FouseyTube, a polarizing YouTuber known for his prank videos, is the latest creator to throw a fan-driven event with disastrous results. In the aftermath of TanaCon, the debacle once again has the creator community debating these types of fan-focused affairs.
Yousef Saleh Erakat, who records videos under the FouseyTube alias, hosted a free, last-minute concert on July 15 in the name of spreading love. In a podcast interview with controversial YouTuber Adam22, Erakat referred to Hate Dies, Love Arrives as the next Coachella, but noted that the event didn’t even have a venue five days before it was supposed to happen.
The entire concert was thrown together in seven days. Erakat promised fans that artists like Snoop Dogg and Drake would perform at the iconic Greek Theater venue in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park area. He was then forced to cancel the show following an alleged bomb threat, according to Deadline, in what police are now referring to as a potential swatting incident.
About 1,500 people were evacuated to a nearby lot, where Erakat stood on top of a car and spoke to his audience. He told them not to let what happened affect their night. In the days since, Erakat has addressed criticism about false advertising, and responded to growing concerns from fans who are worried that his mental health could be at risk. Erakat spoke about living with bipolar disorder in 2016.
On Tuesday, just before a documentary chronicling the event was set to go live on YouTube, Erakat announced he would take some time away from being online, leading concerned fans and curious people to try and figure out exactly what happened.
Erakat told Adam22 that he came up with the idea for Hate Dies, Love Arrives after a session at the gym playing basketball and listening to his favorite audio books. He walked out of the steam room, texted his mentor, actor Tyler Perry, and decided he would do everything in his power to make $100 million by January 2019. From there, Erakat said, little pebbles of ideas started springing up in his head — including Hate Dies, Love Arrives.
“Next thing you know, Ticketmaster and Live Nation take my event and said they can rent me the venue,” Erakat told Adam22. “My accountant’s telling me, ‘Don’t invest your own money in this, are you crazy, just give it more time,' [but] I said, ‘I don’t care if I lose every single dollar, I believe in this.’ I invested all my money, got the venue, all of a sudden, I’m on FaceTime with different hip-hop artists inviting them out.”
Erakat broadcast that he was selling shirts for the event before tickets even went on sale — five days before the concert was supposed to take place. He described the event as a “Royal Rumble Coachella experience,” promising a line of hip hop artists that promised an A-list event.
There were no artists guaranteed at the time and no formal description of what the event would entail.
Based on the conversation between Erakat and Adam22, the loose idea was to bring attention to a number of social issues, including police brutality and discrimination in America, but the specifics remain difficult to parse through, even after being laid out in the conversation.
Erakat also wanted to throw an event like Hate Dies, Love Arrives as a way to get out of the day-to-day YouTube grind, focusing on bigger, real-life shows that fans can congregate at. Erakat said that after a brutal year on YouTube — fights with popular creators like Keemstar and RiceGum, and trying to maintain his YouTube career while dealing with addiction and mental health issues — he wanted to explore other avenues.
“When I was chasing the numbers, chasing the fame, I did some shit that literally sold my dignity for views and money,” Erakat told Adam22. “That’s YouTube. You start putting on an act. You become a slave to the numbers. You start doing shit that you wouldn’t do in your actual life.”
Erakat’s appearance on Adam22 is just one part of the story leading up to the event.
A scroll through the YouTuber’s Twitter feed finds a person in frantic planning mode, with Erakat talking about meeting different artists and aggressively asking other major YouTube creators and celebrity personalities like Ellen DeGeneres and LeBron James to make an appearance. This erratic behavior was also pointed out by worried fans, who reached out to Erakat to express their concern.
Erakat didn’t stop. He engaged with critics who doubted he could pull the concert off on the tight timeline. He promised that Hate Dies, Love Arrives wouldn’t be another TanaCon — a reference to the catastrophic fan-event held by creator Tana Mongeau in Anaheim last month.
time to show the world how things are done. my greater power and purpose has been awoken. time to rise up and take EVERYONE with me. wait till you see my speech to every YouTuber on stage. ❤️ https://t.co/6uertabLcg— Yousef Saleh Erakat (@fousey) July 14, 2018
Between hyping up the event on YouTube and Twitter, and the actual concert itself, Erakat promised the dawn of a new era for YouTuber-backed events.
Days later, Hate Dies, Love Arrives turned into another disaster, and a focal point for controversy.
The YouTube prankster who got pranked
Erakat’s concert was a typical YouTube event: It attracted other YouTubers and creators more than anyone else.
Keemstar, FaZe Banks, FaZe Rug’s and a number of controversial lifestreamers like Ice_Poseidon all showed up to Hate Dies, Love Arrives with the intention of making videos about whatever happened. The hype was real: before anyone took to the HDLA stage, 50,000 people were watching a livestream of the event. There were reportedly 1,500 people in the audience.
The people on site were evacuated after police received a call about a suspicious package at the venue.
Erakat tried to keep momentum going by standing on a car to address the crowd. He preached about loving his community and his belief in the event’s success, and took a few minutes to call out DramaAlert and gossip vlogger Daniel “Keemstar” Keem, who was filming a documentary about the event.
