On the 11th day of Perezmas, pop culture gave to us…
Eleven ELECTRIC YouTube scandals!!!
It’s been a memorable year on the video-sharing platform, though not always for the right reasons. In fact, scandals and controversies seemed to dominate the landscape on the tech platform in 2019, which fits perfectly in this year of crazy f**ked up s**t happening all over the world! Ugh…
But as we look back at the year that was, these eleven (!) scandals proved to be the most controversial and memorable moments of the YouTube year. Take a look (below)!
Tana Mongeau & Jake Paul
Did they or didn’t they?! Tana Mongeau and Jake Paul took over the entertainment world for a hot minute back in late July, when they got married in Vegas after a whirlwind two-month romance that was so crazy, even Jake’s bro Logan Paul thought they were faking it for clout! The marriage ceremony itself was one for the ages, and ended in an all-out brawl — because, of course it did — while Jana supposedly slipped away into a life happily ever after, or something.
Days after the ceremony, the 21-year-old YouTube queen admitted she hadn’t actually married Jake, because it “takes away the love,” while later revealing the pair had gone through with the stunt for “fun and content.” Ummmm, sure! A few weeks after that, she was reportedly hooking up with Noah Cyrus. What was that about the love?! LOLz!
Jake hasn’t been much better. He was “cheating” on his supposed “wife” literally days after the pair wed, during their supposed honeymoon, while Tana was away on a family emergency. Clearly, there’s not a whole lot of real life being lived between these two… but whatever the case, it sure dominated the headlines and took over social media for a while during the summer! Super messy!!!
Tati Westbrook & James Charles
Where do we even begin with this one?! Truly, James Charles and Tati Westbrook (and Jeffree Star) found themselves at the center of the biggest, longest, and most iconic YouTube of the year… and maybe of all-time!!!
It all started in late April, after Tati publicly voiced her displeasure on social media of being “disappointed” by an unnamed colleague. Viewers immediately determined it to be her longtime friend and mentee, James, who had recently done a sponsored post advertising Sugar Bear Hair, which is one of Tati’s direct competitors within the beauty market. The makeup mogul immediately responded to Tati’s disappointment, publicly apologizing for the post and explaining how the company had helped him navigate a difficult situation at Coachella, but the damage was done.
Less than two weeks later, in early May, Westbrook posted a truly iconic 45-minute video entitled BYE, SISTER, which meticulously outlined her fellow YouTuber’s long-standing transgressions and wrong-doings. Hours later, James uploaded an apology video that was blasted and summarily rejected by fans, who accused him of being inauthentic, and millions of people — including a string of A-list celebrities — all quickly unsubscribed in droves from his YouTube channel. Bye, sisters, indeed!
Jeffree Star inserted himself into the feud later in May, cryptically tweeting how Charles had been banned from his home after some unnamed sketchy behavior, and the thing completely devolved from there. FaZe Banks called out Tati for using the whole thing to her financial advantage, social media users compared James’ apology video to Laura Lee‘s poorly received and infamously insincere walk-back, and Star and Charles went at it in competing videos ramping up the controversy to a level nobody had ever quite seen before.
Eventually, both Star and Charles backed off — with the latter releasing a video entitled No More Lies, which documented every single thing he said or that had been said about him throughout the whole ordeal. After more than a month of continuous sniping, and shade, and drama, the whole thing was over as soon as it began — and Charles’ subscriber count (slowly) started to tick back up. Still, what a wild, wild time to be alive and on YouTube, y’all!!!
PewDiePie’s Donation Drama
PewDiePie — real name Felix Kjellberg — surpassed 100 million YouTube subscribers back in August (an incredible achievement!), but just one month later, he was back on the site’s s**t list after running himself into major donation drama involving the Anti-Defamation League and a subset of his highly controversial follower base.
