paul. Everything the multi-millionaire prankster/rapper/bro touches turns to gold and then immediately plummets in value. YouTube could’ve dedicated an entire Rewind just to Paul, his year was so busy. To recap: Paul terrorized a neighborhood, got fired from his Disney show for said behavior, had extremely convoluted ex-girlfriend drama, maybe violated copyright laws, caused a schism within his own YouTube branding empire, and incited mass hysteria in New York with his mere presence. But, on the bright side, he also tried to stop a hurricane … after it already hit. Balance!