Thirty-three year old YouTuber Jenna Marbles, real name Jenna Mourey, has announced she is leaving the platform, possibly "forever," after releasing a video apologizing for past controversial videos. As the Black Lives Matter movement inspired a racial reckoning across the United States, viewers of the creator began to point out some of her past problematic videos, including one in which they accuse Mourey of wearing blackface, and another in which she raps while disrespectfully imitating the Chinese language. In her video, Mourey both acknowledges and apologizes for the offensive instances, as well as other moments from her past she is ashamed of, and says she may not be returning to YouTube as a result of it.
Mourey has amassed over 20 million subscribers during her 10 year career on YouTube, which kicked off with her viral 2010 video "How to trick people into thinking you're good looking." It currently has over 69 million views.
"I feel like we are at a time when we are purging ourselves of anything and everything toxic," Mourey begins her apology video, titled "A Message." She explains that she set a number of her old videos to private because she does not want them to offend people, but is addressing them head on right now.
The first offending video was posted in 2011 in which Mourey is imitating Nicki Minaj in a pink wig. Many people accused the creator of wearing blackface in the impression, and while Mourey clarifies that she is not wearing any makeup or extra fake tan in the video, she still regrets the video and had put it on private some time ago.
"All that matters was that people were offended and it hurt them," she says of the video. "For that, I am so unbelievably sorry."
She continues chronologically, apologizing for a rap that was racist towards Asian people ("It's inexcusable. It's not okay."), a video she felt was slut-shaming ("I had a lot of internalized misogyny"), and for the many videos she made that reinforced gender binaries.
"I think I'm just gonna move on from this channel for now," she concludes the video. "I don't know if that's forever."
However, her exit hasn't been met with universal support. Rather, many in the YouTube community are insisting that Mourey should be allowed to grow from content she made 10 years ago, and arguing that her current beliefs and videos prove she is no longer that person.
"I really strongly believe that we should be judged not by how we acted when we were ignorant, but how we responded when we were informed. By that measure, Jenna Marbles is head and shoulders beyond a great many YouTubers," Hank Green, creator of VidCon, tweeted, adding, "She found ways to stay true to her comedy and her community while taking out the parts of what she did that caused harm, and she stayed funny the whole fucking time. I am very grateful for her example."
I really strongly believe that we should be judged not by how we acted when we were ignorant, but how we responded when we were informed. By that measure, Jenna Marbles is head and shoulders beyond a great many YouTubers.— Hank Green (@hankgreen) June 25, 2020
"we need to CELEBRATE REFORM AND CHANGE instead of condemning the past," creator Sky Williams wrote.
FUCK— ♡♪!? (@SkyWilliams) June 26, 2020
this @Jenna_Marbles shit is breaking me up.
we need to CELEBRATE REFORM AND CHANGE instead of condemning the past.
She has proven she’s grown. She’s been in ZERO drama. Donates time and money to animal shelters - she’s showed her growth in her work and life.
me: I support Jenna Marbles’ decision #weloveyoujenna— 🤡 (@TapWaterNation) June 25, 2020
also me: pic.twitter.com/3j5iyLnhWR
While Mourey may not be returning to YouTube, she does have a podcast with Julien Solomita. It's unclear if she'll continue to make other types of content. Refinery29 has reached out to Mourey for additional comment.
Watch Mourey's full video below.