Opinion: Every cancellation should be as swift as YouTuber David Dobrik’s

YouTube creator David Dobrik is in hot water after a March 16 article from Insider revealed new allegations of sexual assault on the part of Dominykas “Durte Dom” Zeglaitis, a member of the "Vlog Squad." In the article by journalist Kat Tenbarge, an extra from one of Dobrik’s vlogs who preferred to remain anonymous said she was raped by Zeglaitis the night they filmed the video together in 2018.

This isn’t the first time Zeglaitis has been accused of sexual assault. In 2017, he was accused of groping and kissing YouTube creator Ally Hardesty without her consent. Hardesty called the behavior out in a video, but it received a lot of hate from Vlog Squad fans and no support from Dobrik himself.

Usually, social media scandals go in one ear and out the other for me, but the current situation surrounding Dobrik is one I’m finding hard to ignore.

Dobrik left intoxicated girls with his best friend, someone who admitted to sexual assault in the past. And he filmed it, playing it for laughs in a vlog that he’d make a profit on and forget about, while the victims will deal with their trauma for the rest of their lives.

The whole situation and what it says about YouTube culture in Los Angeles is disgusting. From letting underage girls drink to inviting fans over for sex, there’s a massive power imbalance in play among content creators.

Unsurprisingly, the article blew up, and Dobrik did what so many influencers have done before: he issued a pathetic, cover-your-ass two-minute apology on his side channel with dislikes and comments turned off.

Dobrik was hoping this would blow over like it did with Hardesty.

But what Dobrik didn’t account for was the recent swing of people advocating for justice for assaulted women and believing the women who bring these stories forward.

What absolutely destroyed any respect I had left for Dobrik happened once his sponsors started pulling out. Dobrik was dropped by Chipotle, HelloFresh, Honey and at least 10 others, so he immediately ran to his main channel to run damage control with another, just as pathetic, seven-minute apology video.

I think it’s abysmal that Dobrik only decided to “genuinely” apologize for his part in this crime once his wallet started to hurt. He even finally reached out to Hardesty.

Dobrik’s cancellation is unique in that he didn’t really have any scandals before this, and yet his punishment was immediate and most importantly, efficient.

I was never a fan of Dobrik’s personally, and before this scandal, all I knew about him was the big stuff: he was the ringleader of the “Vlog Squad,” gave away Teslas and most recently orchestrated a puzzle gambling contest.

Dobrik’s cancellation is sticking with me because although I never watched him, I considered him of a higher moral caliber than most Los Angeles YouTubers. Every time someone I watch discussed him, they always had nice things to say.

I’m not saying he isn’t usually a good person, or more likely, nice to the faces of other influencers. But I am saying it’s rare for something like this to come out so suddenly and be met by a mutual consensus. I’m glad that so many people were willing to stand up to a creator and tell them what they did was wrong, even if it’s in the past, and it makes me hopeful that people will fight against entitlement culture on YouTube in the future.

I’m not trying to imply that I want every creator who slightly messes up to be de-platformed overnight. But I think that there’s a huge difference between accidentally saying something insensitive out of ignorance and crimes like the one Dobrik was complicit in.

Dobrik should have been de-platformed when he posted the original video, full stop. Someone should have stepped in and said it wasn’t OK. But I suppose it’s better late than never, and at least Zeglaitis’ victims are receiving the support they should have had from the beginning.

What bothers me most about the Dobrik situation is that clearly, canceling creators can work to get the public’s message across. So why is it that Dobrik’s cancellation only took a few days, when other, arguably more problematic, creators like Jeffree Star, James Charles and Shane Dawson have had years, in some cases a decade, of controversies immortalized on the internet?

If there’s anything the public should take away from this situation, it’s that your voice is important. No one can cancel a creator alone, and it takes hundreds of thousands of fans speaking up to enact real change in the YouTube sphere.

I implore YouTube viewers to stop allowing scandals to be swept under the rug. Do not ignore your conscience when it comes to watching someone you know is problematic. There are so many other creators who are genuinely good people, many of whom are smaller and would appreciate the support so much more than Dobrik or anyone else with a platform his size.

When a YouTube creator messes up, unsubscribe from their channels to signal that you won’t support them if the situation is not addressed. If you’re brave enough, leave a respectful comment outlining why what they did was wrong.

Situations will never get better unless a change is made, and underestimating your power as a fan is the quickest way to ensure that a celebrity gets away with their crimes.

@Sam_Knowles00

features-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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