The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Atheist Vegan YouTuber ‘Onision’ Accused of Being a Creepy Sexual Predator

Posted on | September 7, 2019 | No Comments

“Let me ask you something: If you murder animals on a regular basis, do you really think I give a f–k about your opinion?”
Onision, April 2009

Gregory Daniel Jackson, a/k/a “Onision,” is a YouTube personality with about 2 million subscribers who was originally famous for a silly performance called “I’m a Banana.” Now 33 years old, Onision has been called “YouTube’s most troubled star” because of his “bizarre and disturbing” content and his habit of provoking controversy. He is militant about veganism, for example, calling meat-eaters “murderers,” and despises Christianity, calling the Bible “a book of hate.”

Left to right: Onision, “Laineybot” and Sarah in 2017.

What has generated the most controversy about Onision in recent months, however, is a sort of #MeToo scandal involving a former fan named Sarah. When she was 14, Sarah says, she began communicating with Onision and his wife, then known as “Laineybot.” When she was 16, Sarah moved in with the couple, who referred to her as their foster child. Of course, Onision’s critics (“haters,” who are numerous) suspected that this was a ménage à trois, especially considering Onision’s history of sexual behavior toward teenage girls. Sarah would occasionally appear in videos with Onision and his wife, who is implicated in this scandal as an alleged perpetrator, and also is possibly a victim.

From what can be determined by a few hours of online research (I never heard of any of these people before Friday), about the time Onision’s first marriage ended in divorce in 2010, he cultivated a relationship with Laineybot, who was then 17. The couple married in 2011, and now have two children, born in 2014 and 2016. It was in 2017 that Sarah moved in with them, supposedly at Laineybot’s request. There are a lot more dimensions to the Onision scandal than this brief summary, however. For example, at one point there was a controversy about an online fan forum group where Onision’s underage fans were encouraged to post photos of themselves in their underwear so that Onision could “rate” them. Also, Onision’s wife has recently started calling herself “Kai” and claiming to identify as male, so that many accounts of the Onision scandal refer to her as “him” and call her Onision’s “husband.”

 

Popular transgender YouTube personalty Blaire White recently uploaded a video about this scandal that includes an interview with Sarah and, as Blaire emphasizes in the video, the word “allegedly” is necessary to any reporting about these accusations. No criminal charges have been filed against Onision or his wife/“husband,” but rather this situation has been described as “grooming” — they developed a relationship with Sarah as a minor, and then had sex with her after she turned 18, allegedly.

Well, you might ask, why pay attention to this bit of YouTube drama? First of all, recall that since Trump’s election in 2016, YouTube has been engaged in efforts to de-monetize, de-platform and otherwise suppress content from conservatives. Last year, conservative talk-radio host Dennis Prager filed a federal lawsuit accusing YouTube of illegal behavior toward his popular “Prager University” video channel.

Another reason to pay attention to this scandal, however, is what it says about 21st-century youth culture. A guy who first gained notoriety for dancing around in a video wearing a banana costume somehow became an influential “celebrity” with more YouTube subscribers than CNN has primetime viewers on an average night. Most of Onision’s fans are teenagers, or young adults who first subscribed to his channel when they were teenagers, so that his bizarre worldview — where Christianity is “hate” and eating a cheeseburger is “murder” — reflects an increasingly common attitude among American youth.

Twenty or 30 years ago, it was common for conservatives to speak of the cultural Left as endorsing “moral relativism,” but we see now that what the Left actually does is a sort of moral reversal, substituting new quasi-religious beliefs (e.g., pro-LGBT or anti-fossil fuels) as the basis of morality, while stigmatizing traditional beliefs.

A third point, closely related to the second, is the way celebrity culture is based on idolatry of superficially attractive people. This was a growing trend throughout the 20th century, before the Internet existed. When John Lennon said The Beatles had become “bigger than Jesus” in 1966, he was merely acknowledging the reality of their influence. Before the Beatles, teenage boys were wearing crewcuts and dreaming of becoming astronauts or whatever; by 1966, many thousands of those boys had hair down to their shoulders and were doing LSD, protesting the Vietnam War and exploring Eastern mystical religions. This sudden shift in youth culture had many influences, but there can be no doubt that the decisive moment was that February night in 1964 when Ed Sullivan said, “Ladies and gentlemen — The Beatles!” Once those four lovable moptops from Liverpool were established as objects of idolatrous adoration, whatever they said or did was sure to be emulated by many of their fans.

The effect of television’s influence on popular culture was critically examined in Neil Postman’s 1985 book, Amusing Ourselves to Death. Quite simply, TV elevates image over substance. Television’s pervasive influence produced a culture devoted to adoration of visual imagery, in which the Beautiful People can persuade their audience of almost anything — which is why TV advertising is so lucrative.

Once a person becomes addicted to this kind of visual imagery (think about people who “binge watch” certain TV series and then become part of online “fandom” communities devoted to the series), they tend to lose interest in the written word. Endless hours absorbed in YouTube videos are hours not spent in reading books, and also, these are hours not spent interacting in real life with actual human beings. The fantasy world of visual imagery — TV, movies, YouTube videos — means more to such addicts than do their real-life relationships with their parents, siblings, classmates or other acquaintances. And in this culture of visual imagery, the Beautiful People hold the reins. Whatever else you might say about Onision, he is remarkably good-looking, with his mop of dark hair and big blue eyes, which is no doubt a major factor in his YouTube success.

Unfortunately for Onision, however, time is running out on his Dorian Gray gig. When he first became a YouTube sensation, he was in his mid-20s and could function as a sort of “peer mentor” to teen viewers, but now that he’s approaching his mid-30s, he is increasingly implausible in such a role. Also, there is now more competition in the “YouTube celebrity” game, with younger up-and-coming personalities. Furthermore, the adjustments of YouTube algorithms and his own self-created scandals have reduced Onision’s revenue stream, so that in 2018 he and his wife/“husband” reportedly had to downsize their housing situation, moving to a smaller residence.

Eventually, and perhaps sooner than later, the downward trajectory of Onision’s career will reach a crisis point, as it becomes apparent that he has no sustainable future as a YouTube performer. But I’m just a meat-murdering “hater,” why should I expect him to care about my opinion?



 

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