Meet iilluminaughtii, YouTube’s most original creator. I’d like to introduce you to a drama that – on the surface – is somehow incredibly petty and ridiculous. But this goes deeper, spans multiple years, and I’ve inadvertently witnessed most of it from the sidelines.
Coincidence or Copy?
It’s April 20th, 2023. Twitter is still actively on fire, thank you, Elon Musk, and I’m doing what I usually do on a Thursday. Namely, playing D&D and wondering why I keep forgetting my reusable shopping bag. Rest assured, future self, you’ve packed at least one this week. Enough about my shopping woes; on Twitter, something dramatic is happening. YouTuber iilluminaughtii is calling out LegalEagle for plagiarism because allegedly using torn paper and highlighting effects in your videos is something only she can do.
We’ll ignore that those effects have been used for years. Longer than Blair has been creating videos online, certainly. They aren’t ‘her’ effects, and really, they aren’t even relevant to her claims. If you’ve ever sat down and binged videos from True Crime Daily, there’s a decent chance you’ve seen these in action.
Where it All Began
An editor for LegalEagle – Danny – emailed Blair asking if she had a plugin for an effect that appeared in her NFL video to speed up the editing process on his own personal videos. Danny is a freelancer, and from the shared messages and emails, he went out of his way to do things the right way. I’ve shared resources regarding writing – if I can save somebody time, I’m more than happy to do it. In my eyes, it’s like finding a really good song from an underrated artist. Why wait for somebody to find it themselves when you can send them a link and save everybody some time?
The key difference here is the effects. In her (since deleted) Twitter thread, Blair claimed it was the torn paper and highlighter effects that were ‘plagiarised’ by Danny. But, if you take a moment to read the messages, you’ll see those weren’t even the effects Danny was interested in. But they were the ones Blair accused him of plagiarising.
How (Not) to Cancel a Lawyer
If you haven’t already put two and two together, let’s introduce LegalEagle. I’m a sucker for law-adjacent YouTubers, don’t ask me why, and LegalEagle was my first foray into the scene. Closely followed by Attorney Tom. Sometimes you just need to have a giggle over situations you don’t understand.
I’m no genius, but I wouldn’t make baseless plagiarism allegations directed at a lawyer. However, Blair apologized, although I would argue its authenticity is dubious. My favorite part comes as a result of her thread. It is so comedic and ridiculous that if you wrote a story about it, I’d tell you it was unrealistic.
Hbomberguy shared clips from a documentary by Brian Deer, contrasted with clips from a video by Blair. If you listen carefully, it all starts to sound rather familiar.
(The name Hugh Fudenberg is now stuck in my head as a result. Whatever we can call this situation, it wasn’t even close to being on my 2023 bingo.)
This was addressed in her response video and called ‘an editing error,’ but I won’t lie, given her history? I disagree. I’m a university student that had to learn all about referencing rather quickly. If I submitted an essay, or a podcast, doing what she did, I would fail. I have no sympathy for somebody that produces documentary-style videos and has for years. There’s forgetting to attribute a quote, and then there’s plagiarism. Plenty of larger YouTubers have ghostwriters; once upon a time, I wrote for a few of them. I wouldn’t have been called back if I submitted work without citing sources.
With a channel that size, you check these things. She speaks pridefully about her sources but doesn’t properly include them in the video. So, really, it comes across as projection.
With Blair, however, this is normal.
Play Stupid Games…
Interestingly, Blair’s callout backfired in another way. Former collaborators joined in, calling her out for her abhorrent behavior behind the scenes. But we’ll touch on that later.
Much of the information from this section comes from Tipster’s video ‘YouTuber iiLLUMINAUGHTii wants to SILENCE Her Critics!!!’ and RingManofChaos’ videos on iilluminaughtii, which are longer, but certainly worth watching if you wish to learn more.
In February 2021, Blair attempted to call out CruelWorldHappyMind. CruelWorldHappyMind, also known as Madison, is a wonderful anti-MLM and anti-scam YouTuber. If you have some time to spare, I’d suggest her videos; they’re always a joy to watch. Madison sent a message to Blair, describing how the start of one of Blair’s videos sounded like one of her own. I’d argue that it was handled very well; the message wasn’t accusatory and empathized with Blair, and encouraged discussion. However, the message was ignored, and Madison moved on with her life and channel.
Or was it ignored?
Blair appeared as a guest on ‘The Double Cleanse’ podcast with Robert Welsh and spoke about the message. You know, the one she didn’t respond to or acknowledge. And, in that podcast episode, she entirely misrepresented it as well. Claimed that she had been accused of ‘copying’ Madison instead of simply having similarities. It is abundantly clear that Blair approached the situation with bad faith and aggression, contextualizing the situation with LegalEagle and the allegations following it. She goes out of her way to shame Madison’s sources list while speaking highly of her own, which I view differently now that I’m a university student creating bibliographies.
We’re always taught not to cite Wikipedia. In primary school, we were always told never to trust it, that anybody could change any page, and that the information was always incorrect. But, as a Wikipedia enthusiast that spends far too long on talk pages watching people fight about things, I disagree. You shouldn’t cite the Wikipedia page but look at the references section in most articles. It can be an incredibly helpful way to start researching something, though this is a case-by-case situation.
