I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how I will word this letter. There are many instances as to what can happen after I post this; I, like many, can be scrubbed from existence in the MaxFun universe, I can get yelled at and called an asshole, or someone might see where I’m coming from. I’m really hoping for the latter, but even all that being said I still have in mind that I am just a small internet person with no real impact on the world.
This is from one content creator to another. My name is Ann, AKA Random TJ (and Random Frodo) and I’ve been a huge fan of McElroy and Smirl content for 4+ years after I was initially introduced to it while working as a cast member onset of The Chris Gethard Show. A longtime fan suggested I take a listen, boy, it was a whirlwind from there. The shows were always enjoyed, so many goofs, very candid and sincere humor, you could tell the boys were genuine and cared about their fans. My favorite part about the brothers was that even though they were good ol’ boys from WV they acknowledged when they messed up and always improved from there.
This is not one of those instances. I know that this looks like it is about to turn grim but I want to assure anyone who has gotten to this point that this letter is going to be as un-angry as possible and as matter-of-fact as I can manage. (Which is currently very difficult for me)
My father is Puerto Rican, my mother’s family are gypsies, which means I grew up differently from my white friends and neighbors. While my friends at school were getting the sex talk I was getting the racism talk, the “pick your friends wisely” talk, the “‘mommy and daddy, why are they staring?’” talk, the “learn to protect yourself on the street” talk, the “here is what you say to a cop” talk. I was only 8 when I moved to Orlando and these talks started, 8 years old was when the already lingering fear of being different was confirmed by my parents as real and worse than I could imagine. In 2004, my first week of school in the backwoods burbs of Longwood Florida, I was stopped by police while walking home from early release day. They kept me in the back of their car for 2 hours while trying to verify I wasn’t skipping school. In 2012 my last year of public school I was beaten so badly for being a spic that I was out of school for a month. In 2014 I stood on the steps on the Sanford Courthouse, the same courthouse where Trayvon Martins murderer walked free, waiting with 50 other people for the verdict on the Mike Brown case, even though we already knew we still had hope. In 2016 two of my friends were shot and killed, alongside 47 others, in a gay nightclub in SODO Orlando by a man who couldn’t understand and didn’t want to. These small stories from one short life are a small sparkle in a massive sea of daily hardships of racism and homophobia; they will never begin to account for the immeasurable pain these communities feel. Something that started from an early age and has grown and evolved into a twisted mangled mess of abuse and agony that is inescapable for any LGBTQI, for any POC. This is the reality for us.
Myself and many others have witnessed a number of concerning things in official McElroy / Smirl fan groups that is above slightly concerning to say the least. A few examples are posts detailing homophobia, fatshaming/bodyshaming, racism and denial of privilege, and ableism. These posts are released into groups with strict moderation standards that require posts to be approved by admins before allowing them to be seen by the entire group. Addressing the issue of moderation and how content is sorted and released would have been a preventative measure and not a proactive solution. More moderators does not mean less harmful content, more aware moderators means less harmful content. There have been multiple occasions where people have spoken up against this type of verbal violence only to be removed, banned, blocked, and the posts remained. When content creators like TCGS or families like the McElroy’s or Smirl’s create a space where they actively invite and welcome people of marginalized groups, while making changes to their language and behavior to ensure their comfortability, they have subsequently set a standard for how their community and their personal actions will reflect or influence the content they produce. It is your job to decide who you want to appeal to, and when you decide, it is your job to experience and prepare for the fallout of fans who you’ve hurt.
I know everyone is waiting to address the Still Buffering issue, so I will do so now. As a POC, and as many other POC feel, I agree with Sydnee. Hear me out before you get mad please. I agree with Sydnee 100%. A group of white Catholic moms cannot do a topic like racism or white privilege justice. They just really aren’t equipped to recognize their contribution to white privilege and racism, ALL white people’s contribution. I have yet to meet a fan who is mad purely because they didn’t want to talk about a certain topic, instead, you made excuses, you left a 16 year old girl to clean up your mess, then you weaponized her in your fight against the Angry Black Women™. The fact you can metaphorically “censor” people by turning on post approvals or using your internet popularity to shun someone from a community because that fact upsets you, you are in return, proving the exact point. That you can’t recognize your privilege, that you can use your privilege to escape or ignore racism while others are forced to witness, experience, and live it every day. That is why people are upset.
Getting called mean names is not an excuse to not apologize or recognize your privilege, having a child is not an excuse to not apologize or recognize your privilege. Two wrongs don’t make a right. You still have a fault, be humble. Admit them, learn and grown. Be open to changing your mind, being wrong is not the worst thing in the world, I promise.
The ability to decide someone shouldn’t know about racism yet is an exercise of privilege. The ability to ignore or avoid talks about racism is an exercise of privilege. Remaining silent or neutral during acts of violence is taking the side of the aggressor. If this makes you uncomfortable, it probably applies to you.
Once, you were holding my hand. Today I am letting go.