Since we last came together to discuss the free speech battle absolutely shaking the vegan YouTube community to its core, so much has happened. I do not know exactly what, but so much has happened.
If you’ll recall, Freelee the Banana Girl (aka Leanne Ratcliffe)—a longtime vegan YouTuber with nearly 700K followers who advocates eating 30+ bananas a day and, relatedly, enjoys accusing other vloggers of promoting eating disorders, the latter for which she has been sued—is involved in #drama with multiple YouTube celebrities, most notably wellness entrepreneur/YouTube personality Cassey Ho, AKA Blogilates, who promotes, among other things, a “bikini meal plan” of about 1700 calories per day.
Over the past few weeks, Freelee and another vegan vlogger, Vegan Gains, have both claimed that Blogilates is filing copyright claims against them in an attempt to get critical videos taken down, or, as Freelee has put it, “trying to suppress my freedom of speech with her corporate lawyers.” Freelee, according to the caption under one video, believes that Cassey Ho is “Trying to snuff out the well known vegans so she can take our place??” The Blogilates channel sometimes includes vegan recipes, but Cassey Ho is not a vegan, according to one passionate Blogilates fan (they refer to themselves as POPsters) who emailed me and contended that according to her Snapchat, she “eats poke bowls all the time!”
A quick interlude for fact-checking purposes:
We have not found evidence of Cassey Ho or her company, OGorgeous, inc., having sued Leanne Ratcliffe; Freelee has posted a screenshot of a YouTube takedown notice, which is not the same as a lawsuit despite the fact that Freelee described it as a “legal document.” We did find, however, that Cassey Ho and OGorgeous, inc. are being sued by the National Association for Fitness Certification, with whom the lawsuit states she had developed a training program, for breach of contract. The trial is set for February 2017. When reached for comment, a Blogilates representative sent Jezebel the following statement:
“Cassey is so grateful for her POPsters who have been with her since she posted her first POP Pilates workout video on YouTube in 2009. The supportive, passionate and genuine dynamic between Cassey and her community is what makes Blogilates such a positive place to be online.
It is important to clarify that there is no lawsuit against Leanne Ratcliffe. The only disagreement that is pending is with NAFC, in which our organization has filed a countersuit for infringement of trademark and copyright of Cassey’s brand, POP Pilates.”
The Blogilates representative did not provide comment on whether or not Cassey is a vegan.
Back to the drama:
Although Cassey Ho has not directly engaged with Freelee (there have been some subtweets), this has not stopped Freelee from continuing to update her fans (Fruit Bats) on “the Blogilates situation,” which, despite having just written several paragraphs of words about it, I still do not completely understand and do not care to.
In addition to posting videos about The Blogilates Situation (“Blogilates mocks me on Twitter...”, “This might be my last video...:(”“Instagram proof of Blogilates illegal activities & silencing small channels,” Blogilates WILL NOT stop + Vegan community hates me??”), Freelee has taken to social media to criticize Ho for her allegedly litigious ways and also for eating pancakes:
Which brings us, finally, to the epic battle being waged between POPsters and Fruit Bats in the comment sections of Freelee and Blogilates’ respective YouTube channels and Instagram accounts. The future is here, everyone, and I would like to leave!
Like some kind of way, way more embarrassing Beyhive, if Beyoncé was a terrifying Australian in leggings who encouraged her fans to eat like Donkey Kong and never get chemo, Freelee’s Fruit Bats have, over the past several weeks, been swarming into Cassey Ho’s various channels to set her straight:
Blogilates fans, never ones to take a banana attack lying down, have launched a counter-insurgency:
What will happen next? Will the Fruit Bats continue posting bananas on social media? Will Cassey Ho respond to Freelee’s allegations? Will Freelee get diarrhea? Will speech remain free? Will I continue to get Instagram followers from the wellness community because they saw that I followed @Blogilates?
I don’t know, bye!
This has been a Vegan YouTube Drama Update.
Image via Getty, gif by Bobby Finger.
Additional reporting by Anna Merlan.