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This Week in Discourse: Ukulele Groomer Apology Song
Plus: Reddit drama keeps on going and a Very Weird Stepson
Miranda Sings Through Abuse Allegations
Imagine you’re a celebrity or a well-known content creator. One day some heavy allegations are made against you - pretty serious stuff. You tell your team you’re going to put out a message, let them know what you’re thinking of doing, and your team tells you “Absolutely not, that is a terrible idea. Don’t say anything and keep your mouth shut”.
A rule: If your PR team tells you to shut up, it is almost always a good idea to shut up. This will require you to not post, not tweet, not ‘correct the record’ or ‘reveal the actual facts’. Perhaps this act of willpower is too much, but listening to your PR people is typically the right move.
And if you really must say something, you typically want to keep it short and tight and as bland as possible. A good statement is something like “These allegations are false. I look forward to the full truth coming out and will not be making any further comments at this time.” You absolutely do not want to use your statement as an opportunity to get creative.
Anyways, here’s famous YouTuber Collen Ballinger with a 10 minute long ukulele song about allegations she groomed young children.
“YouTuber sings 10 minute ukulele song about grooming allegations” is a hell of a sentence, so I’m going to give you a second to process that. Ballinger is better known as the character/channel Miranda Sings and has more than 10 million followers on YouTube, with more than 2 billion views of her videos. As best I can tell, the channel began as a sort of parody of the wild/exaggerated YouTube content aimed at younger kids and teens and over time morphed into just… exactly that sort of wild/exaggerated content?
With an audience that skews young, people are naturally concerned about allegations that Ballinger has engaged in wildly inappropriate behavior with underage fans. Ballinger has admitted to sending some of her lingerie to a teen boy, and other accusations include sending sexual messages in group chats with other teens.
I watched that entire ten minute video so you won’t don’t have to, so go ahead hit the subscribe button.
Ballinger’s ukulele video is one of the most insane 'I should absolutely not post but I am addicted to posting and will post anyways' moments I have ever seen, and I write an entire blog about these incidents. I am blown away, and have so, so many thoughts:
The founding thesis of this blog is that Posting Is The Most Powerful Force In The Universe. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a better example of someone who just cannot stop themselves from posting. She stares into the camera and sings the lyrics “My team has strongly advised me not to say what I want to say”! Directly! Into the camera! Colleen, when your PR team/manager/agent is begging you not to say anything, listen to them. The power of posting remains undefeated.
The very next lyric: “I recently realized they never said that I couldn’t sing what I wanted to say”. She is using Air Bud rules to justify the video! Ain’t no rule says a dog can’t play basketball. Ain’t no rule says I can’t sing my thoughts! I am flabbergasted. This is virtuoso level dumbfuckery.
Also: I cannot get over the ukulele specifically. She’s addressing the most serious allegations she’ll ever face like she’s mid-2000s Zooey Deschanel. Not even the best comedy writers in America could top this.
We’ve also talked about how the new trend in celebrity PR strategy is to strike back. If people are trying to cancel you, hit back and say you’ve been misunderstood, they’re blowing it out of proportion, what you did was fine actually, etc. Just push through it, build your own narrative, and rely on your fans to stick with you. This sometimes works! But perhaps that strategy of ‘claim to be misunderstood and downplay what happened’ is a strategy that works better for edgy podcast jokes or financial malfeasance, and not as well for when you’ve been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior around kids.
Also, to repeat: If you absolutely must post, if you absolutely must take a combative stance where you deny, distract and downplay allegations. Do not ‘get creative’ while you do it by playing a ukulele over your defensive non-apology.
I’m reminded of the infamous interpretive dance apology video, but this somehow seems even worse.
If your apology video includes you singing the phrase “I’m not a groomer, I’m just a loser”, please for the love of god reconsider the video.
