Chris Chan's arrest on an incest charge revitalized a genre of YouTube videos chronicling the 'Sonichu' creator's life
- Christine Weston Chandler, known as
Chris Chan, is one of the most documented people online.
- Her recent arrest on an incest charge has revitalized a huge
- Geno Samuel said he's pausing his popular series chronicling Chandler due to the incest allegation.
Trolls have spent years archiving thousands of her emails, calls, and diary entries on Wikis. The harassment campaign reached its peak between 2008 and 2011 when complicated storylines emerged where trolls would pretend to be romantic rivals and steal the fake girlfriends away, causing Chandler to post response videos on YouTube.
This massive wealth of information led to an entire YouTube subgenre of videos about Chandler and her life. Fredrik Knudsen, who has one million subscribers, posted a 20-minute "down the rabbit hole" video about Chandler in 2016 that pulled in over 4.4 million views.
There are thousands of videos about Chandler on YouTube, ranging from "iceberg" videos analyzing rumors to hourlong breakdowns of the "Sonichu" comic-book character that Chandler created and first became known for.
Chandler was charged with one count of incest on Sunday after a leaked audio recording alleged she had sex with her 79-year-old mother. In the days that followed, dozens of videos with hundreds of thousands of views popped up on YouTube while the
But new creators will undoubtedly have to wrestle with the moral dilemma of imbibing in the views they'll mine from Chandler's own misery and alleged misdeeds.
Geno Samuel, who made a 59-part documentary about Chandler on a YouTube channel where he has over 140,000 subscribers, told Insider that he won't be continuing the project out of concern that it would be "advantageous and distasteful."
"It was quite concerning how nonchalant she seemed to be as she was being arrested," Samuel said, adding that he was concerned about Chandler's apparent mental state in footage of her arrest that was streamed online.
YouTube is a breeding ground for Chris Chan content
Samuel's "Chris Chan: A Comprehensive History" is considered the most thorough YouTube series about Chandler, analyzing the creator's life from her early days struggling in school and through the trolls who accosted her online for years, though the series only spans Chandler's life through 2017.
"Because of the amount of content she produced and information that she divulged herself or was taken from her, she has a significant number of followers and observers who remain interested in every little public thing she does," Samuel told Insider.
Samuel said he thought it would be "beneficial" to create a video series with the information catalogued on the CWCki, a Wiki dedicated to Chandler that has over 2,000 pages of archived content. The site takes an aggressive tone against Chandler, often belittling and insulting her. Samuel said he wanted to create an "unbiased" look at the information saved.
Since starting the project two years ago, Samuel has brought in 30 million views and archived over 90 gigabytes of videos, images, and texts, he said.
His channel has gained over 9,000 subscribers in the past week since Chandler's incest allegations came to light, according to the social media analytics website SocialBlade.
Geno Samuel sought to document Chandler's online life in an 'objective' way
When creating this series, Samuel said he tried to avoid editorializing the story by posting just Chandler's words and verified information, unlike the "derogatory" way other creators have talked about Chandler, who has previously said that she is on the autism spectrum.
At the behest of trolls, she once shared a 2004 intake survey claiming she was "was diagnosed with autism around age five or six." In 2009, she created an "autism tutorial" using the "Little Big Planet" video game and called herself "a high-functioning autistic artist."
Samuel said that he has seen comments from viewers saying they expected to laugh, but "end up feeling upset and, in some cases, crying over her story."
Samuel says the story of Chandler is like "watching a drawn-out car crash you can't look away from," seeing her repeatedly trust internet trolls and fall for schemes meant to antagonize her.
The world of YouTube can't get enough of Chris Chan content
The most hardcore "christorians" - Chris Chan historians - often try to justify the schadenfreude of making fun of Chandler, especially in relation to her autism diagnosis, by referencing her past online controversies.
In the past, Chandler used an anti-gay slur, though she has since changed her stance and came out as trans in 2016. Trolling schemes Chandler fell for led to her posting videos where she sang in blackface.
Chandler critics also note that she has in the past asked for donations, including in 2016 asking for help affording her mother's medication, before being accused of spending money on toys and Lego products.
"The Chris Chan story up to now has decidedly been one without any clear heroes," Samuel said, adding that the incest allegations may tip the scales of public opinion out of Chandler's favor.
Chandler was denied bail and is next due in court in September. Her attorney was not available to comment on the case at press time.
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