If 2020 could be summed up by one word it would be “cancelled.” Due to coronavirus, everything from concerts to sporting events has literally been cancelled. But figuratively, there’s been impactful cancellations and calls for them, too. In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement’s fight to end systemic racism following George Floyd’s death, there’s been a long due reckoning and what was once OK, just isn’t anymore. We might be living in a post #Mettoo world and some bad people are finally paying for their crimes, but Donald Trump’s (and his pals’) treachery continues to go unpunished. It’s a rough pill for many to swallow and it’s no wonder a true cultural shift has occurred that’s making us all more aware and less tolerant of discrimination, appropriation, objectification, harassment, hurtful statements and actions, and general shadiness. The statues are slowly coming down in more ways than one.
And however one may feel about “cancel culture” or the “Karen” problem, one thing is for sure- dialog and examination about how we communicate and treat others is always a good thing, and when it comes to marginalized or disenfranchised groups, it’s an important thing.
But keeping up with who should be on our collective shit lists takes work. One week it’s JK Rowling (for transphobic rhetoric) then its Nick Cannon (for anti-semitic statements), then it’s Harper’s mag (and everyone who signed that letter), then it’s Kanye (for slagging on Harriet Tubman), now it’s not Kanye (because he has mental health issues and we need to give him a pass), and it’s Burger Records (whose hipster favor just went the way of FYF fest- read the report here). We don’t know who’s next, but we do know that in L.A. there’s a lot of people who’ve done and said terrible things, and a couple of really significant ones that we haven’t seen reported about anywhere yet. If you’re into alternative culture, beauty, fashion or nightlife, here’s what you need to know.
Cloak & Dagger
The local goth scene, fittingly, saw a lot of drama and darkness recently as the Hollywood hotspot Cloak & Dagger and its promoters came under fire amid allegations of sexual harassment and discriminatory treatment against people of color who attend their events. It all started when C&D hosted a #BLM themed Zoom gathering. As some black patrons began to speak about what they felt was problematic treatment at the club, another more vocal group of young white women took over the dialog to share other alleged traumas related to sexual harassment and intimidation by the club’s hosts Adam Bravin and Michael Patterson. Bravin posted the message below on the club’s Instagram page (to his credit, it has not been deleted so the 333 comments below help fill in the blanks) and its private Facebook group, while Patterson hosted a live Instagram question & answer session following the controversy (since deleted). During the Q&A, Patterson said that the popular nightclub -which already had its haters due to its “black card members only” admittance policy- is essentially dead over this, regardless of Covid-19’s forced club closures. But it remains to be seen if the tight-knit community that was forged on FB via the club -which by the way touted itself as a “safe space”- will continue and maybe even re-animate when quarantine is over. Either way we know the goth scene will never die, though C&D always said it wasn’t a goth club.
Girls Night Out & GRL CVLT
In general if you’re part of the private Facebook group known as Girls Night Out, it’s sort of like Fight Club- the first rule is not to talk about it. But at 28, 500+ members it’s not exactly a secret. These online groups can be a great source of support and love but also judgement and bickering- just like Facebook itself- especially when varying opinions are expressed. As the BLM protests started to get in full swing the contention that swelled within the social space was no exception. It reached a boiling point when the group’s lack of moderators of color became glaringly obvious, leading to some changes in the group structure as well as an exodus and creation of more inclusive groups for some. Amidst all this, the GNO’s most vocal leader Annaliese Nielson was served an epic cancellation from not only the group that she controlled, but the web all together, after it was revealed that her efforts to support BLM had a monetary component; posts (since deleted) emerged of her asking for donations for stuff like “new protest sneakers.” Add to that, troubling allegations from ladies that came out of the woodwork concerning Nielson’s other endeavors (her anti-rape activist-turned-cannabis brand GRL CVLT and her earlier days running the Suicide Girls-esque website God’sGirls) and it was enough to see the formerly omni-present social media figure virtually disappear. The Grl Cvlt “fvckrapeculture” account embedded below (Nielson is seen, center) is still up though not active, and the internet will probably never forget “Hulagate,” when she charged cultural appropriation during a meltdown over a Lyft driver’s dashboard hula girl.
After the alternative fashion brand suffered some vandalism of its flagship L.A. store following the Fairfax protests, the founder of Dolls Kill fashion brand posted a seemingly pro-police post on her Instagram showing a photo of cops in riot gear outside her store, captioned “Direct Action in its glory.” The backlash was swift and it led to a couple of apology videos explaining she was misunderstood, followed by donations to Black and trans groups. But it wasn’t the first time the internet had called for a boycott of the brand. Previous controversies included featuring of tees and sweatshirts with the slogan “Goth Is White,” selling Native American headdresses as Halloween costumes and charges that the brand does not carry or feature enough models and designers of color. As of this posting, D.K. seems to be working on addressing and changing these issues, but the comments on their IG show some on social are not quick to forget.
You Tube Trio: Jeffree Star, Shane Dawson & James Charles
Need more tea than Facebook, Twitter and IG tend to provide? YouTube is where the serious soap opera level sagas go down. We can barely keep up with who’s on who’s side and who’s taking a break (we’ll miss Jenna Marbles, though) and who the public is favoring, because it changes by the day. Insider had the right idea, making an updated timeline to keep track of these three and their much-publicized disputes, which have led to losing endorsements and product collaborations for all. It’s too much of a mess to try and sort here, but beyond the rumors, gossip, and obvious jealous grudges between these three -all of whom live in L.A. by the way- allegations of racism and inappropriate behavior towards minors make this story more than mere makeup junkie jive. Star’s latest video explaining his side of the situation is below, but the internet seems to think this flamboyant influencer couldn’t be cancelled even if he tried to be. We’ll see.
UPDATE 7/27/2020: An earlier version of this piece mentioned a door person at Cloak & Dagger also saw allegations levied against them, but we have received multiple emails since this story published (some from people who worked there) that this was incorrect. While others were implicated within the multiple social media threads concerning problematic behavior at C&D, this did not involve the club’s door people. We apologize for the error.