We’ve been talking quite a lot about how Redditors are angry at the site this month. The last time we checked in on Reddit’s drama, many of the volunteer moderator teams were engaging in malicious compliance with Reddit’s demands that they re-open their closed subreddits. There was plenty of marking previously SFW subreddits NSFW, restricting content to absurd categories, and other shenanigans. The anger stemmed from upcoming changes that will be made to Reddit’s API policy, and that deadline is up - starting tomorrow, almost all third party apps for Reddit will die.
My prediction for weeks has been that Reddit will eventually win this conflict, but in a slow and painful way that damages them:
Reddit isn’t going to be able to quickly or easily plan away these conflicts with moderators. This will drag out for a while. There are too many creative ways for mod teams to undermine them. And frankly, the amount of effort it would take to continuously monitor thousands of subreddits is not something Reddit wants to be involved in. The structure of the site and how much power is placed in the hands of moderators simply does not allow for any kind of fast resolution.
Ultimately, the moderators can’t win either. Reddit can and will do anything they want with their site. Most subreddits are already back open, and more will open with time. Users will eventually get bored with protesting and want their subreddits back. Network effects are far too strong and Reddit has no real competitors of any kind. There’s just no way for the mods to actually capture any kind of long term victory.
This prediction mostly seems to have come true. A quick perusal of Reddark shows that most big subreddits are back online, with a minority still holding out with malicious compliance protests. Reddit is *mostly* back to normal. In the big picture the protests will fail and the API changes will still take effect tomorrow. Reddit is no longer actively on fire.
At the same time, some very large subreddits are still completely restricted. Some are still in ‘John Oliver mode’. /r/videos has mandated profanity in every video title. As predicted, the site’s moderators are too creative for this to be quickly and easily quashed, and this could potentially drag out for months. To continue the fire theme - they’re not actively on fire, but the embers are still hot and smoldering.
This is despite a clumsy and heavy-handed approach from Reddit admins. They’ve made it very clear that communities will be opened by any means necessary. They’ve removed top moderators, banned moderator teams, and sent lots of very threatening messages. They’ve genuinely gone pretty damn hard at the protesting moderator teams.
It’s notable that they’ve also reversed course and unbanned plenty of mods, taken down subreddits and mod teams only to re-add them, and had a number of other embarrassing snafus. The perception I get is that there are maybe 5 total people managing the process for tens of thousands of subreddits, so they’re doing a lot of stuff algorithmically and making a lot of mistakes, which then get frantically undone. It explains why so many tiny subreddits with less then 500 users got the same copy-pasted message claiming ‘millions rely on your subreddit’.
The other argument I’ve made is that Steve Huffman, Reddit’s CEO, has handled this terribly at every turn. And to keep that theme going, there’s evidence that Reddit admins are removing posts that insult him. And verified Reddit employees on Blind are turning on Huffman.
Links and Posts
This one probably should have been in last week’s TWID, but another great example of Posting Is the Most Powerful Force - the Titan Submersible Stepson. He spent a full week bizarrely tweeting about going to concerts and living his life, while also having family dead at the bottom of the ocean. He would ask for prayers on Twitter and then 30 minutes later ask an OnlyFans model to sit on his face. A true masterclass in Posting Through It. He’s since deleted his account, but for one shining moment he was the funniest thing on Twitter.
People keep falling for Rage Bait As Influencer Tactic, and Nick Huber is the king. I’ve come around from being annoyed at him, to thinking that his schtick is great. His ability to figure out what will drive Twitter crazy and voluntarily get himself ratio’d is incredible.
The Atlantic has a pair of fascinating articles on social media - the first about how online ‘true crime’ sleuths caused misery in a small town, and the second about how we still don’t know how exactly social media affects teens.
Twitter broke and gave half the site a spam warning.
Grimace murders are the hot new trend.
Oppenheimer vs Barbie jokes continue to deliver.
We discuss a lot of insane things here, so every week we end with a lovely post that will make you feel great about the world. Here’s a TikTok of a furry friend who’s just like us.Tiktok failed to load.
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