On Sunday, beauty YouTuber Manny MUA (real name Manny Gutierrez) posted a 35-minute long vlog about being “Cancelled.” The video referenced the Beauty YouTuber drama of August 2018, when he posed for a photograph with fellow influencers Nikita Dragun, Laura Lee, and Gabriel Zamora. The image and its caption, “Bitch is bitter because without him we’re doing better,” posted by Zamora, was taken as a diss against fellow YouTuber Jeffree Star, conspicuously absent from the photo. (A few days prior, Zamora had tweeted and deleted a long thread accusing Star of making racist comments.)
It spiraled from there: Star’s ravenous fans attacked everyone who posed for photo by digging up their most problematic social media posts. They successfully resurfaced a handful of hateful tweets by Laura Lee; Star stans circulated a Snapchat of Manny MUA allegedly side-eyeing an Uber driver for not speaking English. Like Lee before him, he felt the wrath of the community, and has had a hard time recouping his losses since. In his latest video, Manny discusses the trauma of the ordeal: he describes being unable to get out of bed for three weeks post-drama, he mentions that he lost thousands of followers and continues to lose them and, most importantly, that even though he was “canceled,” he’s totally fine now.
YouTuber apology videos, a genre built by the make-up free, teary-eyed influencers who spill their guts to salvage their brands, has changed in the last few months. Fans, now hip to the formula, are justifiably questioning the format’s authenticity. In July, BeauTuber Jaclyn Hill posted an apology video for releasing a makeup collection dotted with mold, black spots, and white hairs. While Hill may have sounded remorseful, but she said “I’m sorry” only once—instead, the video was designed to launch her redemption story. Manny MUA’s video is similar. He’s not fishing for forgiveness; he wants to discuss how he’s changed in the months since the incident. At one point he says, “I know I’m red on Social Blade but I feel, genuinely, that I’m green in life experiences.”
Eventually Manny MUA moves along to his real topic of contention, cancel culture as a concept. Though he describes being canceled as “truly the most terrible thing I’ve ever been through in my life,” he says he’s learned to manage his experience through therapy. He also warns his subscribers that attacks that target teenaged YouTubers, specifically those members of the LGBTQIA+ community, they can “decide to hurt themselves..in a very negative way.” (Manny MUA is gay, but it is unclear whether or not he is referencing a specific creator when he chose to change his focus to young, queer YouTubers.)
There’s a fine line, of course, between genuine cruelty and criticisms. A better use of Manny MUA’s time would be to establish how others could find redemption like he did because as the rest of us are well-aware, cancel culture doesn’t really exist—most scandals just fuel their creators brands. And judging by the 638,000 views Manny MUA has raked in (in the last few months, his vlogs have received roughly half that) he’s on to something.
Other YouTubers will go this route and a new formula will emerge soon enough: Don’t apologize, blame the culture.