The Huffington Post published an article on David Bowie and the controversial subject of, predominantly male, stars using their celebrity status to take advantage of women, some allegations including Elvis Presley, David Bowie, and current cases before the legal system, like Bill Cosby. They discussed the idea of glorifying celebrities to the point where the idea of them doing anything ‘bad’ is impossible to consider, acknowledging that people can commit crimes and still be talented and beloved public figures.
This is commonly seen in more recent times in YouTube culture – as YouTubers become more high profile and well-known, involved in book deals, advertising, and often with high numbers of subscribers and a dedicated, loyal fanbase, they sometimes find themselves in situations where it is possible for them to take advantage of fans, often young girls.
In 2014, high-profile YouTubers began to be ‘outed’ as sexual abusers and manipulators, for example Tom Milsom, Mike Lombardo and Alex Day. People anonymously posted their experiences, which led to YouTubers themselves posting their experiences, like Dodie Clark. The more people who came out with their stories, the more stories came out.
The article seemed to carry a dialogue of ‘yes, David Bowie was talented and also he had sex with an underage woman’, putting forward the idea that the two things do not need to coincide. Seen on YouTube, Alex Day, a once popular video maker and musician with over a million subscribers and a book deal, said that he didn’t care if people disliked him for the allegations but still liked his music. To him, they could remain separate things and even though he’d had those allegations, his songs could still be enjoyed.
The thing to remember when celebrities and fans interact is that the person that someone may idolise on their screens is a character – thanks to editing and scripting, celebrities and YouTubers are able to manipulate their image so they come across how they or their PR want them to come across. That’s not to say that there aren’t some genuine celebrities, however it is important to bear in mind that just because somebody seems to be the ‘ideal person’ online, they aren’t always who they seem to be in real life.