After a series of high profile parties in some of the wealthiest parts of Los Angeles hosted by a number of popular TikTok and YouTube creators, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti made the executive decision to shut off power at one offender’s private residence last week.
“Today I authorized the City to disconnect utility service at a house in the Hollywood Hills to stop the large parties held there in flagrant violation of our public health orders,” Garcetti tweeted on August 19th. “Parties like these can quickly and easily spread the virus and put our communities at risk.”
The house in question is where TikTok creators Noah Beck, Blake Gray, and Bryce Hall live. Hall is one of the most popular creators on TikTok with more than 13 million followers, and he’s become the subject of controversy over the last few weeks for hosting raucous parties. One of the more notorious events happened at a house Hall and his friends rented in Encino to host a 21st birthday party, according to the New York Times. Although that specific party wasn’t thrown at the private residence Hall shares with Beck and Gray, Hall has thrown others at his house.
Videos posted online have shown young TikTok and YouTube creators gathering at LA parties over the course of the summer to drink White Claws, film videos, and generally act like rowdy twentysomethings. Neighbors have complained about the number of parties happening at Hall’s in particular, calling it a “party war zone.” It would have been a huge nuisance in a normal year, but mid-pandemic, the events pose even more of a hazard. Coronavirus cases in Los Angeles continue to climb, and the government has asked people not host large gatherings for safety.
Orders from the government haven’t stopped a number of creators and their friends (and their friends’ friends, and their friends’ friends’ friends) from getting together. A party in July at the “Hype House,” where a bunch of TikTok creators live, saw between 60 and 70 guests invited, but hundreds more loitering outside, according to the Times. Jake Paul held a party as his Calabasas residence in July that led to Calabasas Mayor Alicia Weintraub publicly decrying the get together, telling the Los Angeles Times that “it’s completely unacceptable to be interacting with people like that during this time.” Some creators have apologized for attending parties; others have not.
Close to six million cases of COVID-19 have occurred in the United States, with around 178,000 people left dead. The respiratory virus spreads through close contact between people, which is why governments around the country have asked people to stay home and socially distance as much as possible. The disease is also rapidly spreading among young people, many of whom may carry it asymptomatically and therefore unknowingly. Having massive parties, where no one is wearing masks and people are in close contact, is something the Center for Disease Control strongly recommends not doing.
There are already rules in place to prevent parties. In March, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order banning large gatherings. California has recorded more than 654,000 COVID-19 cases at the time of this writing, with more than 11,000 deaths. The state has also instituted a series of measures, including keeping movie theaters closed and prohibiting indoor eating, to try and stop the spread of cases.
“The consequences of these large parties ripple throughout our entire community because the virus can quickly and easily spread,” a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Department of Public Health told The Verge. “We must all do our part to slow the spread of this virus so that we may continue on our recovery journey.”
Despite orders from the government and the mayor’s recent actions on Hall’s personal residence (which Hall responded to by posting a TikTok with the song “Electric Love”), influencers are still looking to party. So, like countless other incidents in the past that have centered on the internet’s most popular personalities, it’s the community stepping in to self-police and hold their own accountable.
Some of YouTube’s most recognizable creators, including Ethan and Hila Klein, Philip DeFranco, and Elijah Daniel, have called out the fact that they’re having “huge parties where they don’t seem to give a fuck,” as Tyler Oakley said in a video. TikTok doesn’t have the same type of commentary culture as other platforms, so it’s YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram where the name and shame game continues to thrive. YouTube in particular has become a central place in recent years for creators to highlight the bad behavior of others in their community.
“There always has been the creators who are willing to speak out against creators doing bad things,” Davonna Finley, who runs a YouTube channel called The Sovereign, told The Verge. “The creators getting away with this are the biggest. They’re dragons; but there aren’t too many dragon slayers. There’s nobody of their size willing to say something about what they’re doing.”
Finley, who lived in Los Angeles until recently, said she was disturbed by what she was seeing from a class of immensely popular personalities. She felt like she needed to speak up and hold them accountable for their actions, even if it didn’t award her any points from fans of massive YouTube and TikTok stars.
While TikTokers are a newer group, the name and shame style of self policing is something that YouTubers have long used to police their own community. Massively popular creators like Logan Paul, Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg, Shane Dawson, Trisha Paytas, and Jeffree Star have faced self-policing from popular commentary channels and other creators within their circles.
“People speaking out against mega influencers years ago was a no-no thing to do,” Finley said. “That’s changing. The thing to do is finally take these people to task and let them know we’re displeased. When Tyler Oakley spoke out against the parties it was amazing, but Tyler doesn’t have the stamina to be the only one doing it.”
The responsibility of holding influencers accountable for their activities has fallen in part to creators like Dennis Feitosa. Feitosa spends hours collecting footage from parties and stringing it together on Twitter to tell the best story he can about what’s happening, comparing his experience to a “Rashomon-style” movie where a story is recounted from several different points of view.
“That’s how I see it,” Feitosa said. “Whenever I put together these party posts, and sometimes there are dozens of videos, it’s like telling a Rashomon story. Because there’s still parties going on, they’re just being smarter. I’ll go to people’s Stories, and I’ll find one post but it’s a really tight shot of someone, but you can hear that they’re at a party.
“It’s just getting harder and harder to get details, but they’re still going out.”