How YouTube made this super-smart movie critic a star


Many of YouTube’s most popular critical voices, from the extremely perceptive socio-political thinker ContraPoints, to the crackpot moviegoers of Red Letter Media, have huge following on Patreon, where followers support creators by pledging regular donations. Ellis currently has 6,000 donors on the site, which represents more than half of its revenue, with the remainder coming largely from YouTube advertising and sponsorship revenue.

Ellis is at PatreCon for a question-and-answer group titled “You Can’t Be Everyone’s Favorite,” about creators facing criticism online. Ellis is now an expert witness. A few months earlier, in August, a year-old tweet in which she joked about the “white genocide” – a neo-Nazi conspiracy theory – was unearthed, which led to a coordinated harassment campaign against her. .

Soon she was inundated with threatening messages, the tenacity and tenacity of attackers “far worse” than she had known during her Channel Awesome days. In the years since Gamergate, Ellis’ stalkers had learned to mobilize quickly and the attack had “a sense of direction,” she said. “It has become a lot more coordinated.

Some of her abusers tried to shame Ellis for a years-old documentary recounting her experiences with abortion; others have circulated the news of her arrest for public drunkenness in 2017, while attending the bachelorette party of a family member. And there have been many angry calls to various affiliates of PBS, which produces Ellis’ web video series focused on the book “It’s Lit”.

The network, says Ellis, has supported her. But having “6,000 Nazis trying to get me fired” put her “on the verge of complete mental collapse.” (It didn’t help, she notes, that a multi-year effort to sell a novel failed just before the attacks started.) There was a lot of crying and a lot of alcohol. “It’s very, very difficult to see Lindsay take care of it,” Meehan says. “The personality she presents is acerbic and brutal – and those parts of her are there. But at the end of the day, he’s a very sensitive and caring person.

You cannot get used to such attacks. “It’s not the first time something like this has happened to me, even at this level,” she said. “And it won’t be the last. And knowing means having to live in constant fear. Even Green, who’s been online for over a decade and has seen his fair share of stacks, is surprised at the vitriol Ellis receives. “The internet currently exists in a ‘trap’ space, where people are trying to gain points against the opposition,” he says. “It’s like, ‘What does it matter if human beings are in the way? “”

Like other campaigns of harassment Ellis has endured, last summer’s incident came without warning. Some of her stalkers, she suspects, just don’t like her since the days of Channel Awesome. Others target her because she is politically progressive and because she was a staunch supporter of James Gunn when he was fired by Disney after discovering his own old Tweets. But it’s not necessarily what Ellis says online or in her videos that triggers her attackers. Some, she says, are just furious that she says anything. “They don’t like women talking,” says Ellis.

And so, shortly before the end of the conference, Ellis takes to the small stage at PatreCon, dressed in jeans and a black Transformers t-shirt. She talks about how she has censored herself in the past to avoid topics that might irritate people. She points out how some stalkers try to lure her into the quarrels on Twitter with spurious arguments. And she notes that there is no support system in place to help people who face such issues on an hourly basis. Twenty years ago Ellis lived very publicly and very happily online. Now, she told the crowd, “I had to shut myself off more and more. “

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