Coming up For Air: How Tana, and Ultimately, Tanacon, Proved Too Good to Be True

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If you watch YouTube in the same fashion that old people watch the television set, you know that storytimer Tana Mongeau threw her own convention a couple of weeks ago and it failed miserably. The TDLR is that Vidcon—a huge YouTube fan convention—wouldn’t award her “featured creator” status at their event so she had to attend as your standard peasant. To be fair, Vidcon is problematic and used her likeness in promo for the Escape the Night series without accommodating her needs, but instead of taking legal action like a grown business woman, she decided to make her own “free” ($65) convention, Tanacon. While she said this event would be about fans meeting their favorite creators (unlike money-hungry Vidcon), it became an act of competitive spite as she held the event right down the street on the same weekend. The result? A complete cancellation half way through the first day after paying fans couldn’t get into the over-capacity venue, leaving them to get dehydrated and sunburned in a hotel parking lot.

In the wake of this worst-case scenario, countless videos—most notably including Shane Dawson’s docuseries—have come out analyzing what went wrong and what Tana should do to make it right. Even as the incident begins to grow stale, I still find myself tumbling down the clickhole night after night as I stay up trying to adult coloring book my neuroses away. Because clearly, I am no winner, perhaps I am an enamored by the prospect of someone else sucking even more than me. Nevertheless, as I come up for air from all of the drama and rhetoric being thrown around, I feel the need to share some of my own insights. Since many of the talking heads weighing in on the incident are White Boys™ like PewDiePie and choice members of the H3 Podcast, I feel like I can be tough on her “bimbo-to-bimbo” without regressing into “this bitch looks like an old worn-out mom”-type attacks.

You’re welcome.

I am going to guess that you clicked on this article because you, too, are obsessed with this whole scandal. But, if not, I will try my best to explain and link as many relevant backstories as I can without turning this into a novel. Because really, the tale is a bit meandering, but the takeaway is pretty simple. When you consider the timeline of her career, the reasons why Tanacon failed and no remedies are being made are neither confusing nor shocking. There is no grand Rich Kids of Instagram Illuminati deal-making conspiracy that needs to be uncovered.

Let’s start at the beginning. While YouTube figure heads are dismissing Tana as a blonde bimbo and saying she was just trash who got lucky, there is another story to be told. Being that I’m on the older end of her target demographic, I feel like I can elaborate on why my cohort fell in love with her back in 2015/2016. Well, the idea of her anyway.

Tana was the anti-beauty guru. She was honest about the fact that she ate Taco Bell and had casual sex and possessed a makeup collection caked in broken powder. There was no implicit pro-ana food diaries or Disney white-washing of certain topics that define real-world young womanhood. Instead of infantilizing herself to appeal to younger women, she was unapologetically herself to anyone who would listen. Instead of sitting down and taking slut-shaming and belittlement from creepy dudes and bullshit authority figures, she owned her sexuality and crassness in a way that felt empowering not only to herself, but to the next generation of women. Together, these factors lessened the degree of self-hatred you’d feel after watching, say, perfect figures like Bethany Mota. Instead of vicariously trying to live through someone else’s life, you could spend 15 minutes or so actually feeling okay about being you. Her channel very much felt like a place salvation, particularly after coming home from a long and challenging days of repressing your true self. So, to answer any questions of those who just found Tana through her controversies, all of those qualities collectively formed her initial appeal.

Well, like all good things, they came to an end. Us viewers too quickly jumped to the conclusion that Tana deserved to be the voice of the—albeit cis, white—female underdog. While people like Amy Schumer try to fill this role but fail miserably due to insufferable un-relatability, Tana failed simply because she lacked true integrity and character. Ultimately, she took this newfound platform for all it was worth and then ran into the ground.

From the get-go, one pang of doubt that shook me through my binge watching of her story times involved a shitty notion that she frequently espoused—one wrapped up in the idea that she was so wise for her age just because she attended house parties in high school. While I admire her goal of trying to deliver big sister advice, as her clout and income increased, her true colors began to show that she wasn’t so big after all. In fact, she was still only a teenager. Ironically, she used to successfully parody the idiot stoner poser from the suburbs (who was maddeningly popular when I was in high school from 2008-2012) until it became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Tana became the figure at whom she used to poke fun, but with a slightly higher budget. She went from giving fair warnings about sketchy situations involving teenage kids and drugs to creating them herself with newfound friends dragged from the corners of No Jumper and Disney’s lost-and-found pile. Lest we forget, this woman once bragged about crashing her friend’s G-Wagon while off however-many Xans. In relation to Tanacon, the whole idea of her thinking she’s a lot more grown than she really is (and acts) is at the heart of the issue. She thought she could throw her own convention out of pettiness in two months’ time and come out on top, giving little consideration to the legal ramifications that could possibly destroy her life. While she allegedly evaded felony charges in the past thanks to a good-natured cop, she might not get so lucky this time.

