Social media personality Trisha Paytas has had a turbulent history in the public eye, teetering between admiration and hatred. Regardless of your opinion on her content, we can all agree that her mysterious and confusing past is entertaining. Where do we begin to unpack the enigma that is Trisha Paytas?
Paytas’ Controversial Past
After moving to Los Angeles to pursue acting, Paytas began her YouTube career in 2007 with vlogs and mukbangs. Her channel, blndsundoll4mj, has since amassed almost 5 million subscribers, and she’s become quite the controversial character.
In one of her most iconic videos, a few days after a break-up in 2016, Paytas posted “im a chicken nugget,” which features her sitting on the kitchen floor with smeared makeup describing her identification with chicken nuggets.
Let us not forget one of her most problematic moments back in 2019, when she posted a now-private video explaining that she is transgender because she likes gay men, while she simultaneously identifies “1000 percent” with her natural-born gender.
She stirred up the internet again back in March of this year with a video titled “MEET MY ALTERS.” In the video, which has since been made private, she says she has self-diagnosed Dissociative Identity Disorder. She received a ton of backlash from her audience. Quick to reject the validity of her claim, commenters were outraged at the misinformation Paytas spread about the disorder.
More recently, clips of Paytas playing trivia on an episode of H3 Podcast titled “Is Trisha Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” have been circulating on TikTok. Her explosive comments range from topics such as her recent discovery of the Holocaust — “I lowkey got really sad about the Holocaust this weekend. It was explained what actually happened and I like started crying” — to her stance on the invention of gravity by Sir Isaac Newton — “We actually don’t need it.”
My personal favorite Trisha Paytas meme is the TikTok of her dancing to “King Tut” by Steve Martin that went viral in August. It’s captioned, “#euphoric will prob delete. Prob offensive.” Two million people expressed their appreciation via the like button.
#euphoric will prob delete. Prob offensive
A New Paytas?
Over the last month, we’ve seen a change in Paytas online, or at least a new side of her. She voted for the first time at 32-years-old. She has since deleted her problematic YouTube videos or turned them to private, and she has begun to see a therapist.
Paytas has also turned to making more positive content. For example, a POV TikTok of her asking the camera to join her as she has a snack aims to comfort viewers who are struggling to eat. She calmly and empathetically talks about how it is sometimes difficult to listen to your body, but reminds the viewer that all food, whether it’s cookies or an apple, is OK to have.
Her followers have noticed the shift. “Not me liking the new Trish,” commented one person, to which Paytas responded in a video thanking her viewers, “I’m constantly learning from the younger generation here on TikTok.” She continued, “I’m 32 and I feel like I’ve changed and grown so much from even just a year ago … It’s nice to be liked sometimes even though I think I liked trolling back in the day. It’s so much better to feel love than hate because I realize not all attention is good attention.”
Or Was This Paytas All Along?
As she mentioned in the video, Paytas did admit to her past fondness for trolling her audience for attention. Certainly, no one would believe that they are transgender when they actually identify with their assigned gender or believe that they are a chicken nugget.
Even the caption of my favorite Paytas meme shows some self-awareness: “probb offensive.” Paytas knows exactly which comments will get the internet talking, and she is not afraid to say it despite its danger.
Her empty-headed and outlandish claims are part of the act, and as the saying goes, any publicity is good publicity. She certainly created incredible fame to her name, with controversy after controversy. Although it’s an effective business method for an online personality, Paytas is rethinking her internet scandal style.
Perhaps it’s not a question of whether or not Paytas’ internet persona is an act. Rather, it’s a question of whether or not her character’s reputation is redeemable. Paytas has expressed some frustration on TikTok with her audience constantly commenting for her to apologize. She says she’s already apologized on every social media platform, and as the background sound says, “let’s move on.”
Is She Canceled? Or Does She Get Another Chance?
Will Paytas have a redemption arc after a long career of controversy? We’ve seen a trend of how internet cancel culture ends people’s relevance. Recently, Paytas’ friend and former collaborator Shane Dawson was canceled for sexualizing minors, making racist jokes and wearing blackface in old videos.
While Dawson has made several weak attempts to apologize throughout the course of his career for his array of offenses, “Taking Accountability” from June 2020 may be his last one. He hasn’t uploaded a video since.
YouTube demonetized his channels, which is a legitimate and serious punishment. The internet seems to have effectively canceled Dawson, and although he could make a comeback and still have supporters, so far, he seems to recognize that perhaps he is undeserving of such a platform.
With Paytas, we see the internet reacting a bit differently. She continues to gain traction on TikTok where she now has 3.6 million followers. However, we see mixed emotions — “We love growth and maturity,” commented one user on her “let’s move on” TikTok. “This is a step but how ab an actual apology for your recent hurtful actions?? All of them are still up,” commented another person, and she was called out by a user who said, “Great! Could you sincerely apologize as well instead of simply making jokes about how better you are now? We love to see change but you hurt people.”
While some seem to have decided to stan her, many are calling her out for her previous and continued errors. She still has a platform, and even though much of her audience remains upset about her shocking content, they are taking a gentler approach than outright canceling her. Viewers seem to be giving her a chance to take accountability for her actions.
The difference is that so many people still want to hear what she has to say, and that shows some faith in her ability to actually change. And perhaps this is because her mistakes are arguably not as egregious as Dawson’s, even if their excuses for their actions are the same. So far, it seems like the internet may be giving her room to educate herself. We’ll wait and see what she does with the opportunity.