At the beginning of this week, few people outside of the YouTube community knew the name Marina Joyce. Come Tuesday, however, #SaveMarinaJoyce was trending across Twitter and Facebook – a rallying cry to rescue the London-based fashion vlogger from some unknown, definitely dangerous situation.
The drama started when Marina posted a new video, "Date Outfit Ideas", to her 1.3 million YouTube subscribers. Commenters noted that, in the clip, she seemed unusually dazed. Some said they could hear her whisper "help me", others claimed they could see bruises on her body and the reflection of a hooded man in her eyes. Because this all happened on the internet, everything got very out of hand very quickly, and before long Marina's fans had convinced themselves that something was up, starting the #SaveMarinaJoyce hashtag and coming up with all sorts of theories about what might have happened to her, and why – they believed – she was surreptitiously asking for their help.
Amid all this, Marina tweeted out an invitation to a "morning rave" in Bethnal Green, which inspired rumours that the 19-year-old had been kidnapped by ISIS, drugged and forced to lure her fans to the event so the terror group could attack them all. The police were called – in what must have been an extremely confusing conversation for whoever picked up – and went to investigate, finding Marina "safe and well" at her home in Enfield. Bizarrely, this didn't stop anyone from freaking out, with tweeters and YouTube commenters – including YouTube celebrity Alfie Deyes – urging people not to go to the morning rave, or anywhere near Bethnal Green, lest they put their lives at risk.
The whole thing was, of course, just tweens working themselves up for no reason whatsoever. Marina was absolutely fine the entire time and was shocked to see #SaveMarinaJoyce trending, telling The Sun, "I now know that if I'm ever really in trouble or in danger then my YouTube viewers will be there for me. It is incredible what people have done. They have helped my channel so much now."
So that's nice – Marina's fine and her channel is going great. But what about Bethnal Green, this highly dangerous place that nobody in their right mind should ever visit? How do its residents feel about living in London – nay, the world's – most dangerous place? To find out, we went and spoke to a few of them (most of whom didn't want their photos taken).
VICE: Are you worried about her?
Sam, 24: I couldn't care less, to be honest. I think it's ridiculous. She's got no relevance to my life. There's more important things going on in the world than some vlogger.
What about you? You're in Bethnal Green – do you feel like your life is in danger?
Actually I'm really scared I'm going to be kidnapped like this Marina girl, you know? Not sure if I'm going to sleep tonight, I'll probably be shitting myself.
So do you think you'll show your support at the meet-up?
I feel like I'm starting to warm to Marina now and should show my support. I feel like we should look after the local community.
VICE: So will you be joining in to #savemarinajoyce?
Darryl, 33: I'm a massively cynical bastard; it sounds an awful lot like a massive publicity stunt. I say massive – it sounds like a half-arsed attempt at a publicity stunt. A lot of people will go, "Oh my god," whereas cynical bastards like me, as horrible as that sounds, will go, "Yep." It might be real and atrocious and terrible, but there's always that cynic in me.
Do you think your life could be in danger now? I mean, one girl has already been kidnapped.
Not any more than usual. I'll try my best not to sleep.
ISIS could be using her as bait. Worried?
I'm pretty certain if I did an uncomfortable poo these days that ISIS would probably take responsibility for it. They'd totally say it was their doing.
So do you think this could turn into a war? Maybe ISIS vs YouTubers?
No, not at all. I think both sides have got better things to do with their time.
Are you scared you could be next?
Quentin, 25: I had no idea. I wasn't aware it happened, so yeah, obviously! I'm scared in general – doesn't matter which area. I'm surprised nothing has happened in London yet.
Do you believe ISIS have kidnapped her?
Every time something happens, first thing they think of is, "It's ISIS." There's no evidence.
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VICE: Do you think you'll be able to sleep tonight?
Ben, 24: I did hear about it on Facebook. I wasn't really worried. I think I'll manage eventually.
How do you feel that ISIS could be on your doorstep?
Who knows? There's always apparently a risk, isn't there?
You've lived in Bethnal Green all your life. What with all this going on, maybe it's time to move?
I think I'll be OK.
VICE: Are you worried about being kidnapped any time soon? You do live in Bethnal Green, after all?
Nichol, 28: Why should I be scared that I'll be kidnapped in my own house? No, I'm not. I'm a man. I live with a lot of people. I'm not scared.
VICE: Are you scared about ISIS targeting you?
Ruby, 22: If she's a public figure, I'm not saying she's brought it on herself, but if she's a public figure then they obviously knew who she was. They must have targeted her because she's a public figure.
Still, it's worrying, isn't it? ISIS kidnapping YouTubers. Do you think you'll sleep tonight?
I'm not scared to sleep – I've got a concierge! I've lived in some dodgy houses before. But that was in Mile End. Mind you, Bethnal Green isn't any safer.
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