When Guy “Dr Disrespect” Beahm released a statement apologizing for his behavior that led to a two-week suspension on Twitch, he did it from his personal Twitter account, which has 71,000 followers. That’s 1 million fewer followers than Beahm’s main Twitter account where he usually tweets under his streaming persona.
By not using his main channel to address the controversy, Beahm could take responsibility without worrying about damage to his brand. It’s a strategy that other creators, often those known for their brash personalities, have used as well. Just last night, Team 10, one of YouTube’s most popular and controversial vlogging collectives, issued a statement via an Instagram Story on behalf of the organization and Jake Paul, rather than through Paul’s far more popular main accounts.
Apologies can be a big deal for creators. They’ve become a staple in YouTube’s beauty community, with personalities like James Charles and Tati Westbrook pulling in millions of views for videos responding to controversies. By using their main channels to post apologies, those creators confront their issues head-on and show a willingness to accept responsibility for whatever happened. But other creators may not want their core fans to see them apologize. Posting on alternate platforms allows creators like Paul and Beahm to acknowledge an issue and say they’ve addressed it while largely sweeping things under the rug.
Paul has used this off-platform strategy on multiple occasions. Most recently, he’s had to address allegations of transphobic behavior after two trans women were allegedly kicked out of the Team 10 house. Although Paul was apparently absent from the house when the situation occurred, attention was on him to address it as the group’s leader. He vaguely referenced the incident on his Twitter account, but a Story on Team 10’s Instagram profile was used to address it directly (a tool that means the statement will disappear in 24 hours). Paul hasn’t addressed it on his main YouTube channel where he boasts nearly 20 million subscribers nor has he posted the statement to his Twitter account where he has 3.5 million followers.
Paul has done this before. He posted a pair of two-minute videos to Twitter in November 2017 after two former Team 10 members, Ivan and Emilio Martinez, accused Paul of bullying while they were living in the mansion.
Beahm highlighted the challenges of keeping his character and personal life separate, saying that led to the incident that got him banned: live-streaming while in a men’s bathroom while at E3. In his apology, he noted that “real life personas are so difficult to pull off.”
“We were sort of ‘all in’ with the Doc livestream experience and capturing the E3 event through the character,” Beahm wrote. “We were so into the E3 IRL (in real life) journey that we became a little blind in what’s ok and what’s not ok.”
Statements and apologies are important, but creators and influencers have turned that strategy into something more insidious. After Beahm apologized for his behavior at E3, he used his main Dr Disrespect Twitter account to mock two gaming journalists who wrote about his behavior at the convention. Doing so directed his fans to point their attention at said journalists and continue mocking them.
“When we look at it through the lens of what Guy did, as the persona of Dr Disrespect, and let’s be clear they are one in the same,” Andrea Rene, a host on YouTube’s Kinda Funny Games channel, said in a video. “If he made more appearances as Guy, I’d be able to swallow this pill a little easier, but he makes incredibly few. So it’s a little harder for me to understand that this is Guy making an apology on behalf of Dr Disrespect the brand. That to me is like, ‘ok, sure.’”
It’s a double-edged sword for creators like Beahm and Paul. If Dr Disrespect apologizes for something, he’s not staying authentic to his brand. But it’s hard to take his apology as Beahm “on behalf of the Dr Disrespect brand” as authentic when it’s a calculated play. Same with Paul. His decision to ignore the situation on his main account, relying on an Instagram Story that will allow Team 10’s statement to disappear after 24 hours, is strategic and inauthentic.
These aren’t apologies so much as necessary actions needed to remain in the good graces of the public eye. Every step is deliberate and, for people whose entire careers are built on the back of authenticity, their inability to be genuinely apologetic shouldn’t be celebrated.