A couple of days ago, a story pitch was sent to us from Fullscreen’s PR representatives cluing us in about all the cover songs Fullscreen-backed YouTube musicians have done in conjunction with Sony to promote the upcoming Annie remake. There are talented YouTubers with some interesting and catchy takes on the tunes, no doubt.
But there was one name glaringly absent from the list: Luke Conard.
In case you’re unaware, Luke Conard was one of the YouTubers accused of inappropriate sexual behavior back in March 2014. After a couple of apologies that he later deleted, he disappeared quietly for awhile, but gradually rejoined social media and began posting videos again in October.
The most recent of those videos was a cover of “It’s the Hard Knock Life” from Annie. Much like the cover videos listed in the press release, Conard’s video features an Annie-themed endscreen as well as links in the description box to buy the soundtrack and check out the playlist of all the Sony-sponsored Annie YouTube covers.
Comments had already popped up across Tumblr, Twitter, and Conard’s videos from people concerned about his coming back to the YouTube space after the allegations against him at all, but the possibility that Sony Pictures might be sponsoring him to create content to promote their film sparked even more dissent.
In addition to his own cover of “It’s the Hard-Knock Life,” Conard had also been involved in a remix of the song in collaboration with the other YouTubers Sony had tapped to create covers, with the video ultimately being posted to Tyler Ward’s channel.
This collaboration with Conard received immediate backlash from Ward’s fans and members of the YouTube community.
The YouTube community has been speaking out against allowing YouTubers accused of sexual misconduct to continue to have the privilege of their platform for as long as these accusations have been occurring. But before this, there haven’t been many opportunities to see how that outspokenness would translate once they attempted to jumpstart their careers again.
Curtis Lepore was dropped from Rainn Wilson’s TV series after people reminded Wilson and his company of the rape charges that had been brought against him. Sam Pepper was dropped from Collective Digital Studios after his pranks caused outrage and accusations of sexual misconduct started coming out. Even former sitcom king Bill Cosby is having shows canceled as the rape allegations against him continue escalating.
In Conard’s case, as there are no reports of court proceedings (unlike the above), it’s not quite as cut and dry. If Ward’s video take down and failure to include Conard’s video in the e-mail sent to us/other outlets are a reaction to people drawing attention back to the accusations against him, this may indicate more trouble to come for the former YouTube star as he tries to find his way back into people’s subscription boxes. And he may not be the last.
Fullscreen and Conard have been contacted. In lieu of commenting on the outrage, Conard has passed along comments from the community praising his work.