Many know that Vine and Youtube stars have begun to become celebrities. People like Shane Dawson have made their own films, and Bethany Mota have fashion lines. At conventions, they’re treated like royalty. Mostly by teenage girls.
However, many of these stars are problematic. Not just because of racism or sexism blatantly displayed in their tweets or videos, but because of actions they have taken. I can’t even describe every single “underage sex scandal” that has occurred within the Youtube/Vine community.
Last year, Tom Milson was twenty-two and dating a fifteen year old whom he abused and forced into sex.
“It was really painful and i ended up really sore and bruised for like days,” she wrote on her Tumblr page. “like literally everything hurt so bad and i told him that and it didn’t really matter i didnt stop anything.”
In 2013, Ed “Eddplant” Blann, former member of Chameleon Circuit, a popular Doctor Who fan band, admitted to an abusive relationship with a fan. He stated: “Over the course of those eight months I treated her appallingly, manipulated her, and behaved in an extremely misogynistic way towards her.”
That same year, Josh Macedo, a Tumblr celebrity, sent sexually explicit messages and webcam photos to a fifteen-year-old girl. (http://www.dailydot.com/fandom/josh-macedo-tumblr-scandal-consent-fandom/)
And in 2012, musician Mike Lombardo was charged with a five-year prison sentence for soliciting sexual photos from an underage fan (http://www.dailydot.com/fandom/tom-milsom-underage-sex-scandal/).
These situations are all so familiar, mostly because they continue to occur. Half of these guys don’t seem ashamed of their actions. Is it because they don’t face consequences?
VidCon, the convention that Hank Green founded with his brother, John Green, is currently underway. This year, another sexual predator showed up. Carter Reynolds, a nineteen-year-old Vine star, pressured his sixteen-year-old girlfriend to have sex. Even though she didn’t want to.
There’s more. In a YouNow stream, Reynolds decided to publically shame his ex. “I wish she would apologize for the things you guys don’t know about,” he said. “A lot of people hate on me now. They think I’m the only bad person in this relationship.” (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/07/22/vine-star-carter-reynolds-s-rape-saga-is-just-getting-worse.html)
Right. As if that excuses sexual assault.
“I DESERVE some respect,” he continued. “That’s all I ask from her. Some respect. I think about it every day. From the moment I wake up and when I go to bed, I think about Maggie.”
He also sang “S-L-U-T” on another YouNow video, a parody of his popular “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” cover. When his ex-girlfriend expressed dissatisfaction, he replied: “She shouldn’t have said the shit she said this morning…I am bout to GO IN right now.”
Reynold then proceeded to post a graphic allegation that his ex-girlfriend provided oral sex to another social media celebrity, Hayes Greer. (http://superfame.com/post/maggie-hayes-carter-cops-arrested/)
This is the guy who showed up to VidCon, unannounced and uninvited. To a convention where a bunch of teenage girls swarm to meet their favorite stars. A place where teens between the ages of 13 and 18 can gather without adult chaperones.
I’m serious. According to the VidCon website, “There is no age limit to attend VidCon. If you are under 18 and your parents are okay with you going, then so are we! If you’re under age 13, then we require that you have an adult with you.”
Furthermore, the Code of Conduct barely seems to address sexual assault or what to do in case it happens at the convention.
“If someone doesn’t want to talk to you, don’t keep talking to them. If you do not have permission to touch someone, do not touch them. VidCon loves surprising and interesting unplanned activities, but sometimes things you think are cool might make other people extremely uncomfortable or be very dangerous.
Pranks often make for some great videos, but it makes us really sad when they are emotionally or physically hurtful, so don’t do that. If we hear about anyone pranking in ways that are disruptive to the well-being of our guests or attendees, there’s a pretty strong chance it will get the prankster kicked out. Also, please keep in mind that we are sharing the convention center and hotels with others and it is our duty to be friendly neighbors. Not everyone “gets” this thing we are all into. Let’s show everyone that we are a positive and friendly group.”
Maybe it’s just me, but shouldn’t a convention that knows teen girls will be coming, unattended, have clear policies regarding sexual assault?
For goodness sake, Hank Green doesn’t even seem to know what’s going on. He tweeted that Reynolds was removed from the hotel, but he wasn’t. This is his convention. Why doesn’t he know what’s happening? Why is he conversing with a known sexual abuser so casually instead of alerting security?
Camryn Garrett is a teenager who thinks that she’s too awkward to function. She blogs at the Huffington Post when she isn’t ranting about racism or sexism, and has a laptop named Walden. When she grows up, she wants to be “better than Lena Dunham.” Reach her at @dancingofpens on Twitter.