Samuel Wiener, CallMeCarson, and Why Every Famous White Guy is a Pedophile
(CW: Pedophilia, sexual assault, grooming, and discussions of white men.)
Tell me if this story seems to ring a bell: a dumpy white guy with above average comedic timing quickly explodes in popularity among a younger audience. Seemingly overnight, the guy goes from unknown to a staple of his respective platform. All along, he receives incredible praise for his content from his overwhelmingly-young fans. A few months later, his Discord direct messages (DM’s) get leaked and it turns out he was messaging minors in pursuit of nude pictures or other sexual favors. Almost overnight, his career falls. His former fans make videos expressing shock and dismay, hashtags trend, and eventually he leaves to (hopefully) never be heard from again.
There’s something cathartic about watching this process play out from an outsider’s perspective. This familiar turn of events is almost melodramatic. This is the plot of a Greek tragedy. More importantly, this is a cycle that keeps happening. It seems every month, there’s another DM leak. Another boy to be cast out of society. We are punishing those who are responsible, but we — and by “we” I mean “internet creators and consumers” — are not learning from the situation.
At the time of writing this, the drama that inspired me is on the back-burner. Samuel Wiener, a popular Tik Tok star, is the latest of the guys who have been cast out of their high status. Wiener, who was popular among progressive and socialist Tik Tok, was allegedly caught (among other things) having flirted with a person he knew was 15 at the time. Wiener also allegedly used his platform to express sexual intent with other creators, many of which he did not know or had recently followed. There are more allegations, however those are the most prominent ones. Wiener’s cancelation was a lot messier than usual. Quickly after his alleged DM’s were leaked, he posted videos seemingly confirming his behavior and quickly privated his account. People who had previously followed him reported he began deleting his old content. His former content creator friends began talking about him and condemning his behavior and the Tik Tok account “samwienerarchive” sprung up. Currently, the account has over 13.7 thousand likes and its sole purpose is to collect and catalog the old, creepy content or DM’s Wiener had sent in order to prevent Wiener from completely deleting any content from the internet.
Wiener has joined the group of canceled white guys. It was not even a month ago when Twitch streamer CallMeCarson had similar allegations and leaks against him. This is not, as one might suggest, a string of isolated incedents. There have been too many men and too many victims in too short a time for this to be anything other than systemic. Why is every famous dumpy white guy a pedophile? Speaking as a dumpy white guy who is not a pedophile, I think I may have an answer.
Back in early 2020, there was a large dump of sexual assault and harassment allegations against multiple competitive Super Smash Bros players. Over fifty victims came forward to share their experiences. It was a huge deal among esports players, especially in the competitive Super Smash Bros community.
Over 50 Sexual Misconduct Allegations Have The Super Smash Bros. Community In Turmoil
The competitive community for Nintendo's popular Super Smash Bros. series has recently been rocked by an overwhelming…
I bring it up here because almost all of these cases shared some similarities that I believe are worth noting. Speaking from personal experience, dumpy white men don’t get complimented a lot. When you’re born into the systemic privilege of societal “default”, it’s easy to see why. There have been times in my life where I’ve changed entire sections of my wardrobe or hairstyle because of one compliment from one friend. Back in 2020, I listened to the explanations the many famous Super Smash Bros players attempt to explain their behavior. It was scary, but I felt a small amount of empathy for their experience.
As many described, when you become famous, especially for your talent at a specific task, you tend to develop a overly-compassionate fanbase. The compliments and compassion you feel from people on the internet is intoxicating to many. I have a small Tik Tok account with less than nine hundred followers and, even with that small amount, I’ve found myself becoming unhealthily attached to the compliments I can get from followers. When these guys get thousands or tens of thousands of followers, I can see why they would develop terrible relationships with their fanbase in general. Below I’ve linked a paper by Jamie Rees-Miller published in the Journal of Pragmatics. Miller’s paper details the gendered expectations and similarities behind compliments paid towards different gender groups. Important to us is Miller’s reflection on masculine compliments being centered around performance or ability surrounding a task. In simple terms, men are usually complimented for their ability to do a task, not for their appearance or attracitveness. This problem gets worse when the first adjective one would use to describe you is “dumpy”.
Compliments revisited: Contemporary compliments and gender
Janie Rees-Miller is professor of language and linguistics and director of ESL at Marietta College in Marietta, OH…
The nature of most social media today is, to quote GarfieldEats founder Nathen Mazri, “entergagement”. That is, a platform that simultaneously entertains and engages its user. Fan interaction is encouraged by platforms wanting to push out new content. Common community features like Discord servers put creators in a weird spot. They are one click away from chatting with hundreds of their most-dedicated fans. Discord allows direct private messaging between creator and audience. Is it a wonder that a large amount of the pedophilia allegations are leaked through Discord direct messages?