This year’s drama came about when Kjellberg first pledged to donate $50,000 to the ADL, a well-known anti-hate group, before going back on that pledge in September, apologizing to his fans and alleging he’d been “advised” by others to pick the ADL as his charity of choice. His bizarrely-timed walk-back quickly birthed all kinds of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, with fans guessing he’d been pressured to make the donation to the group even though he didn’t necessarily fully believe in their mission.
It sounds like a random, one-off thing, perhaps, but PewDiePie has a long and unfortunate history with Nazi memes and imagery — like the time a few years back when he paid off two men to hold up a “Death to all Jews” sign for his own amusement. Far-right extremists have openly embraced the controversial YouTuber, too, and even though he has said he’s “absolutely sickened” by their support, the Swedish vlogger has nevertheless had some trouble distancing himself from that world. Yeah…
Fantastic Adventures and Child Abuse
Back in March, YouTube terminated the popular channel Fantastic Adventures after the mother who ran the account was arrested and charged with child abuse. According to court docs filed in Maricopa County, Arizona, Machelle Hackney and her two adult sons were charged with physically abusing her seven adopted children in order to get them to perform for the channel’s popular and (supposedly) family-friendly videos.
According to Phoenix police, Hackney allegedly withheld food and water, restricted bathroom access, physically beat, and pepper-sprayed the children when they failed to follow her directions during filming, or if they refused to film altogether. Police had initially discovered the children in a state of distress during a welfare check, after a teenaged neighbor called the cops when something didn’t appear right about how the woman was dealing with her children at their home. Upon investigation, police determined several of the kids had been completely removed from school, with one telling investigators he had not been to class in years, and another saying he “was in the green screen room for most of his life.”
The channel had more than 700,000 subscribers and over 244 million video views at the time of its termination. Hackney — who also went by her maiden name, Hobson — denied the charges, claiming in police documents that the only punishments she used on the children were “spanking, grounding the children, and having them stand in the corner.” Nevertheless, YouTube (correctly) took swift action to rid the site of her channel, and help pull the plug on an abusive situation.
In a stunning post-script to this story, Hackney passed away unexpectedly in November, dying of a “brain injury” at a Scottsdale, Arizona hospital. She was just 48 years old. Wow…
Trisha Paytas vs. David Dobrik
Longtime popular YouTuber Trisha Paytas ended her relationship with former Vine star Jason Nash after a late January vlog from fellow video star David Dobrik showed Nash joking about having sex with other women. The controversy in the since-deleted video centers on Nash telling Dobrik, “if you can get [fellow YouTuber] Tana Mongeau to have a three-way with me and Trisha, I’ll buy you a Ferrari.” The vlog then shows Mongeau being invited over to Dobrik’s house, where the Vlog Squad leader awkwardly asks her about the threesome — and the segment ends.
Days later, after a second skit video involving Nash and Mongeau that was also later deleted from Dobrik’s channel, Paytas made her own tear-filled, emotionally-charged 19-minute video, revealing she and Nash had split due to the sex references within the vlogs. And even though Trisha was clearly angry at Nash for his actions caught on camera, most of her rage was directed at Dobrik, who she called out as “an actual, horrible person,” and accused him of being manipulative and cruel simply for the benefit of his own vlog career.
Ultimately, both Paytas and Dobrik ended up deleting all videos associated with the entire controversy, though clones and clips still exist throughout the internet. Still, it’s a great example of a wild, dramatic, over-the-top YouTube fight, and it made for one of the most dramatic early moments of the year on the video-sharing site!
The ACE family — made up of dad Austin McBroom, mom Catherine Paiz, and daughters Elle and baby Alaïa — probably ought to think twice about ever stepping foot on a jet ski again! In early September, the insufferable family uploaded to YouTube a 70-minute long video (!) showing off their new mansion, and in one scene, Austin can be seen riding the fam’s jet ski in their infinity pool! There’s just one little problem with that: the massive waves that resulted from McBroom’s little jet ski run allegedly triggered a series of mud slides in their neighborhood!
