Comedian Chris D’Elia Accused of Sexual Harassment by Underaged Girls
- Dozens of women on Twitter accused comedian Chris D’Elia of preying on them when they were minors, with some including screenshots of their interactions.
- Some women said D’Elia repeatedly DM’d them, tried to initiate sexual contact or conversations with them, or tried to solicit nudes from them, all while knowing they were 16 or 17.
- D’Elia denied the accusations in an interview with TMZ. He claimed all of his relationships had been legal and consensual and that he never exchanged photos with these girls. He then apologized for ever getting “caught up” in his lifestyle.
- This started a larger conversation about what needs to be done in comedy and television to prevent men who behave inappropriately form climbing to the top or using their fame to harm women.
Allegations Pour In Against Chris D’Elia
Comedian Chris D’Elia has been accused of sexually harassing and messaging underage girls by multiple women online.
The comedian and sitcom star became a trending topic on Tuesday evening when dozens of women detailed stories alleging that D’Elia messaged them online when they were teenagers and attempted to initiate sexual relationships or dialogue with them.
The chain reaction of accusations started when one woman, Simone Rossi, tweeted screenshots of her old interactions with him.
“Imagine being 16 and being groomed by a stand up comedian twice ur age and the only reason you never met up and never got physically m*lested was because u had just gotten a boyfriend ur own age,” she wrote.
She shared screenshots of e-mails the two allegedly exchanged when she was 16-years-old. In one, D’Elia suggests the two meet up and make out. In another, he asks her to send a photo.
“For the longest time i thought it was embarrassing for ME that i was interacting with this older man but he was the one who DM’d me on twitter and was the one who was twice my age and was the one that used the power imbalance between us to his advantage,” she added, also claiming that there were a ton of other underage girls with similar stories.
This prompted a flood of other women to share their experiences. Many said they were fans of his at the time or had attended one of his stand up shows when they began contact on social media. One person claimed D’Elia solicited nudes from minors while in Vancuver and tried to initiate sex with a 16-year-old.
“when i called u out on twitter you told her you’d ruin her life if i didn’t delete it. absolute pedophile scumbag,” they added.
Another shared direct messages between her and the standup that they allegedly exchanged when she was 17, and he was 30. When he learns that she is 17 he says she is “too young” but continues to message her, ask for her number, and tell her she is cute.
“Although i’ve been publicly saying it for years, FUCK Chris D’elia. he solicited nudes off of me when i was 17 years old and constantly messaged me whenever he was touring vancouver and asked me to come backstage to his shows,” another peson said, saying that D’Elia has a reputation for this.
Many also referenced the parallels between this behavior and D’Elia’s character on the second season of the Netflix show “You.” There, he plays a man who uses his fame to prey on and assault underage women.
As all these accusations were piling in online, the popular Twitter account She Rates Dogs, which shares women’s stories of their bad experiences with men, collected stories they were receiving about D’Elia. Their long thread included numerous allegations, including one from a girl who said he DM’d her when she was a senior in high school and asked for her number, telling her to keep the conversation private. That girl claimed he tried to hook up with her friend in his hotel room, but they left after they were made to feel uncomfortable.
Another story shared by She Rates Dogs came from someone who claimed D’Elia sexually assaulted their sister when she was 17 after giving her numerous drinks.
An old clip from D’Elia’s podcast “Congratulations” also began circulating around Twitter.
“You ever seen a fucking 14-year-old? She looks 30. I’ve never seen…there’s no such thing as a 14-year-old girl anymore. They go from like 6 to 25,” he says in the clip.
Responses to the Allegations
Some were surprised by the allegations, while others defended D’Elia against them. The screenshots and stories have not been verified or corroborated, and because of this, some dismissed the claims in them.
Still, other tweets from those in various comedy scenes suggested that some people may have known about at least some of his behavior. One person said when they were starting out in stand-up, one of D’Elia’s friends told her that he is known to make memes out of the nudes sent to him and then share them with his friends.
Others just seemed unsurprised by the claims.
D’Elia Denies Accusations
On Wednesday, D’Elia denied the accusations in an interview with TMZ.
“I know I have said and done things that might have offended people during my career, but I have never knowingly pursued any underage women at any point,” he told the tabloid.
“All of my relationships have been both legal and consensual and I have never met or exchanged any inappropriate photos with the people who have tweeted about me,” he continued.
“That being said, I really am truly sorry. I was a dumb guy who ABSOLUTELY let myself get caught up in my lifestyle. That’s MY fault,” D’Elia added. “I own it. I’ve been reflecting on this for some time now and I promise I will continue to do better.”
