If you have been following this blog for a while, you will know I always strive to be unbiased and present the facts of each side (except for my op-eds, those are almost always biased and come from the heart). However, with this particular incident, I am finding it difficult to do so. As many of you know, I personally know Gabi DeMartino. I have directed her earlier music videos, and she walked in my first show for NYFW. Personally, I find Gabi to be a compassionate role model to her fans who is always going out of her way to be there for them and to help them in any way she can. Gabi is a very giving person, and is always there for a friend in need. So if I seem to be in defense of Gabi, I’m sorry. Its hard to see someone you respect and hold in high regard being bashed online everywhere you look.
However, do I feel that Gabi’s actions were wrong? Yes. Does she understand this? Yes. Did she apologize? Also, yes. So then why are people still attacking Gabi? She did all of the right things. She wore all white, no makeup, and was remorseful in her apology video. She didn’t draw out her apology, and seemed to be visibly upset. So then why is the internet still after her?
Before answering this question, let me give you some background. A few weeks ago, Gabi DeMartino posted to her only fans account a photo that was captioned “won’t put my panties on” with a winky emoji. In this photo, Gabi is an adult. Should you click on this photo from the private message, you would pay three dollars in order to access the video behind the pay wall. When users clicked on the video in question, it showed a three year old Gabi declaring that she will not put her panties on and flashing the camera as her Mom and Dad try to get her to put them on stating that she will catch a cold if she doesn’t. *However, the action of sharing this type of video to her OnlyFans account had users and fans alike draw illusions to this video being of pornographic nature.
How? Why? Well, because this family video was shared to OnlyFans, users argue that it attaches the video with a sexual context, thus making this video CP or child porn. Which, in the eyes of the law and society, has harmful and serious implications. Many feel that the actions Gabi took should be punishable by either the state or federal government and be prosecuted. However, should this be prosecuted under the penalty of law? According to YouTuber and prosecutor, Emily D. Baker, on the matter at hand she stated, “the first thing you would think about is the making. And in the making, it is clear that this was a home video. It was not made for purposes of titillation. …It was sold suggestively, but it wasn’t filmed suggestively. So than you gotta go to the question of distribution. Is the distribution enough?”
Ms. Baker goes on to say that she conferred with a colleague who is a prosecutor in the State of California, and stated that she didn’t know if she could prosecute this because the video was not in a sexual context. It is sold in that way, but the image is not. So in California, it would be very difficult to prosecute such an action. Now, in this video, Emily juxtaposes this with the Gabi video with the movie Cuties, and states that the way the eleven year old actresses dances in the video, that since it is in a sexual nature, that could be seen as CP and could potentially be prosecutable because the images in the movie are very sexualized. However, a movie made in France to be prosecuted in the USA, would be very difficult… and is quite the tangent from the purpose of this article.
The argument to be made is that the Gabi OnlyFans video seems to normalize sexualizing young women and everyday actions. However, is this a moral issue or a legal issue? In my opinion, this is moreso a lapse of character and judgement and is moreso a moral issue. In my opinion, when you go through beat by beat of the production of the video, the distribution of the video, and the intention of the video, none of it aligns with what the state and federal law would deem as CP. The production of the video is not sexual in any which way, but is a family video of a kid being a kid. The distribution was not for the purpose of arousal, but for trolling and an innocent “haha”. The intention of the video again, was not for sexual gratification, but with the intention of making money while pulling a fast one on users who may have misinterpreted Gabi’s original intention of having an OnlyFans account. Which was to share content that was demonetized on her YouTube channel to her OnlyFans for her fans to still be able to view the content.
In short, the content is not explicitly sexual in nature, thus, after examining all of the pieces here, the OnlyFans video is not one that can be labeled as CP and prosecuted under state or federal law. Does this make what happened right? No. Should OnlyFans have banned Gabi for violating their terms of service? Yes. Was this morally wrong? Yes.
So then after all of this, and coming to these conclusions, why are people still attacking Gabi and “canceling” her? To answer this question, we need to examine what cancel culture is. According to Dictionary.com, Cancel culture refers to the popular practice of withdrawing support for (canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive. Cancel culture is generally discussed as being performed on social media in the form of group shaming.
“Canceling” someone is essentially people on the internet pointing a finger at an online Influencer or personality and saying “you did a bad thing.” However, it doesn’t necessarily stop there. It can often snowball and forget the initial intention of eliciting an apology or statement. It seeks blood and atonement for the actions. And can often draw in followers who are already not fans of the person they are following (often referred to as a hate follow) to become loud beacons in the campaign against the cancelling individual. Which is why cancel culture is so toxic. Accountability culture on the other hand aims to hold the person accountable by ensuring they admit their actions are wrong and calling them out again should they make the same mistake again.
I hope that when Gabi is able to continue to move past this and be able to move on and heal with her fans. She has created a community of fans who share a passion for all things fancy and has helped them to be themselves unapologetically. She has taught them how to deal with heavy life situations and that being who you are is a good thing. And that the people who matter, won’t care. But the people who care, don’t matter and shouldn’t effect your mental health.
Gabi also shows her fans that Influencers are just like you and I and make mistakes. And when we make them, we apologize, and we transcend them. Which I know Gabi will be able to do, because she has gone through worse seasons than this one. And in each and every one of these cases, Gabi has come out stronger. I wish her and her fanbase the best. Hopefully 2021 will be kind to everyone.
*In a previous version of this article, we reported that in the video of Gabi as a child that her lady bits are covered by a smiley face. We were informed by Instagram user, Kilnpceig that this was inaccurate. This user cited Twitter user Hannah aka Lipagrndes who has a transcript of the video up on her Twitter account. We thank Kilnpceig for updating us and setting the record straight.