A Bibliographical Interlude
I’m a bibliography enthusiast and take great pride in the research I do for my work. In my first essay, I spent days, possibly weeks, reading around seventy academic papers because I wanted to create a nuanced argument. And, above all else, I enjoyed it! But I would never judge somebody with a bibliography of five sources because, depending on the referencing system you were taught, you may not reference the same things. Even within the same system, one course may require you to refer to all your reading. In contrast, others require only references to texts that shaped your argument or appeared in the essay.
(We’ll ignore that, when Madison sent the message, Blair didn’t even have sources on her videos. Only a promise that they were ‘coming soon’ – so in reality, Madison was doing what Blair wasn’t.)
A Simpler Time
This demonstration of pure ego would have turned me away from Blair’s channel if I hadn’t already unsubscribed years ago. Because, sometimes, there are content creators that end up on your naughty list, and you avoid them like the plague long after the backlash has blown over.
My first foray into the wonderful world of Blair was years ago when she accused fellow Reddit YouTuber RSlash of subbotting. Oddly enough, this is the same accusation she would later level at Madison, with her evidence at that time being a profile on a subscriber purchasing site. In both cases, she didn’t seem to grasp that when the algorithm favors you and your content, it quickly pushes you out to more people. When Reddit content was seeing a boom, it was understandable that anybody producing AITA videos would see an influx of subscribers.
And stolen images aren’t a new thing.
She was more than happy to allege that he was buying subscribers, despite nothing suspicious on his Social Blade. In turn, anybody that already had an opinion about RSlash, or was a fan of hers, was driven away from him and instead focused on her content. They ran in similar circles, despite what she may say about being in her own bubble, far better than those that simply read Reddit posts.
What she wanted to achieve with the accusations she leveled at RSlash remains unclear. To this day, it is a stain on her reputation – one that has only now been overtaken by her drama with LegalEagle. But enough about that. Around the same time this callout happened, Blair started looking into other ventures.
A Lactose Lament
Back in 2019, the collaboration channel Sad Milk was created. Included in its cast were several other Reddit YouTubers, including ‘The Click’ and ‘One Topic.’ I’ll admit, I didn’t watch their videos or even know of their channel until the first round of drama happened. But I do remember hearing rumors that Blair had deleted videos due to a joke and had otherwise been rather shady there.
Much like the YouTube/Twitch collaborative group ‘Lunch Club,’ when things go silent for a group, it’s usually because there’s a fire behind the scenes. In that case, it was because substantiated allegations came out against CallMeCarson. In Salty Milk’s case, well, Blair attempted a hostile takeover of the channel and controlled comment sections to establish a narrative that suited her.
The difference between the two groups disbanding is, I’m sure, partially down to what caused it. Lunch Club members were quick to condemn Carson, and there was never another upload. Compare this to Blair, who began to delete comments ratioing hate and used a burner account to level accusations at her collaborators. Until private messages were shared online to exonerate creators, this flew under the radar, creating a complex web of manipulation and control.
Interestingly, more has now come out from former collaborators. And these stories aren’t things that can be swept under the rug; they are viscerally horrifying stories and demonstrate the depths of the abuse that others endured at her hands.
Blair had complete control of the channel. And this control soon ran deeper than ‘just’ a YouTube channel.
Keep Your Enemies Closer
For two years, Blair stalked ‘The Click’ from an alternative account. Brought up old videos where he used unsavory language, hypocritically, of course. She allegedly stalked former collaborators, and even her own main account, posing as an outsider to call out the behavior. Yet Blair also allegedly paid others to find the clips. Her allegations went further, as she claimed he allowed a pedophile member of his staff team to remain in the server for months.
But he didn’t. In fact, they had already been banned. The only ‘delay’ came down to time zones.
This was not the worst thing she did, however.
It Gets Worse
Introducing ‘Wonderstruck Guy,’ who was arguably the final nail in the coffin for Blair. If the stories about calls filled with hours of screamed insults and the obsessive stalking were not enough, Wonderstruck’s account is bound to push anybody over the edge. His story is harrowing, and to try to retell it all here would be taking away the same power Blair robbed him of. What I can, however, detail is the way she pushed his mental health to breaking point. Shared private information, painted him as lazy, and tried to turn his friend against him through purposeful misinterpretations of his messages. She owned his car – a car he never wanted – and was about to become his landlord.
She was his primary source of income, having convinced him to move to a state where he knew nobody but her. Blair’s isolation, victimization, and bullying of this creator are not simply compelling. They are infuriating.
If you do have time to watch a video, make it Wonderstruck’s. His composure in the face of such a vulnerable situation is commendable.
Nevertheless, this situation should never have happened. Blair’s desire to win battles against herself has caused harm to so many.
Winning Stupid Prizes
The drama between iilluminaughtii and her former collaborators demonstrates how independent content creation can go wrong. It serves as a reminder of the social strong-arming a creator can do if they have a large audience. The risks that freelancers face if they speak out or seek support.
Online spaces, and online careers, can be wonderful opportunities to explore more creative possibilities. But there are bound to be flaws in such a new system. I strongly believe that this system, this ability to undo years of hard work done by others, presents a new way to silence criticism from within.