In the past few months, there have been countless celebrities and social media stars in hot water for offensive tweets they published before becoming public figures. One vlogger, who has been under fire for offensive tweets from a few years ago, is now telling young social media users to be careful and monitor the language they use on the internet.
In the UK we’re in the midst of Christmas season which means I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! is being aired on TV. (For those who don’t know, it is essentially D-list celebrities living in a camp without connection to the world as they compete in grueling trials.) But early on, as the contestants were still getting to know each other, contestant Jack Maynard, was suddenly pulled out of the show in the first week.
Maynard, 23, is a successful YouTube vlogger, whose main channel boasts over 1 Million subscribers. Many UK viewers were unsure of who he was when he entered the TV show, leading many to research his Twitter. What slowly unearthed were offensive messages from 2011 of Maynard asking a then 14-year-old girl to send him bra pictures. When she declined, he called her a “bore” and an “ugly freak.”
Other tweets that came to light included him being blatantly offensive, with one reading: “If you get me to 1500 followers by tomorrow, I will kiss you… most likely rape you though.”
Maynard was unaware this was all happening (he had no internet connection in the camp) until he got a call from the show’s producers. That call ended in both parties agreeing that it would be best for him to leave. Since then, he has spoken out several times on his own YouTube channel and British tabloids, condemning his actions from the past.
(1/4) I have taken some time to reflect on the comments, tweets and ultimately my behaviour in the past, including a tweet sent in 2011 that is the subject of a story today…
— Jack Maynard (@Jack_Maynard23) November 28, 2017
He has now come out to warn his fans and fellow young social media users to be careful of what they write. He uploaded a vlog of him appearing on the British daytime TV show, Lorraine, and chose not to use any footage of himself on his vlog where they were talking about his twitter scandal in a desperate attempt to make his viewers forget the situation. In the clip of his interview he never showed his youtube following he talks to host Lorraine Kelly about how he knew he posted “stupid” things”. He shows a very blasé attitude when trailing off a sentence with “so yeah.. you got to be so careful.” The way he comes across in the interview is that he’s less sorry of who he offended along the way but just more sorry for himself that he got caught out. Is telling young people to ‘be careful’ going to stop the way use historically offensive words to hurt others or just use them carefully enough so that they receive no backlash themselves in the future?
This leads to the bigger question of can people truly unlearn offensive language and behavior they adopted as a child or teenager? Many celebrities and internet stars have had careers crash down after offensive tweets came to light. (The most recent backlash was Gigi Hadid’s ban from China before the Victoria Secret 2018 Fashion Show, due to a video that was posted of her mocking Asian people.)
Tweets of grime MC Stormzy recently resurfaced where he used the derogatory f-word and after an apology, he saw very little backlash. Many are saying that he’s learned from his mistakes.
The comments I made were unacceptable and disgusting, full stop. Comments that I regret and to everyone I’ve offended, I am sorry, these are attitudes I’ve left in the past. The homophobic language I used was, embarrassingly, a part of my vocabulary when I was younger and…
— Stormzy (@stormzy) November 22, 2017
There’s been a host of celebrities in all different career sectors that have been shunned for their ignorant and offensive tweets. Yet some celebrities in the same situation receive much lighter critique from the public, hailing the excuse that they have since changed and are just looking to start anew. This whole topic begs the question: Where is the cut off point for when people’s old tweets reflect who they still are today? Some offensive tweets from years ago are branded with “it was a different time,” yet it is easy to argue that point as people have always known what language comes from an offensive background.