The Supermega Fallout Is a Messy Reminder of How Hard It Still Is for Victims to be Heard (2024)

If you were a teenager in the 2010s, chances are that you followed at least one gaming YouTube channel. My best guy friend turned me on to the Game Grumps in high school, and once I went to college, I’d still watch them from time to time, if only for nostalgia’s sake. It was through them that I discovered Supermega: a similar channel consisting of Matt Watson and Ryan Magee, two video editors-turned-channel runners in their own right.

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When I was in college, Supermega hit all the right spots. Their sense of humor was in line with that sardonic, hipster-adjacent style which was in fashion at the time, and they also appeared to be more socially conscious than other YouTubers (which, unfortunately, isn’t an especially high bar to cross).

However, I did eventually outgrow them, only dipping in every once in a while out of past fondness. Over time, it seemed like, over the years, they went from making fun of controversies on the internet to having a few of their own, including one of their employees (and closest friends) embezzling over $60k for items such as Steely Dan sweatpants. Each controversy was swiftly dealt with, yet this latest one has proved to be a far more consequential reckoning.

This article was updated on August 24 to include the official statement regarding the future of Supermega.

The initial allegations

Content warning: sexual assault

On Thursday, July 27, one of their former associates, Lex, released a statement and a video with an account of how the channel’s former artist, Don, sexually assaulted them:

i made a video about my experiences with Don and Matt & Ryan/SuperMega. it would mean a lot to me if you watched it https://t.co/clJr0eJDf7 pic.twitter.com/NhePWjfJk5

— lex updog (@niceupdog) July 27, 2023

It’s a heartbreaking story that took a lot of bravery to share, and unfortunately, it’s one that I (and many others) could relate to quite well. Both the lack of true accountability for sexual assault and the social ostracizing that follows are astoundingly common experiences that pained me to hear about. Moreover, each and every time Don has responded to this situation, he has continued to demonstrate a lack of true understanding of what he’d done to Lex, repeatedly trying to emphasize a “she may have felt that way” perspective and a guise of misunderstanding. I won’t share the Tweets here, as I don’t want to give him a platform, but you can find them on his Twitter.

When Lex finally told Matt and Ryan about what happened to her, they attempted to handle the situation gracefully, but ultimately fell short of providing her with the true support she needed as the victim. And after watching their statements on the situation, I believe a lot of it can be chalked up to a couple factors: lack of proper education and care in a society that still upholds rape culture (which isn’t an excuse, to be clear) and the sticky business of inviting friends into your business.

Both Matt and Ryan attempted to help Lex, yet they fell short because too few people actually know how to properly help victims of assault. Ryan tried to talk Lex through the situation, yet ultimately ended up grilling her—a common experience that ends up making victims feel shamed into silence. Matt attempted to bar Don from coming over to their place, yet was not strict enough, resulting in Lex having to fearfully hide from him when she knew he was going to be there.

Both Matt and Ryan took about a month to properly kick Don out of the business, while also encouraging the two to talk it out in person, something they’ve acknowledged was a terrible thing to do. Speaking from experience, talking to your abuser never, ever fixes anything, as there is nothing to gain from someone who cannot engage with other people in a respectful, conscientious manner.

Thankfully, since sharing her story, Lex finally feels as though she has some closure:

after everything, i just want to heal and me talking was the first step to that. i’m truly so grateful to have been believed ❤️

for the first time in over a year, i’m feeling my emotions instead of just disassociating. despite everything going on, i feel more normal than ever rn

— lex updog (@niceupdog) July 31, 2023

Coming out about sexual assault is incredibly difficult, especially when it involves such high-profile figures. I hope Lex can now move forward and find peace on their own terms.

Unfortunately, the story devolved and unraveled in ways that only occurred because, again … only a mess can occur when you hire your friends. And I hope I don’t sound like I’m making light of this, as this entire ordeal has been exhausting to the umpteenth degree.

Airing dirty laundry

Content warning: mentions of suicide

Here’s the thing: Community is great, but it can also be messy. If you’ve never been in a toxic friend group, consider yourself lucky, because it can have a major impact on you. Things become even dicier when you have a public image to maintain, and your social life inevitably becomes enmeshed with your work life.

The trauma of sexual assault is incredibly difficult to endure, especially when you feel dismissed by those around you. From everything I saw, Lex and her friends grew increasingly frustrated with their friend group following this instance and consecutive others (which we will get to), so Lex didn’t just detail assault and the aftermath in her video; she also aired some dirty laundry surrounding Matt and Ryan. So did another former employee named Leighton, who reiterated past allegations he’d made about hom*ophobia and added racism to them, which Matt responded to.

Although I admittedly got swept up in “The Drama” of it all as it was unfolding, if only because I was shocked, I don’t think it’s appropriate to discuss some of the more interpersonal disputes here. What does merit note is the fact that Lex says their producer, Jim, kissed her twice without affirmative consent shortly after they told him about the assault. This was entirely inappropriate, which Jim has acknowledged, yet only furthers the point that many people still don’t know how to properly respond to victims of assault.

Everything else stoked a fire that ultimately took away from the primary issue at hand: assault and a lack of accountability. All the surrounding conversations and issues detracted from the seriousness of the sexual assault, as it became less of a call to action for accountability and more of a complicated fight between former friends and coworkers that ended up being made highly public.

Consequently, the public is now involved, and most input is less than helpful. As I write this, people are making “he said she said” posts and trying to decry either side, which is incredibly frustrating. At the end of the day, someone has gone public with allegations of an assault committed by someone they trusted, and their mutual friends did not know how to handle it. I do not claim to understand what happened between Supermega and anyone aggrieved by them other than Lex, and therefore, I would be remiss to take any definitive side. Only one thing has been made entirely clear by all parties involved: Lex came forward about being assaulted, and the situation was not handled in a way that was restorative.

As the public, that should be it for us—case closed. Everything else is for them to hash out.

Moving forward

Ryan stated in his apology that it would be the last video he’d make, and a few weeks later, the channel responded with the video above, sharing their intent to take time away from the internet and work on themselves. And honestly, this was the best way to go about things, in my opinion. Supermega has built their career on sardonic humor, which was then coupled with a culture that operated on unquestionable good faith, meaning any criticism was quickly shut down by fans with similar sensibilities. Though I will admit, the old fan in me is mournful about this being the way the channel goes, I can’t say this outcome is entirely surprising.

Good intentions and optics only go so far, and though we continue to make important strides towards recognizing and acting on assault, we still have a long way to go. The actions Lex described were repugnant and she should not have had to carry them, let alone in solitude. Both Matt and Ryan admitted in their apologies that they simply didn’t want to deal with it, that they hoped things could get resolved between Don and Lex without outside input, and that they were stressed from other things going on. It’s good that they’ve since realized how dismissive and harmful such an attitude is, but it’s sad that it took all of this to get there.

I don’t think Matt and Ryan need to be canceled forever and ever into the ground, as their apologies seemed genuinely remorseful, and I don’t think they are bad people. I also don’t think there needs to be a witch hunt on either side, especially regarding Lex, who has been the subject of continual questioning and aggression from angry fans. That the focus continues to tiptoe around the assault only shows how little most people take such acts of violence seriously, which is disturbing, to say the least.

Ultimately, we all need to examine our internal biases and actively work in favor of those who are at-risk. Otherwise, people will continue to get hurt and ignored.

(featured image: Supermega / Lex Updog)

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The Supermega Fallout Is a Messy Reminder of How Hard It Still Is for Victims to be Heard (2024)
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