YouTube is experiencing what can only be described as an identity crisis. The site itself is struggling under the weight of a mass advertiser boycott, with its revenue plummeting and it adopting a heavy-handed approach to monetization in the process, affecting the bottom lines of its video makers. Many of these video makers are also finding themselves placed under an unfortunate spotlight, with the likes of PewDiePie and JonTron each making news headlines as a result of their divisive videos, creating a rift on the site in which creators now seemingly spend as much time discussing the drama surrounding its inner circle as they do anything else.
Enter Laci Green. One of YouTube’s most prominent feminists with 1.5 million subscribers, Laci Green’s videos were widely championed (and criticized) for her messages supporting inclusivity, sex positivity and her discussions surrounding feminist ideas and philosophies. However, Laci has now divided her audience as a result of her latest series of videos, in which she discusses “taking the red pill,” and for her relationship with prominent “anti-PC” YouTuber Chris Ray Gun.
A month ago Laci posted a video titled ‘Taking The Red Pill?’, in which she discussed that she would use her channel to offer an olive branch to YouTubers who may not share the same views as her, with her potentially moderating debates between prominent names who represent both sides of the political coin. In the video, Laci described how she was against “no-platforming” — the act of prohibiting someone from staging a public discussion in the belief that their views are harmful and will encourage hate — instead advocating that divergent opinions shouldn’t be driven “underground,” and should instead be discussed in the proper forum.
But while Laci Green’s flirtation with the “red pill” would have been controversial in and of itself given the movement’s misogynistic background, the reveal that she was now romantically linked to Chris Ray Gun, a prominent “skeptic” YouTuber known for his videos rallying against feminism and progressives, was yet another odd twist in the YouTube tale.
Chris, whose videos feature him ranting about feminist video game critic Anita Sarkeesian, criticizing Islam and arguing against the gender wage gap, produces content for an audience that could not be more different from Laci’s. As one of a growing number of “skeptic” YouTube channels, who create politically charged videos that mostly revolve around decrying feminism and vaguely defined political correctness, Chris’s views aren’t as divisive as those possessed by the YouTubers he rubs shoulders with such as Sargon of Akkad, but they still aren’t congruous with the views Laci has expressed throughout her YouTube career. As such, the reveal of her relationship with him coinciding with her decision to reach out to those sharing his views has been widely criticized.
I truly don't understand how an activist who has experienced as much online harassment as Laci Green has can be so careless & irresponsible.
— ella dawson (@brosandprose) June 6, 2017
These criticisms weren’t assuaged by Laci tweeting amidst the controversy in order to extend an appeal to transphobes, asking radical feminists to explain their beliefs regarding gender and identity, and why they opted to misgender trans people.
and (if it applies) i don't understand why some radfems misgender people? is this necessary to the radical feminist philosophy of gender?
— Laci Green (@gogreen18) June 4, 2017
What gets me is just how politely she is reaching out to ideologues who hate trans people, and would quite happily see us dead.
— Casey @ twitch.tv/caseyexplosion (@CaseyExplosion) June 6, 2017
While Laci has claimed that her opinions remain mostly unchanged, her relationship with a vocal opponent of many of her views has inevitably led to concern among her viewers, with some expressing that her providing a platform to those with negative opinions regarding the LGBTQ community, feminism and social progress will be particularly harmful for her younger viewers. It also provides yet another example of the uncertainly YouTube’s audience faces in supporting its video makers, with the intense political climate having a major impact on the site and its content creators.
Laci Green’s identity crisis is emblematic of the wider issue faced by YouTubers. JonTron, a comedy video game reviewer who decided to express his ethno-nationalist views in a live streamed debate, has seen his comments remain largely unchecked by his peers after they received widespread media coverage. Likewise, PewDiePie’s anti-Semitic joke that cost him his partnership with Disney’s Maker Studios saw YouTubers respond by gunning for the mainstream media, suggesting that an “Us vs. Them” war between old and new media was what led to him being targeted, shifting the onus of blame from him and onto those who had criticized his actions. In a particularly volatile social climate, one of YouTube’s most prominent feminist voices dipping her toes into the site’s pool of anger and hysteria is no small thing. Many of her viewers are now simply hoping that she doesn’t fall into the deep end.