Predatory Behavior in Comedy
The accusations against D’Elia also opened a larger conversation about predatory behavior in comedy and television.
“Comedy is a treasure trove of the type of guy who gets any amount of social currency and then thinks, “how can I use this to prey on underage girls,” writer and podcaster Dana Schwartz tweeted.
She also shared an experience of her own. At one point, she worked with an established and older male screenwriter. He was married and twice her age, but tried to kiss her one day. After she rejected him, he cut off communication and dropped the project.
Stand-up comedian Meghan Gailey said comedy club owners should be doing more to stop comedians with known predatory behavior from getting booked.
Writer and stand-up comedian Ian Karmel applauded the women who spoke out against D’Elia and asked how the comedy community could become a safer place where women do not have to tell these stories.
Many suggested that men need to call out other men when they see something that looks suspect so they can stop inappropriate behavior in its tracks.
See what others are saying: (Vulture) (Newsweek) (The Independant)
Twitch Tightens Policies on Explicit Deepfakes
“The creation, promotion, or viewing of this content is not welcome on Twitch,” the company said in a blog post.
New Rules Regarding “Synthetic NCEI”
Twitch is cracking down on explicit deepfake content and will indefinitely suspend users who share or promote it after a first offense.
“The existence of this content, and its presence and distribution on various sites, is personally violating and beyond upsetting. Deepfake porn isn’t a problem on Twitch, but it’s a terrible issue that some streamers (almost exclusively women) may face on the internet at large,” Twitch said in a Tuesday blog post, explaining it wants to “help streamers protect themselves” in any case this issue arises.
Twitch referred to this content as “synthetic non-consensual exploitative images,” or “synthetic NCEI,” but many of the platform’s users have casually referred to it as deepfake porn. Synthetic NCEI involves someone taking the face of another person and editing it into a pornographic video to make it appear as though that person filmed themselves demonstrating those sexual acts. The new rise in access to this technology has concerned many, as it is easy to use it to exploit others.
While synthetic NCEI is already banned on Twitch, the company took a more actionable step against it in its Tuesday post by creating an Adult Sexual Violence and Exploitation policy. The new rule prohibits the intentional sharing, promoting, or creation of synthetic NCEI and those acts can result in an indefinite suspension on the first offense.
Twitch also updated its Adult Nudity policy to include synthetic NCEI. Even if it is only shown briefly, that content will still be taken down and result in an enforcement.
In addition to the policy changes, Twitch made available a list of resources for those who might be impacted by or wish to learn more about synthetic NCEI.
“The creation, promotion, or viewing of this content is not welcome on Twitch,” the company said closing its blog post.
Growing Concerns About Explicit Deepfakes
Twitch’s updates come as synthetic NCEI and deepfakes have become a primary topic of concern for social media platforms. Earlier this year, Twitch was home to a major deepfake controversy after a streamer known as Atrioc was caught with an open tab to a website that hosted these videos. That site specifically hosted deepfakes of female Twitch streamers, some of whom were Atrioc’s colleagues.
Many women featured on the page spoke out against these deepfakes, explaining the trauma they endured knowing their face, image, and likeness were used in a sexual manner without their consent. It’s an issue that extends far past Twitch creators. Some fear they could be used for revenge porn, and there are already several cases where the technology is used to create sexual videos of celebrities.
On Tuesday, NBC News published a report finding that Facebook and Instagram ran suggestive ads featuring deepfakes of actresses like Emma Watson and Scarlett Johansson. The ads were for a deepfake app that told users they could “replace face with anyone.”
While the ads did not show explicit pornographic content, one ad featuring Watson was clearly meant to mimic the start of an explicit video, suggesting a sexual act was about to start. The face of the “Harry Potter” actress was seen looking into the camera before bending down.
The report found that 127 ads with Watson deepfakes and 74 with Johansson deepfakes ran across Meta’s platforms on Sunday and Monday, but have since been removed. The app in question was also removed from the Apple app store after NBC News contacted the tech giant for comment.
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Engadget) (Kotaku)
Fans Defend Pedro Pascal After Actor Refused to Read Thirst Tweets: “It’s Sexual Harassment”
Pascal has been dubbed the Internet’s “daddy,” but many think the joke has gone too far.
Pascal’s Heartthrob Status
Fans are defending actor Pedro Pascal after he refused to read thirst tweets on the red carpet, arguing that it is inappropriate and disrespectful to ask him to do so.