Eventually people disbanded, but the situation only intensified as allegations were made that Erakat only threw the event to hype a diss track aimed at RiceGum he dropped the next day.
“I think that you started off wanting to get popular with this diss track,” Keem said in the video below. “Then I think you figured out the best way to promote this is by selling love and peace — because who doesn’t want love and peace — and then you just added ‘let’s end racism,’ because everyone wants to end racism. So if you can put out all these different reasons for people to show up to the event, then you can promote the song.”
He argued that the different angles made the concert seem less authentic. As Keem pointed out, Erakat has a history of controversies, which include creating fake pranks.
“This was just the beginning,” Erakat said. “I started a new chapter of my life. I chose a new direction for my life.”
Fans expressed their concerns about Erakat following his show. They’ve tweeted at him to seek professional help for behavior they see as adjacent to his reported bipolar disorder. He took time away from the internet to hang out with his dad, who Erakat said flew in to Los Angeles out of concern for his son’s health. On a new podcast episode, Erakat told Adam22 and creator Shane Dawson that it hurts to have people call his attempt at putting a show together a side effect of his mental illness.
“What people call crazy is literally me just trying to show a true sense of authenticity,” Erakat said.
YouTube creators speaking out about the event aren’t addressing Erakat’s possible mental health issues in-depth just yet, although commentator Phil DeFranco urged Erakat’s friends and fans to reach out, as they’ve done, and implore that he take some time for himself, potentially even seeking out professional help.
“Please someone in his family or inner circle of friends, do something,” DeFranco said in the video below. “Have a real conversation with this guy, because it very much seems like different day, same story. Following the up of this, you’re going to have a major crash ... Main point, someone’s gotta do something — and that includes his audience. Some of you are diehards; you’re for him no matter what. Anyone who has an audience has those people, and having someone in your corner is fantastic. If you really care for this guy, you should tell him you think he needs time for himself, that maybe he needs to check himself into some place.
“Because in my opinion, your blind support of this person that maybe you feel a great connection with, that is just fuel in his fuel tank in whatever vehicle he is taking over a cliff.”
“Stop having YouTuber events!”
Everyone from Keem and Dawson to DeFranco and Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg have chimed in on Hate Dies, Love Arrives. Most creators provide the same analytical take: YouTubers should stop staging events.
“Why do you keep having events,” PewDiePie said in a recent video. “Stop having YouTuber events. Stop. Just stop. Why did he come up with this idea? TanaCon did an event in 30 days and it was a complete disaster; I’m going to do an event in seven days. I can prove that I can make a bigger disaster. You think you’re worse than me, Tana? No, I’m worse.”
Shane Dawson offered similar sentiments, telling Erakat that he couldn’t understand why any creator would want to host their own event after TanaCon.
The takeaway is similar to what creator and former VidCon CEO Hank Green said after TanaCon. The more YouTubers try to rush out these types of huge sessions with fans, the more likely it is that problems are going to arise.
“Running events is hard,” Green said. “Making them safe and fun is hard.”
As Kjellberg said in his video, YouTuber events scan as an attempt to remain relevant among a sea of new creators. Tana Mongeau created TanaCon to meet fans and retaliate against VidCon; it didn’t work. Erakat wanted to throw an event for a medley of reasons; it didn’t work.
“Once you get that high of getting subscribers, getting money, everyone loves you, it comes to a point for everyone where it just starts coming down,” Kjellberg said. “Some people just can’t accept that, and it drives some people crazy.”
But, Kjellberg said, we can’t stop ourselves from watching these events unfold. Even when all signs point to an underlying issue, like Erakat potentially going through a manic period, people are glued to updates.
Disastrous YouTuber events have led to over-the-top, but admittedly entertaining documentaries and docu-series. People obsess over new details, uncover clues and follow stories as they unfold. That’s why YouTube commentators like Kjellberg talk about these moments, and why some go to even greater lengths.
Since the event, Keem has been actively working on a documentary. The short expose, which arrived on Tuesday night, includes some behind-the-scenes interviews with other YouTubers also looking into Erakat’s event. Keem instantly came under fire from Erakat’s fans for creating and publishing the documentary, possibly profiting off Erakat’s mental state just for content. Keem addressed the accusations in a Twitter video:
“I told Fousey I was making a documentary about this event three days ago,” Keem said. “And he was happy, he was excited. The whole point of doing a documentary is to capture reality. If FouseyTube’s event was a giant success, then the documentary would capture that — ‘FouseyTube’s back’. But if FouseyTube was lying and manipulating, and his event was just a complete fail, then the documentary is going to show that. Regardless, that’s the whole point of news, the whole point of a documentary.”
As creators grapple with their inability to eventize fame, and others analyze and criticize for their own gain, the overriding message becomes clear: creator events are here to stay. Even when they’re complete disasters, they’re entertaining enough to work in the long run for everyone involved. The management and production companies get more exposure, other creators publish their own vlogs on the situation, and the creators themselves get to stand in the limelight for a few days and bask in the increased attention. A event either pays off, and fans have a rekindled love for their favorite creators, or it’s a disaster and it’s all anyone can talk about for the next few days.
There’s no such thing as bad press or negative attention when it comes to YouTube fan events. All eyes will be on the next one — and there will be a next one.