Listening to the Super Smash Bros creators, many cited a complimentary fanbase and easy access to direct messaging in their attempt to deflect blame. I must make it clear, this is not an excuse and I do not wish to downplay or diminish a creator’s role in hurting their fanbase. I illustrate this because it is important to understand why terrible people do terrible things in order to prevent future occurrences of this behavior.
By the nature of their position as famous dumpy white guys and the design of social media, they go from people who have probably never had a girlfriend before to having thousands of fans complimenting and messaging them. New types of compliments, too. Many compliments focus on their appearance or personality, rather than the standard masculine compliment. Parasocial relationships develop among many young fanbases and this can lead to sexualization and “internet crushes”. I will link here to a 2017 dissertation by Sarah E. Erickson proposing the quantifiable and measurable existence of what they call “Adolescent Romantic Parasocial Attachments”.
Erickson talks at length about the potential good and potential bad of these types of relationships. If explored safely, they can help children form better understandings of their own needs and wants in partners. However, if this parasocial relationship were to move to private direct messaging with the content creator, it can quickly turn unsafe. There is an inherent power imbalance between creator and fan, especially because many fanbases tend to be young and impressionable. When your favorite creator is one click away, it can be easy to message them with compliments and praise. I imagine, by now, you see the problem.
In the case of Samuel Wiener, tik tok makes mutuals (accounts who directly follow one another) message back and forth. I do mean “makes”. Tik Tok automatically sets up a direct message between you and every one of your mutuals. These messages are private and, to my knowledge, unable to be turned off. Wiener also allegedly messaged many people over Instagram, which Tik Tok allows you to link in your profile.
Creators have easy access to their young, complimentary fans. Is it a wonder, then, that this can lead to sexual interactions between creators and underage fans? It is too easy for this to happen. It is too easy for creators to interact directly with fans in a private setting. I would not allow a minor to be left alone in a room with her internet crush. Direct messaging should be considered the same.
What can we do about this, though?
This is a complicated question. There are three parts to our response that I think is necessary. All, unfortunately, rely on a level of self-regulation.
First of all, we need to encourage greater distance between content creator and fans, especially if those fans trend towards being underage. This does not mean anything intense. We don’t need to private everyone’s account and prevent minors from talking to their favorite content creators. However, a level of transparency should be expected and encouraged. Interactions between fans and creators should happen in public and where they can be tracked. This should also apply to direct messages. Creators should be hesitant to directly message their fans. DM’s should, idealy, remain closed. Tik Tok’s mutuals system is good. However, it is not perfect and still has room for some exploitation. Fans should also be educated about parasocial relationships and the dangers of messaging their favorite creators. While it is never the fault of the victims in these situations, education of young fans about the new forms of sexualizing minors is key. My parents do not know what internet grooming is. They do not know what Omegle or Kik is. I was well-taught to not get into a van with a stranger I was taught to identify if an adult sexually assaulted me and to report it to my family. As sexual grooming turns online, parents need to educate their children on the dangers of internet pedophiles and their tactics. This will help lessen the ability of creeps to prey on children.
Secondly, we need to start designing social media to discourage direct messaging in the first place. Tik Tok also needs to make it possible and easy to turn off all messaging capabilities for an account. Mutuals should not be required to have a messaging box. Discord is much worse in its design. I have, with my current discord account, the ability to message any person who I share a discord server with. Any person who shares an interest or community with me is available to me. There is also no regulation on what I can send them, including allowing me to send images to anyone I choose. I use discord very little and I am only a part of six servers. Even still, from those six servers, I am able to message over nine thousand accounts with no restrictions. I cannot stress to you how bad of a system this is. Platforms need systems to help lessen the interaction between fans and creators in private messages. Banning all private messaging is not a good solution. Differentiating between creator and fan is also something that could be hard to do. Unfortunately, this also means a level of self-regulation, but social stigmatization can also help here.
Lastly, I believe white men need a better hobby than grooming minors online. The stigmatization of complimenting your friends in male circles is gross and stupid. It is what leads men to seek compliments from underage fans. Also, pedophilia should be more stigmatized among men. The CallMeCarson leaks gave me a small amount of hope because those who surrounded CallMeCarson, once they found out, almost immediately cut ties and actively and publicly denounced his actions. They brought attention to the people he had allegedly hurt and platformed their stories. This is a big step in the right direction. Male circles have, for too long, ignored or even incentivized pursuit of minors. It is time that men do better. That’s not a vacant statement, but a direct call to action. If you see your friend being weird with minors or a content creator talking about his fans in a sexualizing way, respond. I cannot tell you how powerful the statement “dude, that’s not okay” can be in male circles. If your friend is a pedophile, find better friends. That’s as simple and as clear cut as it needs to be. We need to socially discourage and isolate people who engage in this behavior. It is not the sole responsibility of women to not get groomed. It is the responsibility of men to socially disincentivize this behavior with consequences.
The era of direct access to fans needs to come to an end or else we will see thousands more CallMeCarson and Samuel Weiner situations. It is time to start designing social media with compassion and safety in mind. If not, we will only see the pattern of internet grooming continue to grow.