In any event, after her character, and subsequently, channel started to shift its footing, a scandal occurred that I still struggle to make sense of. While it’s easier to just watch the video in question, the TDLR in this case is that Tana once told YT figure iDubbbz—who seems to ride the line between internet gamer and parody of internet gamer—to kill himself in a now-deleted Tweet due to his use of the n-word. This prompted iDubbbz to make a joke to Tana involving the n-word at one of her meet-and-greets, leading Tana to kick him out of the event. Not realizing who the perpetrator was, she took to YouTube to release a video about how people’s lives were in danger and how we need to speak out against racism in order to keep others safe and free. Noble, of course…except the story she told wasn’t quite accurate, leaving us all confused and feeling like assholes.

What did become clear after time was that she was trying to initially capitalize on the unknowing-iDubbbz encounter solely to get more views and attention. As a now-cautious fan, I had initially given her video “The N Word” a like and was genuinely outraged that racially-based terrorism was going on at shows that are supposed to be places of acceptance. Then iDubbbz’s edpisode of Content Cop was released and I realized that not only did she misrepresent the situation, but it turned out that there was documentation she had said the n-word herself back in high school.

Being that these resurfaced video clips were out of the contexts in which I’ve previously heard the hard-r n-word as a white person, I didn’t know how to file it in my brain. She wasn’t a bubba, an elderly man, or some incel edgelord (not to say that any of those contexts are excuses). It’s hard to even really chalk up the flagrant recklessness to her young age. Even when my friends and I were the stupidest rAwR xD scene kids we knew not to say that word, nor did we have the desire to. Yet, despite her growing up in a major metropolitan area and taking history classes like the rest of us, she thought the n-word was a neat thing to say. Ultimately, it took public humiliation from iDubbbz and relentless harassment from his fanboys for her to even remotely admit her wrong-doing, and even then, the apology was a word salad mess. Again, someone who can’t own up to an error shouldn’t be, even in-part, orchestrating an event where there is so much room for exactly that.

While her subscriber count saw a slight dip after the iDubbbz incident, Tana went on. She shifted to putting out dumbass content with her friends who, for some reason, her viewers were supposed to care about. The rare upload that was more in the spirit of her OG persona didn’t quite look the same as it once did. The soap box had been knocked down a few pegs as her videos were met with the prerequisite of a giant grain of salt.

And so, the failure of Tanacon became the coup de grace. Shane Dawson, who was supposed to be a featured creator at Tanacon, believed that key players in the event (including Tana) had a secret story that needed to be told. His suspicion of grand chicanery coincided nicely with his general creation of conspiracy theory videos. Look, I like Shane, you like Shane, we all like Shane, but his investigation into what went wrong fell short. In a nutshell, a lot of talking goes on in his docuseries, but not a lot is said. Whether Shane did this series because he has a good heart or wanted views (or maybe a little of both) is unclear. It’s also irrelevant. Tana jumping at his offer to do the series was just a way for her to very cowardly hide behind the notion that the event company she had hired possessed some evil rich kid plot to con her fans for financial gain.

When I watched Tana’s roast of Vidcon, I wanted to say, “that’s fucked up that they did that to you,” but I felt those second-guess pangs again. Tana, maybe, just maybe, it’s not that you weren’t made a featured creator because you’re the one being persecuted. Maybe Vidcon did not want to formally endorse you as an individual not because you tell stories of drinking underage, but because you once screamed the n-word while the red light button was on. Oh, and even if the event company exploited the situation, you still created the situation in the first place by taking Vidcon to the streets instead of to court. These are hard pills to swallow but go get you a venti pink drink and get them down so everyone can move on with their lives.

Maybe this whole article reeks of unfounded moral superiority, but I really feel like the puzzle of Tanacon can be put together more clearly than what everyone thinks. Tana, we thought you were cool, but you turned out to be a tool, so you weren’t made a featured creator. You were a tool about that, too, and now you’re just up on the YouTubz crying. I dunno dude. Just grow up and handle your shit before you go to jail because the only conspiracy that can be proven here is a conspiracy to commit fraud.

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You can find Jenna on instagram.

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One response to “Coming up For Air: How Tana, and Ultimately, Tanacon, Proved Too Good to Be True

  1. Pingback: Experimental Post-Hardcore in 2018: The Case Studies of nothing,nowhere’s. “Rejecter” and Falling in Reverse’s “Losing My Life” | DRUNK IN A GRAVEYARD·

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