Over the last 24 hours, social media has been on fire with the “beef” between Youtubers Gabbie Hanna (aka: The Gabbie Show) and Ricegum (aka: Bryan Le). Allegedly during a late night birthday party, Hanna was Snapchatting Le when an altercation happened between the two of them. Hanna is asserting that Le grabbed her arm after she made a joke about his (well documented) ghost writer, twisted her to the ground, snatched her phone from her hand, and smashed it due to a Snapchat and the joke he didn’t approve of and wanted deleted. Le maintains “all he did” was smash the phone. Hanna filmed a video after the fact showing the marks supposedly from the fight, while Le has been recorded mocking her further and making a joke out of the entire thing, before completely denouncing it on his own Twitter.
See for yourself:
(Screenshots are there in case he deletes any tweets because we all know how this typically goes.)
So. To recap.
“So I grabbed her phone out her hand.”
“Just don’t record me when I say don’t record me.”
“I may smash people(‘s) phones.”
Do you know what all of these sentences have in common? Abuse. Violence. Gaslighting. Excuse from blame.
This is not a new scandal involving the allowance of abuse for the YouTube community.
In the Fall of 2014, YouTuber Sam Pepper uploaded a video entitled “Fake Hand Ass Pinch Prank” in which he would approach unsuspecting women asking for directions, and then feel up their skirts with his real hand whilst distracting them with a rubber hand. What this lead to was not only an outpouring of (rightful!!) criticism, but numerous sexual harassment and rape accusations against Pepper.
As of today, Pepper’s YouTube account and social media accounts are still very much active.
I don’t know exactly what happened between Hanna and Le. I never will. I wasn’t at this birthday party, I didn’t see what happened in between Snapchats and what may or may not have happened when someone heard a joke they didn’t like and someone else had a phone out.
Here’s what we do know.
A man is COMPLETELY admitting to acting violently and aggressively towards not only women, but children, aka: just anyone(!!!!!!!!) when he “feels like it” and he is still being allotted a platform. He isn’t being held accountable for his actions by his main employer, even when said actions are right there, completely admitted, in his own words.
That is not okay. Not only is it not okay, it’s disgusting.
Freedom of speech (which some claim a platform falls under) can only take you so far. These are people openly admitting to crimes and they’re still being allotted a creative space. These are people making light of situations and experiences that are incredibly damaging, and still being allowed to clock in like it’s any other Wednesday. Why aren’t we, as consumers and members of said community, questioning that? Why aren’t we demanding that our media, digital or otherwise, holds itself to a higher standard and does not allow someone who gaslights victims and belittles their experiences access to (literally) millions and millions of people?
When I was just a little bit younger than Gabbie Hanna, I was involved with a man who was an addict. On most days, he was demure, sweet, sensitive, and the person I was absolutely falling for. On others, he was someone else entirely. He was aggressive, demanding, would pressure me, tell me what to do, and force me into behaving in a way in which he wanted me to. He would often steal my phone away from me, keeping it from me so I couldn’t contact my friends. He would pin my arms down at my sides so I couldn’t move if I wanted to get away from him. And in certain scary circumstances, he would lash out towards me violently. On one specific instance, he punched six holes through the wall of his bedroom because he was trying to hit me.
And the next day? Even after the wall day? He would consistently tell me over and over again how I was blowing it out of proportion. How it was “just how he was.” How he “asked me nicely” and I just didn’t listen. How it “wasn’t a big deal.”
The very fact that YouTube is providing a safe haven for well-documented abusers, gaslighters, and manipulators a place to not only create, but profit from their creativity, is something that we need to pay more attention to.
And it’s not only something we need to pay more attention to, it’s something we need to hold to a higher standard.
Be mindful of the media you consume.
It might not be hurting you, but it damn well might be hurting somebody else.