Pascal, the star of HBO’s “The Last of Us” and Disney+’s “The Mandalorian,” has become a major Hollywood heartthrob. He has even been widely dubbed as the Internet’s “daddy” by those posting about his handsome looks. The running joke grew last year when he did a Vanity Fair lie detector test and said he considered himself a “bigger daddy” than “Star Wars” star Oscar Isaac.
“Daddy is a state of mind, you know what I’m saying? I’m your daddy,” he quipped during the interview.
Since then, TikTokers have started posting thirst trap edits of Pascal, journalists have called him “daddy” on the red carpet, and interviewers have shown him tweets where fans call him a “cool, slutty daddy.”
Pascal has been a good sport about the public displays of lust for him, but many think the joke may have crossed a line. During last week’s red carpet premiere for season three of “The Mandalorian,” an Access Hollywood reporter went viral for asking Pascal to read thirst tweets to the camera. Pascal politely declined.
“No. Dirty! Dirty!” he told the reporter after reading through the tweets.
“For your enjoyment only,” she responded.
“Thank you very much,” Pascal said before exiting the interview.
Fans Condemn Thirst Tweet Interviews
In response, many who watched the clip condemned this treatment of Pascal, arguing it promoted constant objectification.
“I think it’s time for the internet to leave Pedro Pascal alone,” one person wrote. “It’s sexual harassment, but no one seems to care bc he’s a man + is graceful about it. It’s really gross and I would never want to be treated like that.”
“These jokes have gone way too far and he’s visibly uncomfortable,” another fan added.
Some claimed that while the Internet’s love of Pascal “started as harmless fun…the constant public objectification and sexualization must be terrible” and should stop.
“Being attractive, banking on it, selling it, and even at times enjoying some of the attention, doesn’t give everyone wholesale permission to sexualize you,” someone else argued.
See what others are saying: (IndieWire) (The Gamer) (BuzzFeed News)
Conservatives Pledge to #BoycottHershey After International Women’s Day Campaign Featured a Trans Woman
“I hope this campaign shows trans girls they can dream big and change the world too,” activist Fae Johnstone said in her Hers for She video.
Hershey Highlights Fae Johnstone
Step aside, Green M&M. Conservatives have a new candy that they’re mad at: Hershey bars.
On Wednesday, Hershey Canada unveiled its “Her for She” International Women’s Day initiative, which aims to celebrate “women changing the future.” Conservatives were quickly outraged by the company’s choice to highlight Fae Johnstone, a trans woman and LGBTQ+ rights activist, as part of this effort.
“We can create a world where everyone is able to live in public space as their honest and authentic selves,” Johnstone said in a “Her for She” video.
In addition to Johnstone, the campaign features gender equality activists, a climate tech researcher, and an indigenous rights activist, all of whom have fought for progress in their respective fields. The women will appear on Hershey’s websites, in marketing promotions, and in artistic renderings on Hershey bar wrappers.
Johnstone wrote on Twitter that she hopes Hershey’s campaign will “give more young women and girls role models” who can demonstrate how to “change the world, together.”
“It also means a lot to be included, as a young(ish?) trans woman,” Johnstone continued. “I grew up with few trans role models. Many young trans folks haven’t met a trans adult. I hope this campaign shows trans girls they can dream big and change the world too.”
A Swift Transphobic Backlash
This decision, however, prompted right-wing Twitter users to accuse Hershey of hating “real” women. Many of the posts included blatantly transphobic rhetoric, as well as promises to boycott the company because it went “woke.”
The outrage was so prominent that #BoycottHershey was one of the top Twitter trends on Thursday morning.
This backlash comes just a little over a month after conservative media figures like Tucker Carlson slammed M&M for making the green mascot character, well, less sexy.
In response to Mars changing the green candy’s outfit, Carlson accused the Mars company of making its characters “as unattractive as possible because when you’re intentionally repulsive, it’s clear you’ve got the right politics.”
Not long after the right-wing backlash, M&M opted to replace its “spokescandies” with actress Maya Rudolph.
The conservative outrage targeted at both Hershey and M&M is part of a larger culture war against any company that makes changes to address diversity, climate change, or other social issues. Brands like Xbox, “Sesame Street,” and more have at one point provoked the ire of Fox News hosts and other Republican figures.
In fact, their outrage against these progressive changes has become so common that once #BoycottHershey was trending, some tweeted that they did not even have to click on the hashtag “to know that they must have done something compassionate that the right hates.”