Nina Khosla ’23 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Gabbie Hanna is no stranger to scrutiny. She rose to fame on Vine and later transitioned to YouTube, famous for her dramatic story time videos where she rehashes drama from her personal life. She has been a victim of cancel culture multiple times, and earlier this summer the internet watched her go through a mental breakdown on social media. It’s possible Gabbie is one of the most criticized YouTubers of 2020, falling into drama with countless creators and even claiming to be blacklisted by the YouTube algorithm. After she was mercilessly bullied off of TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter, she found solace in working on her second poetry book, Dandelion.
Dandelion explores her inner mind, deepest thoughts, and hidden trauma Gabbie experienced as someone who found fame in the beginning of widespread social media as we know it. But to unpack this book of poetry, short stories, illustrations, and nonsequitur thoughts, we have to unravel a series of feuds in which Gabbie has been involved.
Gabbie’s former best friend, Jessi Smiles, accused Gabbie of taking the side of Jessi’s abusive ex-boyfriend Curtis Lepore, who pleaded guilty to felony assault charges in 2014. Both Gabbie and Jessi have uploaded hours of videos with screenshots of texts, receipts, and plenty of other proof that the other person is lying. Gabbie was also accused by Twitter users of collaborating with Jessi’s abuser after the abuse allegations became public in late 2013, even though Gabbie remains adamant there is no proof that this ever happened.
However, a photo of Gabbie and Curtis together posted to Instagram in 2015, a year after Curtis’ abuse trial began, surfaced online in early July of this year. This once again caused people to question how long Gabbie remained friends with Curtis after she knew about the allegations. Gabbie promptly deactivated her Twitter and Instagram accounts after the photo surfaced in July. Jessi and many Twitter users retaliated by posting pictures of Gabbie with a man who could look like the alleged abuser, but Gabbie responded by saying that’s just the back of a person’s head and it could be anybody and that it was not the man they thought it was. Overall, there is a lot of back and forth with this drama, and it is hard to say who is telling the truth in this situation with both stories harshly contradicting each other.
Gabbie also has ongoing beef with Trisha Paytas, who is upset at Gabbie for allegedly telling Trisha’s ex-boyfriend Jason Nashs that Trisha has herpes—which Trisha says she does not. Gabbie’s defense is that she told Jason this information as his friend, and that if she were datingsomeone who may have an STD, she would want to know. Trisha is steadfast that the information Gabbie heard was a rumor, and felt her sexual health was not Gabbie’s business, nor her responsibility to tell others. This has devolved into a slew of ad hominem attacks from both sides, including the two posting videos about each other on YouTube with each other’s pictures in the thumbnail, which many viewers argue is exploiting the other YouTuber and the fight for fame and views. Gabbie appeared on the infamous drama channel Drama Alert to discuss the feud in September.
Gabbie also has dealt with various other feuds online, including her heckling fellow YouTuber Ricegum at a party and then accusing him of pushing her and smashingher phone in 2017. She also posted a TikTok that people felt disrespected a girl who was murdered. And one time Gabbie posted a storytime video on YouTube about a girl who died in high school. And of course, TikTok users pounced on these opportunities to force Gabbie into a new drama, notably the time they pretended Gabbie Hanna sang a song by P!nk, and when Gabbie played along with it, they called her a liar and thief and accused her of trying to steal credit.
So no, Gabbie is no stranger to scrutiny. Since the start of her fame in 2014, she has been the victim of hate and cyberbullying, and even when she tries to be nice and genuinely helpful, she is met with hostility repeatedly.
Six years of torment in the public eye culminated in her poetry book Dandelion. As one of the countless YouTubers who found fame and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a dream, Gabbie was never quiet about the toxic culture of creators and the cliques present throughout. She unpacks that more deeply in this book, but instead of her usual videos and antics where she tries to assign blame to others, this time she looks deep within herself and reflects on how her life has changed.
She dives into the harsh realities of her influencer lifestyle: late nights, imposter’s syndrome, low self-esteem at the hands of faceless comments on the internet, toxic relationships, and most saliently, putting her own worth in the hands of people who don’t care about her. Whether that’s viewers online or people she thought she was truly friends with, Gabbie Hanna uses Dandelion to work through years and years of feelings she could never truly discuss for fear of being accused of starting a new fight for views.
Gabbie Hanna is nothing if not self-aware, and at its core, that’s what her new book is really about. Her rhyme schemes often look improper and poorly constructed, but with proper rhythm, her style mixes spoken word poetry with pop culture references and common sayings that she uses to construct multi-layered puns and jokes.
At this point in her career, Gabbie Hanna cannot undo what she has done and what has been done to her, but now that she is confident in herself and is working to find inner happiness not at the hands of others, her work is more honest. She no longer has to act with a layer of sarcasm and judgment for her own work; now she unapologetically produces whatever she wants. That honesty in her artistic process is what makes Dandelion enjoyable. Even at its most uncomfortable moments, like when she discusses her physically and sexually abusive relationship, the reader is compelled to continue. For skeptics, this may be the first book where people can fully see Gabbie Hanna as someone pursuing truth, not fame.
Regardless of your Gabbie Hanna opinions, Dandelion reached the fifth spot on the New York Times Bestseller list.