Skip To Content

    Here’s An Explainer On Rachel And Dave Hollis’ Social Media Meltdowns

    “It’s been an interesting thing to see someone rocket to the success that can kind of be brought down by their own hubris.”

    On today's episode of BuzzFeed Daily, we broke down the top pop culture headlines AND discussed Rachel and Dave Hollis's fall from influencer grace. You can listen below or scroll down to read more about the interview!

    Listen to BuzzFeed Daily on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or wherever else you might listen to your favorite podcasts!

    So let's dive right into it! Recently we talked to Buzzfeed News’ Stephanie McNeal about the spectacular mess that is Rachel and Dave Hollis. Here's some of what we learned:

    BuzzFeed Daily: You wrote a very interesting piece for BuzzFeed News detailing the rise and fall of formerly married influencers Rachel and Dave Hollis. Would you mind giving our listeners just a little bit of background on who Rachel and Dave are and how they rose to prominence?

    BuzzFeed Daily: The reason we're talking about them today is that this past Saturday, Dave went on Instagram Live to promote his new book, Built Through Courage. It started out OK, but then the tone quickly changed when he started demanding his followers spend "18 stinking dollars" to purchase his book, which he claimed would change their lives. When one commenter said they had no job or money, Dave replied by saying, "This 18 dollars would be the fastest route to getting paid." I mean, it's kind of ironic that someone claiming to have all the answers is visibly so unnerved by his fans not supporting him in the way he wants. Where do you think this disconnect comes from?

    Photo of Dave Hollis
    Gabe Ginsberg / WireImage

    SM: I think that Dave Hollis is just kind of snapping because he's been told for so long that he is this kind of revelation to everyone. And he and Rachel together especially, they just had hoards and hoards and hoards of devoted fans who told them they changed their lives. And I think if people tell you that for three or four years, you start to believe it.

    Their empire is kind of slipping because they got divorced last year and a lot of people were unhappy about how they handled the divorce and how they handled some of the situations that have happened since the divorce. And I think he's just angry. He's not getting the same level of praise that he used to, is my interpretation of it.

    BuzzFeed Daily: One of the many things that struck me about that Instagram Live, you know, is that Dave and Rachel constantly preach about the importance of hard work and humility and family. And yet, when his daughter asks him to make her breakfast during the video, he like sarcastically tells her to get a life and to take it down a notch. I mean, this is a man who historically has been a real master at curating a very pristine image of himself. And then it all just sort of crumbled in that moment. Do you think that was intentional? Do you think he's pivoting his brand in that way? Or do you think he was just sort of caught with his pants down in that moment?

    BuzzFeed Daily: So the main reason that Rachel and Dave have been provoking so much outrage is the fact that they're getting divorced. Like you said, even though they sold themselves as a happy and well-adjusted couple and not just rhetorically, they literally created a couples workshop that costs $1,795 to attend. What was the reaction from the public and their fans when they announced their divorce?

    BuzzFeed Daily: I want to dive into more specifics about Rachel. In the opening chapter of her highly successful 2018 book Girl, Wash Your Face, which you mentioned earlier, she wrote "You and only you are ultimately responsible for who you become and how happy you are." I mean, I'm just going to say it — she's an attractive white woman who's basically saying only you are to blame if you're not happy, while basically ignoring every single societal factor that may have benefited her and helped make her happy. Do you think her waning success has to do with people starting to see all of the ways that this message is actually very privileged?

    Dave Pedley / Getty Images for SXSW

    SM: Yeah, I think that when she first came out with her book, a lot of people were kind of taken aback by her success, and there were a lot of think pieces at the time, where people were trying to unpack the question of "Why do people like her this much and what is the secret sauce?" And there were some people who are kind of like, "Hey, you know, this message is kind of problematic," but a lot of people were huge fans of it. 

    And I really think, like I said in the piece, that they hurt their own brand because the way they portray themselves was as very average, hard-working, nice, and encouraging people. And they've kind of shown multiple times that that's not who they seem to be behind the scenes. So I think slowly over time, people who had read the book and really resonated with it and then followed them as they got more and more famous started to be like, "Hey, wait a minute. The way that they're acting on Instagram isn't the way that they're telling you to act in the book, and it doesn't seem to be who I thought they were." It's really powerful if it's someone that you've really put a lot of trust in. 

    BuzzFeed Daily: Then there was Rachel's now-deleted TikTok rant, in which she started by defending herself for having a house cleaner twice a week, but ended with her comparing herself to Harriet Tubman, RBG, Oprah Winfrey, Frida Kahlo, and Malala, to name a few. What the hell happened there?

    Rachel Hollis comparing herself to Harriet Tubman is woke. Girl, scrub your own toilets.

    Twitter: @TerriGreenUSA

    SM: Yeah, that was a really weird post. It was an extremely bizarre thing to say. I guess if I could go through it line-by-line, I think she was trying to say that she has bigger goals for herself than being just an average person, which I guess on its face is not that bad. But in the context that she was using, the message was kind of like, "Oh, I am not ordinary, because I don't want to be, and one of the reasons I am is I talk about people who come clean my toilets." Which, obviously, that's a great way to make a living, but the way that she said it — "woman who cleans my toilets" — feels a little derogatory to me. And yeah, it was extremely tone deaf. It was really out of touch. It was like a really weird thing to say, and it was said in a very aggressive tone. I mean, I was pretty taken aback when I watched it. I was like, "What is this? This is weird." So yeah, it was a weird video of her.

    BuzzFeed Daily: It seems like overall, this is really a story of two privileged white, wealthy people who made a name for themselves profiting off of a self-help, self-care narrative that they weren't actually practicing themselves. Do you see them being able to reinvent themselves from here? Do you think they have the possibility of pivoting their brand into a more authentic, real 2021 place? Or do you think it really just goes all downhill from here for them?

    We also talked about the “terrifying” moment Will Smith realized he might be going about parenting his kids Willow and Jaden all wrong.

    Chicago Tribune / TNS

    In a conversation with Spike Lee, Will said that while Willow was touring with Justin Bieber when she was 10, she told him that she was done performing.

    He went on to say that he didn’t take her seriously until she showed up at breakfast one morning with a shaved head.

    He said: "I'm looking and I'm like, 'Got it. I got it, baby. I'm sorry. I apologize. You can stop.’ It was terrifying. I felt like I had been texting looking at my phone and stepped out into the street in front of a bus and Willow snatched me back."

    Will added that the ordeal made him realize his own feelings hadn’t been considered when he was a kid, saying: "Because of my childhood, because of the way I was raised ... I didn't care about how I felt so I damn sure didn't care about how somebody else felt.”

    Plus, after receiving backlash for his comments about whether young kids should get vaccinated for COVID, Matthew McConaughey has clarified his statements.

    Photo of Matthew McConaughey
    Gary Miller / Getty Images

    While speaking at the New York Times' DealBook summit earlier this week, Matthew said: “I couldn't mandate having to vaccinate the younger kids. I still want to find out more information.”

    In response to the criticism, Matthew posted to his Instagram story, specifying that he was talking about the 5-11-year-old mandate.

    He added that it’s not true that he is against vaccinating kids at all, saying his oldest child — who’s 13 — is fully vaccinated.

    As always, thanks for listening! And if you ever want to suggest stories or just want to say hi, you can reach us at daily@buzzfeed.com.