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Influencer Apologies All Sound The Same For A Reason

Is it just me, or have influencer apologies on YouTube been on the rise as of late? Influencers like James Charles and Jeffree Star keep coming out and apologizing for their past wrongful actions or affiliations. Saturday Night Live even made a sketch mocking these videos because they’ve become so common. Now, I understand that people make mistakes – and that it’s important to take accountability for those mistakes. But if these influencers are actually being incere, then why do all influencer apologies sound exactly the same? It’s like “Influencer Apology” has become a genre all on its own, with multiple compilations, reactions, and even remakes of apologies living across the web, making it clear that the world isn’t taking these apologies as seriously as they used to. 

As an avid YouTube fan, I’ve found that influencers lean into a certain routine that informs the same outcome: Apology videos. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Logan Paul.) The pattern is as follows:

  1. The YouTuber gets exposed – normally an old tweet or video where they say or do something problematic. 
  2. The exposure becomes viral, which leads the YouTuber to make an off-the-cuff video that, nine times out of 10, makes the situation worst.
  3. They disappear for a while, and the next time you see them, it’s in a more formal apology video. 
  4. They announce that they’re taking a longer break from social mediavto reflect on their mistakes. 
  5. They show back up one day and continue on as if nothing ever happened.

Are you experiencing déjà vu? Maybe that’s because you just saw that David Dobrik is following this format to a T.

A YouTube apology is like an influencer’s version of PR nightmare press release. When a higher-status celebrity makes a mistake, their PR team releases an official statement on their behalf, explaining the situation and issuing a formal apology. Since YouTubers aren’t on the scale of celebrity stardom, they release an apology video instead on YouTube. Again, there’s nothing wrong with taking accountability – except when you use a copycat script, and you do so over and over.  

Take James Charles, Jeffree Star, and Shane Dawson, for example. All three have published formal video apologies, and though these videos all came years apart from each other, there are a number of similarities between them. As they begin, they allude to the fact that they’re alone with their audience. Star states, “I wanted to have a one on one with you guys,” while Charles says, “I’m alone here in the studio.” I wonder if this is meant to make the interaction feel more personal, but it’s hard to do so with clean (and obvious) edits and transitions. 

“When an apology starts to sound too familiar, it loses its sincerity.”

They also all point out something along the lines of, “It’s okay if you don’t like me, or accept my apology,” especially between Star and Dawson. Star begins his statement by thanking the fans who still support him, going on to say, “But there are other people out there that do not like me, and that’s okay.” When I heard this, it was like a bulb went off above my head – I immediately thought to myself, “Didn’t Shane say the same thing?” Almost! “If you don’t accept my apology, then that’s 100% okay,” Dawnson says. Now, mind you — these two videos were made three years apart.

The repetition gets at the heart of why fans no longer take apology videos seriously. They’ve become expected, formulaic, and dishonest. When an apology starts to sound too familiar, it loses its sincerity. And the constant similarities are past suspicious, and bordering on annoying and cringeworthy. And personally, as a fan, when a creator is often involved in drama and apologizes as a rite of passage, I find myself quietly backing away from their content. 

Influencers, enough with the video apologies. We’re desentized to their performance. They don’t work on us anymore. 

Amber is a senior at the J. Mack Robinson College of Business, Georgia State University. She is passionately working towards a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing. She is a fast learner who enjoys trying new things and analyzing any problem. She is the Social Media Co-Chair for Her Campus GSU and the VP of Advertising for American Marketing Association GSU Chapter. Amber is currently looking for marketing opportunities in social media, tech, and other related fields. In her free time, you can find her either reading, listening to a podcast, or watching Netflix.