July 8, 2014

Vine star Nash Grier faces criticism for screaming gay slur

Nash Grier, the Davidson 16-year-old known for his viral Vines, is making headlines once again. But this time, it’s not his six-second videos commanding the Internet’s attention.

  UPDATE: Dad: Teen video star Nash Grier will atone for ‘stupid’ HIV video

Nash Grier, the Davidson 16-year-old known for his viral videos, is making headlines once again. But this time, it’s not six-second clips of his slapstick comedy commanding the Internet’s attention.

It’s a video on the social media outlet Vine of himself yelling a gay slur.

It wasn’t clear when Grier posted the video, but he has since removed it. The video starts with a clip from an HIV-testing commercial: “Testing for HIV. It’s not a gay thing.”

Then Grier comes on the screen and says: “Yes it is,” and then shouts a derogatory term for a gay person.

Grier, who was profiled in the Observer in October for his quirky videos, became the most-followed person on Vine in March.

Tyler Oakley, a YouTube personality who is an advocate for gay youth, found the video and posted it Sunday. Oakley reposted the video from a Tumblr account.

The story was reported Tuesday by an array of online news reports, including TMZ, The Huffington Post, The Daily Dot and Jezebel. Many of the reports and tweets labeled Grier homophobic – or worse.

Grier tweeted a screenshot of an apology Sunday, saying he was “young, ignorant, stupid, and in a bad place.”

“I’ve moved on and learned from my mistakes and I am so truly sorry to anyone I have offended,” the statement continues. “I have nothing against anyone or anything that promotes equality.”

On Monday, he posted a video on Vine in which he and a friend smile as they read a comment critical of Grier.

Grier currently has about 8.7 million followers on Vine and 2.7 million on Twitter.

Vine produces looping videos on an app powered by Twitter. It allows users to post videos, follow other users, “like” and forward videos, and comment on them.

News reports say he and fellow Vine star Cameron Dallas have been offered a movie deal.

But Anita Blanchard, a UNC Charlotte associate professor who specializes in social media, says this episode is likely to cost him.

Blanchard said she had seen Grier’s videos and “he’s clearly talented.” But the HIV spoof is “hate-filled and bigoted,” she said. He can’t claim he was taken out of context or made a spontaneous slip, she said, because he had to record, edit and post the clip.

“How can he be so stupid to think this wouldn’t have an effect?” said Blanchard, who works in psychology and organization science. “I would say his Hollywood deals and his fame are in serious jeopardy.”

Matt Comer, editor of qnotes, a publication for Charlotte’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community, said Tuesday it’s “quite unfortunate” that someone with so many young people following him used “a slur that is quite hurtful, that is often hurled at gay people when they’re being beaten up or discriminated against.”

But Comer also called Grier “a 16-year-old who is learning life lessons” and gave him credit for apologizing. Comer suggested that Grier “really put some action behind the apology” by volunteering with Time Out Youth, a support group for young LGBT people, or an AIDS service organization.

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