When a Twitter user pointed out how the mud slides had allegedly destroyed his uncle’s grape plants and flooded his property, Catherine clapped back with a silly string of Twitter emojis and a message about how people “hate to see happy people minding their own business and staying in their own lane.” Only, when it was clearly pointed out to her that directly affecting the health and safety of your neighbors is NOT staying in their own lane, the (metaphorical) flood gates opened and the internet had its own brand of justice for McBroom and his clan, served cold.
Quickly, fans recalled the time Austin received backlash for sharing a Snapchat video showing two-year-old Elle licking on a dildo-shaped lollipop that he’d bought for her at a sex shop. (GROSS!) A month later, another Twitter user made a public accusation that Austin slept with her friend — and made the girl sign an NDA — earlier this year in Miami. Catherine slammed the claim, but the drama was out there, and the ACE family took more than a month off filming. Then, in October, McBroom was publicly accused of rape after a purported tell-all video about the YouTuber went viral. Still, they’re back filming now with no end in sight… but at least they’re not riding their jet ski in their pool any more… right?
Austin Jones’ downfall is a drama several years in the making, after the once-popular YouTuber was first arrested in 2017 for soliciting explicit videos from two underage girls.
That controversy came to a head earlier this year, then, when he eventually pled guilty to one count of “receipt of child pornography” in February, and was then sentenced to ten years in prison on the charge by a judge in May.
It was an incredible downfall for Jones, who started his career on YouTube as a musician nearly a decade ago, rising to fame with his a cappella versions of popular songs. As early as 2015, though, reports surfaced that he had contacted underage female fans and asked them to send him videos. At one point later that year, he acknowledged the accusations in a video uploaded to his channel, but denied that the videos he requested were explicit.
Nevertheless, a federal investigation in 2017 turned up at least two instances of Jones requesting explicit content from underage girls, and the legal issues quickly snowballed from there. YouTube eventually permanently terminated his account in February of this year, too, after he pled guilty to the child pornography charge.
Guess we’ll see you in a decade, Austin…
Marina Joyce’s Disappearance
Marina Joyce, a popular London-based YouTuber, made international headlines in August when she disappeared for nearly two weeks before being found “safe and well,” according to her boyfriend. In early August, the London Metropolitan Police announced that the 22-year-old Joyce, who blogs beauty tips to more than 2 million subscribers, had last been seen on July 31st, and they had been unsure about her whereabouts for nearly two weeks’ time. Foul play wasn’t initially suspected, but cops put out so few clues about her disappearance that social media quickly took the story and ran with it, producing all kinds of conspiracy theories involving her old videos.
After ten days, the vlogger’s boyfriend Brandon Mehmed cryptically tweeted “Everything is being dealt with in a professional manner. Please don’t worry about her as she is safe and well (you have my word for that). Also everyone who thinks I’m acting ‘suspicious’ are only misinformed and don’t know me at allll.” He later added he had been in touch with her “constantly” during her disappearance. Hmmm…
Whatever the case, Joyce seemed grateful to her fans when she did return to social media, tweeting later that none of the conspiracy theories about her were true, and how, “I’m getting better now, which is why I decided to make this video. I feel so grateful for #SaveMarinaJoyce because it did actually save me.”
Crazy… but at least all ended well on this one!
Ryan ToysReview’s FCC Complaint
Back in September, consumer watchdog group Truth in Advertising filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission over deceptive and shady advertising tactics allegedly used on the mega-popular kids channel Ryan ToysReview. The channel, which has more than 22 million subscribers and well beyond 30 billion (!) video views, stars seven-year-old Ryan, who is filmed unboxing and playing with toys. The boy has done so with great financial success since 2015, with the channel offering parents some insight into whether their child may like a toy or not based on how Ryan reacts to it.
