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With the increasing popularity of YouTube, video creators have gradually grown into modern-day celebrities. Along with their fame, some YouTubers have brought controversy along with them and caught the negative attention of viewers and users around the world. Issuing apologies for comments or content containing racism, homophobia, pedophilia, and more, some of the biggest creators on the platform have faced fierce pushback online from those demanding they issue an apology for their harmful videos. Apologies like these have come up so often that publications like Vice have even gone as far as to call apology videos a new genre on YouTube. However, recently, YouTube apologies have taken on a new form: taking accountability.
What are Apology Videos?
Before you even have to click on the video, you immediately can distinguish an apology video from other videos just from its title and thumbnail. These videos are usually posted fairly quickly after a “scandal”, as Tana Mongeau would call it, goes viral. From this, titles can range from anything like “So Sorry” (Logan Paul) to tackling the issue head-on, like Jeffree Star’s “RACISM” video.
Consistently, these titles are vague enough to get users to click on the video to figure out what’s going on if they don’t already know of the controversy. These videos often have the creators in the thumbnail with either a solemn look or a tearful face, further driving Vice’s notion that apology videos have become a click-driven form of content.
For other creators, their apologies can come months to years after critique has started, causing them to post videos addressing years-worth of content. Depending on what the YouTuber discusses, an apology can either be a wordy hour-long video or a brief couple of minutes. But as multiple commentators on YouTube would say, after watching enough of them, a lot of YouTube apologies begin to follow a formula and end up all sounding the same.
With some YouTubers making multiple apology videos a year after repeating the same actions, viewers have become disillusioned, prompting creators to take further action beyond an “I’m sorry”.
Especially if a YouTuber sells products with their name on it, whether on their own or through another company, issuing an apology video as damage control is expected and necessary. However, when the content in question is overwhelmingly unforgivable, creators are either forced or choose for themselves to remove their account off of their chosen platform. Or, they simply stop posting.
This phenomenon recently sprung up on TikTok in March after Emmuhlu, a creator with over 1 million followers on the app, stopped posting for months after a video of her using a racist slur was exposed. As a progressive voice on the platform, her followers were shocked and disappointed in her actions, causing her to post several apologies and ultimately ceasing to post for a while for her mental health and as a way to take accountability.
In June, YouTuber Jenna Marbles followed suit and took an indefinite hiatus from her channel after posting an apology video addressing her past racist content, including a video in blackface. In her video, she expresses that she privatized almost all of her old content because she didn’t “want someone to watch something and feel hurt or offended now for any reason” and that she wanted to make sure the things she’s “put into the world aren’t hurting anyone.” Her exit from the platform spurred conversation online about removing videos as a form of accountability.
“I think there was a time when having all of my old content exist on the internet showed how much I have grown up as a person, which I’m very proud of,” said Marbles. “However, I think now it’s hard for that content to exist at all.”
Both Marbles and Emmuhlu sparked even more discussion online as some claim cancel culture can often be a matter of sexism or unequal treatment. For example, stars like Shane Dawson claim to take accountability after viewing Marbles’ video, but he still holds onto his platform and his channel. There has also been a slew of TikTok stars that were exposed for using the N-word or posting other racist content that have not had to answer for their actions after short apologies.
These stars include:
- Mattia Poblibio
- Chase Hudson
Overall, these TikTok influencers still have their accounts and boast millions of followers despite their past. Thus, social media users are still left to ask what really defines a genuine apology, and what defines taking accountability?
Another Genre Comes From Apologies
As some have pointed out, the life cycle of a YouTube scandal doesn’t end at an apology video. After the apology video drops, there are usually a ton of videos posted by other creators analyzing the apology, reacting to the apology, or responding to the apology. The popular nature of apology videos has even inspired memes like “Apology Videos as Zodiac Signs”. Most recently, black YouTubers have begun rating apology videos, starting a new genre. Rating apology videos has earned various creators millions of views for their hilarious commentary.
Check out some of the YouTube apologies below:
|YouTuber||Subscriber Count||View Count|
Going forward, online users and fellow black creators will continue to hold other YouTubers accountable for their actions, despite them saying they’re doing it themselves. With the formulaic structure of apology videos, it’s crucial for those creators in question to take full responsibility for their content and put in the work towards benefitting the communities they harmed in order to prove their genuine intentions and take the first step in earning back trust and respect from their audiences.