The frank truth is that the Internet Historian didn’t apologize when he plagiarized an entire article and was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in ad revenue as a reward. But his cult-like fandom has entered true tribalism mode to defend him nonetheless. To move on and forgive and forget and compartmentalize that this very successful, very rich creator is a thief and liar.
The new Hbomberguy video on Youtube plagiarism doesn’t focus a ton on the Internet Historian; it’s just one section of many in the sprawling four-hour documentary. But it’s incredibly damning because it’s the one so far where there’s been no real fallout for the creator.
The main subject of the video removed his entire internet presence overnight. One of the others already paid the price years ago, and one earlier this year. The Angry Video Game Nerd had his reputation hurt bad by staff plagiarism years ago, but it’s more like a sad cap on the continuous decline of his channel. But the Internet Historian? Fans out there defending the hell out of the guy, just rabid.
He fully plagiarized another article for his video, stole its ideas and its exact wording. Then, after it was taken down, he reuploaded it with minor changes–changes that do not pass muster under Fair Use whatsoever–and credited the original author. But the Internet Historian didn’t apologize. Didn’t admit to doing anything wrong. Didn’t actually remake the material–just reworded sentences so they were only stealing the ideas and structure, not the exact content. It’s egregious and easily proven, but that hasn’t stopped the fandom at all.
The subreddit, the main place for drama in niche internet communities, is shockingly mostly drama-free, thanks to being locked-down; no new posts allowed. So you can only vent your frustrations by commenting on months-old posts nobody will see.
The Youtube comments are mostly same-as-usual. Even on the guy’s newest video, they’re just sort of ignoring it. Here’s the top comments…
All posted in the last 3 days, since the video released. The final comment on that screenshot is a dig on the plagiarism, but it’s a super indirect inside joke that’ll pass most people over.
Sort by new…
And it’s the same deal, mostly.
Looks like barely anyone knows about the plagiarism accusations. Or not really accusations, it’s patently true.
That’s right, he’s just releasing new videos on the regular like nothing’s changed. The Internet Historian didn’t apologize, didn’t own up to anything, and is just desperately hoping it’ll blow over.
If you dig further into the comments, though…
(I have to actually censor the usernames here because the comments start getting braindead insane really quickly.)
You’ll see the classic post-scandal tactics that see almost constant use these days.
The main tactics, the same tactics people use to celebrities who got #MeToo’d, the same tactics that far-right MAGA lunatics use to defend the soon-to-be-convicted former president… They’re perfectly on display here. Minimize, dismiss, attack.
Dismiss AND Attack:
Just absolute insanity. People want so desperately to feel like they belong to some Youtuber’s community, like it’s a political party or a religion or something. They have a parasocial adoration for a Youtuber and are clinging to any small thing, even if the thing is fake, that will grant them permission to be fine and just keep watching.
It’s the same shit that happened with Jontron. He was a vicious racist, he doubled-down, and he was basically rewarded for it.
Plagiarism isn’t as bad as being a vicious racist, especially if you apologize from it, learn from it. The offense can be temporary if you fix the wrongs you made. It’s not a personality trait; it’s a misdeed you are allowed to correct.
But the Internet Historian didn’t apologize, didn’t learn, didn’t fix any wrongs or correct any misdeeds. He lied about it, reuploaded the video with very minor changes, and is currently ignoring the problem entirely. Fans don’t want to think the creator they like is bad, so they will vigorously defend him without watching the video, without taking in its larger points about the ways lazy content farming and artistic theft go entirely unpunished because the systems aren’t there to do anything about it.
There’s a bigger trend here about tribalism and polarization, with how so many of these online commenters have already dug-in and turned it into an Us vs. Them, Conservative vs. Liberal type thing. It always becomes about politics online, which is ridiculous because this has nothing at all to do with politics. It’s that the Internet Historian didn’t apologize for stealing someone else’s work, much less paid that person a single dime.
Why that’s okay with anyone is absolutely beyond me.
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