Well, according to the complaint filed by the watchdog agency, Ryan’s channel “deceptively promotes a multitude of products to millions of preschool-aged children in violation of FTC law,” and that “it is often difficult to discern the innocent (or sometimes not so innocent) antics in Ryan ToysReview videos from the sponsored content. And for preschoolers, it is impossible to discern the difference.”
At issue here are secondary advertising deals the channel has negotiated with brands like Colgate, Carl’s Jr., and Walmart, where Ryan’s videos flat out fail to note that the clips are being sponsored and paid for by those companies. The FTC ultimately confirmed they’d received the complaint, though they were mum about whether it had triggered an investigation. Still, as YouTube moves quickly in 2019 to better protect children on their platform, it’s clear there’s more concern and oversight over things like this now than ever before — and ultimately, that’s a good thing!
Shane Dawson did WHAT?!
Here’s something we honestly didn’t think we’d be writing in 2019 (or ever): YouTube star Shane Dawson did NOT have sex with his cat. OK, guys? So, like, stop asking him about it now, all right?!
This, ummm, unique controversy popped up in March when the popular vlogger made a cryptic remark about his pets in an old resurfaced podcast clip. He said:
“The things I’ve done to my poor animals, they will never love me. I’ve done terrible things.”
Uhh… like what, Shane?
Worse yet, he went on to tell a graphic story about how he apparently dry-humped his cat before he “came all over it,” shocking listeners and quickly throwing the internet into a tailspin. That particular podcast episode was deleted from all platforms, but the story was out there, and the damage was done — and within hours, the hashtag #ShaneDawsonIsOverParty was trending on Twitter with hundreds of thousands of tweets blasting his controversial comments.
Days later, with seemingly the entire internet against him, the YouTuber popped up publicly with a long Twitter thread denying ever dry humping his cat and calling the story “fake.” Fellow vloggers and stars on the platform rushed in to defend him, and Dawson himself admitted it was part of a ruse he’d been keeping up for fans, before regretfully admitting how he wished he’d just been himself from the start with his audience, rather than trying to play a character. Dude…
Soon enough, the controversy died down, and YouTubers moved on to the next big thing. Seriously, though, what kind of person jokes around about f**king their cat?
ProJared’s Sketchy Scandal(s)
Popular YouTube video game reviewer ProJared — real name Jared Knabenbauer — announced back in May that he and wife Heidi O’Ferrall were regrettably filing for divorce. But what seemed so simple and straightforward at the time almost immediately devolved into a salacious cess pool of accusations, when it bubbled over publicly that Jared had allegedly cheated on Heidi with another famous YouTuber — Holly Conrad, the ex-wife of Game Grumps alum Ross O’Donovan. That high-profile accusation alone sent YouTube gamers and video game fans into a frenzy, trying to recount the apparent infidelity involving such high-profile figures in the platform’s community.
It got worse from there though; amid the divorce fall-out, O’Ferrall accused ProJared of soliciting and sending nudes to fans, including some involving girls who were under the age of 18. Several Twitter users corroborated her accusations, sharing screenshots of sketchy messages and exchanges online that they’d had with Jared in the past. Jared denied the accusation that he coerced girls to send pictures, instead claiming everything was consensual, and everybody was of the legal age, but the scandal nevertheless sent his subscriber numbers reeling, and he didn’t post a public video for months thereafter.
Then, in late August, ProJared finally responded publicly in his own rambling (seriously, it’s 42 minutes long) video, entitled YOU’VE BEEN LIED TO. In September, he confirmed he’d be returning to YouTube soon — and in early December, he started filming and uploading regular content again, though he’s still being called out by a pretty sizable social media population even as he attempts to move on. Wonder why…
What a wild time to be on YouTube, right?! It’s truly the golden era of crazy s**t!!!
What do U think about all these YouTube controversies, Perezcious readers?! Honestly, it was sort of tough just to narrow it down to eleven… what other scandals come to mind that we left out?? Sound OFF about everything YouTube-related in the comments (below)…
[Image via Instagram/WENN/YouTube]