Trisha Paytas gains popularity through negative attention

By KIAN CONCERT
On March 31, 2021

Photo courtesy of Jason Nash, Wikipedia

Racism, transphobia, ableism and more: Trisha Paytas has been called out for almost everything someone in the public eye can be called out for.

The infamous model-turned-YouTuber-turned-singer has been active for fifteen years now. She’s spent a decent chunk of that time building up a reputation for saying and doing outrageous things. However, none of it seems to have put a dent in her star.

As of March 2021, Paytas’ main YouTube channel sports a whopping 5 million subscribers. Her Twitter following is over 800,000, and her TikTok account is viewed by over 5 million people. She has danced in Eminem videos, starred on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and was a contestant on a reality show created by Stan Lee…all while striking up controversy after controversy.

Paytas has stepped on just about everyone’s toes: from wearing blackface and saying racially charged slurs to receiving criticism from the trans community for identifying as a “chicken nugget,” Paytas seems to have found a way to offend or speak over just about every community active online.  

While she has made plenty of moves that would destroy any other media personality, Paytas persists, seemingly invulnerable to calls for her deplatforming. Though her numbers waver from time to time, they seem to always stand strong.

What is it about this chaotic entertainer that keeps her standing strong despite her near-constant problematic behavior? How is it that her career survives backlash that so often leaves other creators ruined?

There’s no doubt that these questions boggle the mind, especially after this last year. Paytas has dedicated a great deal of her time to calling out other creators for the very same crimes that she herself is guilty of.

The public shaming of James Charles in 2019, helmed by Tati Westbrook, seems to have been what ignited Paytas’ determination to confront other creators on things she holds issue with. Since then, she’s raised concern surrounding the fame of the TikTok famous D’Amelio sisters to YouTube icon David Dobrik in recent weeks.

Though she certainly can’t be given sole credit for their “cancellations,” there’s no question of just how fiercely she and her fanbase have joined the fight in deplatforming creators that Paytas finds questionable. Comparing her steady stardom against the destruction of those she’s gone after is fascinating. Paytas should be expected to take responsibility, similar to other YouTubers called out for their inappropriate behavior.

The key to Paytas’ continued survival, it seems, is the outrage she incites. Paytas has stated before that she found inspiration in Andy Kaufman, a performance artist known for playing rude, obnoxious characters that left audiences confused and annoyed. The many faces Kaufman wore mirrors the many that Paytas wears in her own online escapades. 

While Kaufman created a professional wrestling persona, Paytas crafted a would-be superhero for Stan Lee’s “Who Wants to Be A Superhero?”  When Kaufman appeared on a variety show and fooled the audience into believing he had converted from Judaism to Christianity, Paytas crafted dramatic and rather tasteless songs about her devotion to Jesus.

Paytas' career never seems to be diminished or held accountable, unlike Dawson and Dobrik, who have lost all of the sponsorships they relied on. Instead, this attention fuels Paytas' career.

At the end of the day, Paytas’s success is entirely about negative attention—and she knows it.

 

kconcert@ramapo.edu

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