New York, NY– When the public tends to go after a figure with a large platform, there are usually similar ways they go about it. The effectiveness of these tactics are in question much of the time, and even how successful they are in achieving their goals, whether they are trying to inform the individual or deplatform them entirely. Most of the time, the expected response is an apology, but what happens when the internet has public figures apologize for the sake of stopping negativity, rather than to be sincere?
Dream is a popular Minecraft YouTuber who has been blowing up and recently hit 20,000,000 subscribers. Besides his Minecraft videos, he is known for having a particularly toxic fanbase that many times border on being stalkers because of their obsession with Dream’s personality, as well as starting campaigns of hate towards people for the smallest of things. And Dream himself seems to encourage people to continue this time and time again. He jokingly posted this tweet, which disregards the awful behavior from a lot of his fans (cancelling being trying to encourage others to stop supporting a public figure).
In one of his most recent Minecraft videos, he used a particular background track that included a Navajo ceremony song in it at around the 6 minute mark. The video itself includes it as background music for under a minute, and the video’s premise is Dream trying to beat Minecraft as fast as possible while being chased by his friends. So what’s the big deal?
Twitter is known to be ground zero for calling people out, as it lets people with any opinion talk about anything. And Twitter is exactly where this all started. A user with the name Val shared their opinion on these tweets. They begin with a disclaimer, which is important because of the severe lengths people go when a public figure is criticized, such as exposing personal information or trying to pressure their sponsors to stop supporting them.
They then go over their opinions on Dream’s usage of the music:
And this part is especially important to keep in mind:
And he responded rather quickly.
But if you’ve kept close eyes on similar situations, the impact of this incident and the sincerity of Dream’s statement begin to come into question. A very similar event happened on Twitter just weeks before, in which he was accused of belittling indigenous culture by jokingly using a war cry when fighting a fictional war on Minecraft livestream. These are some Tweets from his second account, which is more for his dedicated followers, after finding out about this:
The tweets shown were soon deleted, and he then apologised in a live stream. On this stream he assumes a completely different approach to the situation, and the reason for this really narrows down to two possibilities: 1. He learned from his mistakes completely and was just in a bad mood, uneducated, or a mix of the two. 2. He wrote the first tweets with his ture opinion, and after more people piled on him to deplatform him, he deleted the tweets and apologized to halt further backlash.
I interviewed my friend, Atticus Sambar-Lande, who knew a lot about the situation and said, “Twitter is great for making people more aware of things, but it also tends to hide your true intentions, which makes it harder to know what people are trying to say.” Both of these situations involved Dream being accused of appropriating indigenous culture by accident, with the majority of online users and fans disagreeing with the accusations and then receiving some backlash. In the first situation, Dream seemed to show the opinion that many people shared, but once the negativity became more apparent, he apologized for the situation. As opposed to the latter situation, in which he immediately apologized before there could be much backlash from Twitter.
Dream may not have learned how he can improve on educating himself about indigenous culture, but rather more about how to please the negative masses. This is not only about Dream though; this has to do with the way the public holds people accountable. The apologies of public figures often are not made to educate themselves and improve their future selves, but to minimize criticisms, whether those criticisms are valid or not. In the end, we’ll never know for sure how genuine an apology is, but it is important to look at a figure’s past responses to see if they changed in the right direction.