20-year-old Kelvin Peña, more famously known as Brother Nature, went viral on Twitter for his adorable videos of him hanging out with animals, where they seem completely comfortable around him. What started as a few videos of him and Canela, a deer that appears in many of his earlier videos, snowballed into Peña becoming revered by the Internet. Every video he posted of him and his animal comrades went viral.
As of lately, Peña seemed to be enjoying his fame and the perks of being on ‘the good side’ of the Internet. That is, until someone decided to leak his old tweets on Twitter.
Around 2pm on October 21st, 2018, screenshots of Peña’s problematic tweets from 2012, when Peña was about twelve, surfaced. Twitter immediately split into three camps. One-third of Twitter crucified him for his racism, sexism, and overall problematic language. They said that it didn’t matter what age he was when he tweeted these things, he was now canceled.
The other third publicly announced their continued support for him, arguing that he was still a kid when he made the tweets. They argue that 2012 was a different time, and that Brother Nature had helped them through tough times so they refused to cancel him.
The final third, partially made up of those from the aforementioned groups, took the opportunity to poke fun at Brother Nature being exposed, creating memes centered on the controversy.
Peña isn’t the first on Twitter, or social media in general, to face the wrath of the public in the last few years as cancel culture has grown. He is the latest in a long line of celebrities who have been subjected to the Internet’s opinion on his past transgressions, joining Shania Twain, Azealia Banks, Doja Cat, Shane Dawson, and many more. No celebrity is safe from being canceled, but whether that stays that way is a conversation for another day. When problematic information surfaces about a celebrity, they should strap up and be prepared for the onslaught of online hate that will flood their social media accounts. When Twitter takes ahold of someone who’s been canceled, there’s no erasing the fallout. The consequences can range from reversible, like in Taylor Swift’s case,
to irreversible, like with James Gunn.
After Peña was treated to a barrage of hate for a few hours, he made his account private. Only his 1.4 million followers had access to his Twitter activity, a signal to the rest of the world that he was no longer entertaining haters and harassment. At 6:55pm, Peña released a screenshot of his apology, written on the iPhone Notes app, as many heartfelt messages posted on Twitter have been before.
The next day, he made his profile public again and continued to Tweet as if nothing had happened. As of October 28th, the tweet has received almost 100,000 retweets and almost half a million likes, numbers that very few tweets get to see. His follower count has also jumped from 1.4 to 1.59 million. By the amount of new followers and the attention his tweet received, it is clear that Brother Nature is still beloved by the Internet, and that he still has many people in his corner.
Scrolling through Peña’s tweets and retweets post-controversy, there oddly seems to be no mention from other Twitter users of his scandal on his posts. Like many controversial events that occur online, his hate has been replaced by the same tweets from fans he has gotten since day one. Looking at his Twitter, it’s as if the exposure of his tweets never happened. When the next scandal happens (and it will) create your own timeline and see how quickly it comes and goes. More likely than not the controversy will play out like a sand castle annihilated by a wave. Time will engulf the scandal and drag it away as if nothing happened.
At the end of the Brother Nature controversy, I have three questions that I still struggle to answer. At what point, if there is one, does cancel culture stop being about calling out problematic people? Where is the line drawn for who gets to be forgiven when they are exposed? And at what age are we no longer allowed to make mistakes, on and offline?