Hi. I’m Tyler.

I’m a writer and musician based in Atlanta. Often thinking about culture, tech, and retrofuturism.

Kevin Spacey, PewDiePie, and The Implications of 'Let Me Be Frank'

Kevin Spacey, PewDiePie, and The Implications of 'Let Me Be Frank'

On the afternoon of perhaps one of the bleakest and most chaotic Christmas Eves ever, Kevin Spacey of all people had a message for the American people that’s nearly just as bizarre and disturbing. Despite laying low and out of the spotlight following his #MeToo moment, his strange coming out letter in response, and watching his iconic-ish Frank Underwood character killed off in the final season of House of Cards, Spacey had something to say. Though instead of doing an interview with 60 Minutes, releasing a press statement, or even a string of tweets, he took to YouTube.

Nearly simultaneous to the breaking news that he’s been charged in Massachusetts for felony sexual assault of an 18-year-old man he allegedly met in a bar, he donned a Christmastime apron & his famed southern drawl and uploaded the double-entendre-laden vlog titled “Let Me Be Frank.”

To no one’s surprise, the reception is mixed.

As of writing this, and only about 5 hours after it was uploaded, ‘Let Me Be Frank’ has currently amassed over 750,000 views, 13,000 ‘dislikes,’ and surprisingly, over twice as many ‘likes’ (30,000). The comments section is littered with jokes, and while some took offense, nearly just as many people, if not more, seem happy to hear from the acclaimed actor, pending criminal charges be damned.

I’m calling ‘Let Me Be Frank’ a vlog because, well, it kind of is. Despite the look and feel of Frank Underwood’s fourth-wall-breaking style and allusions to his fictional death in House of Cards, Spacey is very clearly talking about his own life and fall from grace. Honestly, it’s a stroke of disturbed genius to make a video at such a murky intersection between vlog, fan-fiction, and self-confessional. He doesn’t believe his media crucifixion was fair, and his frustration, felt through the fake-friendly southern accent, implies he has a lot to say in his own defense. The question is, who is going to listen?

Well, probably a ton of people.

Spacey’s several sexual assault allegations weren’t particularly news to those in the Hollywood know, especially when reminded that his frequent collaborator and friend Bryan Singer has his own string of accusations, even inspiring a whole predatory subplot in season 4 of Queer As Folk. The debaucherous sex parties and fast-and-loose rules when it came to intimacy with starry-eyed young men with big Hollywood dreams was simply commonplace, if not accepted in the Hollywood gay community. Though that’s no excuse for the behavior or any of the likely manipulative and dastardly actions these powerful men took, the fact of the matter is that much like Cosby and Weinstein, these weren’t secrets, and they still get work (Bohemian Rhapsody is in Theaters now).

Now let’s take a look at the platform; YouTube. More specifically, YouTube’s most popular creator, PewDiePie. Sure, he’s amassed an insane 78 million subscribers on the platform, and yet, he can’t seem to help himself from getting caught up in racist and anti-semitic controversy, after controversy, after controversy. Though, YouTube and Google have yet to take any meaningful action against one of their biggest revenue generator (no, canceling a YouTube original series doesn’t count), and why would they? If the content is not against their terms of use, creators are free to upload whatever they’d like. Unlike traditional media, they’re not beholden to brand deals, advertisers, or virtually any supervision or censorship. So if Spacey wants to start telling ‘his side of the story’ in the form of monetizable entertainment, what’s actually stopping him?

If Kevin Spacey understands this, which he probably does, the next chapter in his self-confessional, quasi-Frank Underwood fanfiction is just around the corner; and his now-growing social media base (he’s gained nearly 10,000 YouTube subscribers today) is on the edge of their seat.

The line between real-life, the internet, and entertainment is dissolving, fast. In a world where even presidents can shut down whole governments to appeal solely to their minority base, controversial figures with sometimes even more controversial views can generate revenue and spread their message without the help, advisement, or edit of anyone else. Kevin Spacey escaped the Hollywood system to spearhead the future with House of Cards, the first-ever streaming TV web series, and sparked a revolution in media & entertainment. And now, it’s entirely possible he’ll strike gold a second time. We’ve entered the age of the Academy-Award Winning Vlogger.

Tyler Scruggs is a writer and musician living in Atlanta with his partner Mark. When he’s not churning out internet content, he’s paying too much for coffee and buying movie tickets weeks in advance. Feel free to validate him on Twitter (@TylerScruggs), Instagram (@Scruggernaut), and YouTube.

Happy New Year from Tyler Scruggs

Happy New Year from Tyler Scruggs

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