Pater for Millions

Negotiating the Collapse of a YouTube Father Persona


  • Michael Lee Humphrey Colorado State University



YouTube, Microcelebrity, Father, Narrative Stancetaking, Family Breakdown


Shaytards was widely considered the original YouTube family vlog, and the family built their massive following with representations of wholesome, heteronormative, religious Americans who could have fun with everyday life. As classic microcelebrities (Senft 2013), the family of six created a valuable brand for millions of fans, which led to fame and wealth. But when the father and driving force of the vlog was caught sending sexually explicit texts to a “cam model”, more than the family brand collapsed. Shay’s persona, as the steady father force for an imagined family (Friedman & Schultermandl 2016) of millions was sent into disarray. This article follows the comments across multiple channels that show how the imagined family negotiated this collapse, demonstrating how an audience can establish a deep personal connection with a microcelebrity’s persona.


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Author Biography

  • Michael Lee Humphrey, Colorado State University

    Michael Humphrey is an instructor at Colorado State University. a longtime journalist, he also covers social media and technology for Forbes.


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How to Cite

Pater for Millions: Negotiating the Collapse of a YouTube Father Persona. (2023). Persona Studies, 8(2), 42-55.