Virgil Texas, Grooming, and Parasocial Relationships

A toxic mixture, but one all-too-common in the age of the internet.

A. Khaled

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Pictured above is Virgil Texas, co-host of the Bad Faith podcast with Brie Joy Gray. Courtesy of Bad Faith on YouTube.

What distinguishes online celebrity from its older counterparts is easier access to the figures we hold oh so dear–social media allows for unfettered rapport with the entertainers whose voices were once only broadcast through magazine spreads, TV and radio interviews, and much of what enabled mass media consumption in the past. With those barriers broken down, the claws of parasocial attachment are free to sink their influence in deep, and it can lead to some pretty unpleasant experiences as the accusations of child grooming leveled against Virgil Texas — former member of the Chapo collective — by Twitter user ‘Jennifer Seberg’ promptly demonstrate.

While there’s much to suggest in the testimony that it’s not a fabrication meant to discredit a member of the Chapo universe — and it’d be foolish to deny they’re a convenient target of regular scorn — it serves as a useful reminder that the bonds formed with the content creators we so idolize can be the source of much grief if power dynamics are not kept in check. It would already be bad enough on its own if Virgil thought appropriate to initiate intimate contact with a literal child, but that is further made worse by the prospect of this interaction being a strong possibility whenever there’s a lopsided relationship between creators and fans such that access to the former feels so exclusive that fans endowed with this opportunity are compelled to hold on to it even under the most compromising of circumstances.

Much ink has already been spilled on the transgressions of powerful (often male) entertainers, precipitated by the outpour of #MeToo-inspired testimonies on the heels of blockbuster investigations putting figures like Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer and Jeffrey Epstein under heavy scrutiny long-overdue, but those pale in comparison to the sheer volume of similarly-natured interactions between fans and content creators given their communities’ largely-insular nature. Since those who make content predominantly for the internet don’t have a tall circuit of media gatekeepers to scale, they have even bigger leverage to take advantage of their fans, even when that goes beyond the usual course of badgering to contribute monetarily…

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A. Khaled

Internet culture scribe with an interest in the digital economy, content creators, media and politics.