Christine Hauser and Taylor Lorenz,
The New York Times Company
June 26, 2020 | 3:59 PM
Jenna Mourey, a YouTube persona who grew to become one of many platform’s first mainstream feminine stars as Jenna Marbles, stated Thursday that she was going to cease her channel amid a backlash over previous movies that she made in blackface and mocking Asian folks.
Mourey, whose channel has greater than 20 million subscribers, apologized in a video for the content material, which she made in 2011 and 2012 when she had simply established her channel. She stated she was abandoning the platform to “hold myself accountable.”
“I am ashamed of things I have done and said in my past,” she stated in a signoff video.
Unlike many different web celebrities, Mourey has been making movies for greater than a decade and managed to stay profitable on YouTube, a platform that may be massively worthwhile to folks making content material for it. Mourey stated in the 11-minute video that she wished to handle the movies as a result of “we’re at a time where we are purging ourselves of anything and everything toxic.”
“I think now it’s hard for that content to exist at all because I think people watch it and don’t bother to look at when it was posted or care about what path I took to get to where I am,” Mourey stated. “It offends them now, and, if that’s the case — where people will watch something and be offended now — I don’t want it to exist.”
Mourey stated that a number of the offending movies had beforehand been made non-public however that she was publicly addressing them as a result of she was getting questions on social media about why she had accomplished so. She defined that she didn’t need to contribute to placing out “negative things in the world.”
She stated she wished to handle two clips particularly. She replayed one in every of her impersonating rapper Nicki Minaj in 2011 whereas sporting a pink wig and along with her pores and skin darkened.
“It was not my intention to do blackface,” she stated within the video Thursday.
She additionally performed one other clip from 2011, which she referred to as “a bad year for me in judgment,” that featured Mourey singing a rap tune. In that video, Mourey is sporting a hat that resembles a Vietnamese non la and says sarcastically that she was being “racist” after mocking Asian folks by performing an offensive stereotype.
She additionally apologized for a video that she made in 2012 “ranting about girls sleeping around” that she stated demonstrated she had “internalized misogyny.”
Mourey stated that she made different movies non-public as a result of they may very well be hurtful to these fighting gender id, she added.
“I am just a person trying to navigate the world,” she stated.
Mourey stated she was going to maneuver on from posting movies on her channel however she didn’t know for the way lengthy or whether or not it could be a everlasting departure from the net world that she had created.
Her quick plans: “Just live and just be. That’s it,” she stated.
Mourey was the most recent public determine to handle the depictions of blackface in her previous. This week, episodes of “30 Rock,” the hit TV comedy collection, had been pulled from streaming providers as a result of they featured skits with white actors in blackface.
Late-night hosts Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon have every apologized for showing in blackface. The apologies have emerged amid nationwide protests over racism and police mistreatment of Black folks.
Mourey has expanded her work onto the livestreaming platform Twitch in recent times, the place she shares a channel along with her associate, Julien Solomita. The two appeared at TwitchCon in 2017 and had been nominated for a Shorty Award in 2018 for his or her work on Twitch.
Other YouTubers have additionally just lately come beneath hearth for racist skits, together with Shane Dawson, who has been repeatedly criticized for previous movies of him wearing blackface; and Jeffree Star, who was recently accused of creating racist and offensive comments. This week, YouTuber David Dobrik confronted backlash when an previous video of him and Liza Koshy surfaced by which they imitated speaking Japanese.
Many followers expressed unhappiness over Mourey’s resolution to depart YouTube, and a number of other resurfaced a video by which she mentioned race and privilege. “White privilege is a privilege, and if you don’t acknowledge it, that’s contributing to the problem. It’s not a victimless crime,” she says within the video.
Some YouTubers expressed disappointment over her resolution to depart and spoke about her impact on the neighborhood as one in every of its best-known feminine creators. “Jenna is a massive part of creation on YouTube,” tweeted YouTuber Sky Williams, who stated that he “grew up” watching her.
“We should be judged not by how we acted when we were ignorant but how we responded when we were informed,” YouTube star Hank Green wrote on Twitter. “By that measure, Jenna Marbles is head and shoulders beyond a great many YouTubers.”
But others pointed to the extraordinary abuse that Black folks confronted within the trade and the way it created limitations to success. “My tears are reserved for all the Black people who will never even attempt to have a YouTube career because they don’t want to be subjected to racism all day every day as a living,” standard YouTuber Akilah Hughes tweeted.
“I hope one day people can learn and change and grow before they make millions of dollars doing blackface,” she wrote.