(Pictured: Kian Lawley escorted by security at VidCon 2014)
VidCon is less than two weeks away — but for many YouTube stars, facing crowds of fans has never seemed more dangerous.
The YouTube community is still reeling today after singer Christina Grimmie was shot to death at a meet-and-greet with fans after her show in Orlando last night. It’s now been revealed that the shooter was a deranged “fan” who traveled to the show specifically to attack her, and managed to get inside the venue with two guns and a knife.
In the midst of our grief over losing Christina, there’s an unavoidable question in everyone’s mind: What’s to prevent this kind of violence from happening again?
This fear was very real for singer Bea Miller, who had to cancel an outdoor fan meetup at a show today due to security concerns — though she was still committed to signing merchandise for her fans afterward.
Harassment and stalking has been a problem in the community for a long time, and it’s only getting worse as social media stars reach new levels of fame while still feeling pressure to be constantly available to their audiences. Franchesca Ramsey aka Chescaleigh noted, “I can’t help but think of all the scary threats women on YouTube get, and how easy it is to get access to us.”
YouTube superstar Tyler Oakley has admitted on several occasions, including in his book and movie, that he worries about personal safety when he’s mobbed by fans.
“I did the same venue [where Grimmie was killed] on tour,” he told a fan on Twitter. “Reminds me of the talk [best friend Korey Kuhl] and I had in ‘SNERVOUS’ about security — I think we’re all scared.”
Many YouTube stars are understandably worried about VidCon, where safety issues were a concern for some creators long before the shooting.
Philip DeFranco from SourceFed addressed this in his latest video. “In one and a half weeks we have VidCon, an event where some of the biggest personalities online meet their fans, a place where tens of thousands of people go,” he said. “How do you keep that safe? Is it possible to keep that safe?”
He pointed out that there’s always been potential for violence at YouTube events. “Once you open the door to people, provide access, it is a possibility. Even before VidCon offered security to people that go to the event, I’d have two off-duty police officers with me. And even then I know I’m not completely safe, but what’s the alternative? To not do, to not go? To cower down in fear? No.”
VidCon co-founder Hank Green was quick to respond to these concerns, tweeting that VidCon staff had already planned increased screening for the event, but everything is under review following the tragedy.
He seemed painfully aware of how easily something like this could have happened at one of his own concerts. “I just played 12 500-person shows and none had armed security or metal detectors,” he told a fan on Twitter. “Some of them had no security at all.”