BY KAREN SUROS
Recently, a number of old, offensive tweets have resurfaced from the past, damaging the careers of social influencers from all walks of life. From YouTubers like beauty-guru Laura Lee to prominent Hollywood directors like James Gunn, it seems just about everyone has a controversial past.
Some of the posts deemed offensive make light of sensitive and serious topics such as rape and pedophilia. Others show instances where public figures were sexist, racist, homophobic or, in some cases, all of the above. A few include instances of body shaming.
Evidently, influencers suffer great consequences for the things they’ve said (or tweeted) before they rose to fame. Azealia Banks was dropped from her record label after aiming racist and homophobic tweets at Zayn Malik, according to BBC.
“The tweets deserve to be resurfaced,” sophomore Maria Potter said. “That obviously reveals a lot of unknown character from that influencer that their supporters deserve to know.”
However, an offensive past is not limited to tweets. Many modern celebrities have made upsetting comments captured by videos, interviews and more. YouTubers Jeffree Star and Shane Dawson, among others, have been forced to confront their racist pasts and reflect on how they’ve grown since.
Offensive tweets– particularly from the early 2010s– seem to be some kind of trend, in the sense that many celebrities have used the platform to share their not-so-nice opinions and harmful jokes. Although these tweets have existed for some time, it’s only now that they’re being acknowledged and the responsible parties are being held accountable. It shows an unconscious shift in the way our society thinks– clearly, discrimination is much less tolerated today.
As these tweets have resurfaced, apologies have been produced. James Gunn, director of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” posted a series of tweets apologizing for the inappropriate comments he made in the past. Some of his coworkers have shown solidarity; Michelle Yeoh told Yahoo she was “horrified” by his firing.
But not all apologies generate support. Laura Lee’s four-minute video posted to her YouTube channel brought backlash, as people accused her of being insincere.
“People can change and it’s evident whether or not they have,” Potter said. “If they put up some quick apology that involves fake crying then that obviously shows that they don’t care and that those offensive tweets are still most likely a part of their character.”
The issue of celebrities publishing problematic, offensive things has not been resolved as of yet, and it’s likely that it will never be. Just this May, Roseanne Barr’s show had to be canceled by ABC because of her racist comment about former president Barack Obama. It would be much too difficult to restrict people from posting what they want to, and that wouldn’t be much of a solution anyway.
A good rule to follow, though, would be to think twice before posting something online– where it will always be for the world to see. Jack Maynard, a YouTube star who apologized for racist and homophobic tweets, may have said it best: “Don’t put anything online you wouldn’t say to your mum.”
Photo curtesy of Techcrunch