The Brief: After beauty vlogger Tati Westbrook released a video publicly cancelling fellow YouTuber James Charles, James' number of subscribers dropped by over 3 million.
According to Social Blade, as of Friday May 10th, the 19-year-old beauty blogger, who’s known for his makeup tutorials and collaborations with fellow YouTubers like Jeffree Star, had around 16.5 million subscribers. As of Monday, that number has since fallen to about 13.8 million and shows no signs of slowing down.
james charles creating new youtube accounts to subscribe to himself pic.twitter.com/a3fTlkgj4r
— ☾ sriracha ☼ (@srocha107) May 13, 2019
Nearly 3 million people unsubscribed from James’ YouTube page, amid backlash over his feud with fellow YouTube beauty vlogger Tati Westbrook. Celebs who have unfollowed James include Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian, and Kylie Jenner.
On Friday, Tati released a 43-minute video titled “Bye Sister,” which directly drags the way James opens each of his videos with “Hi Sisters”. In said video, which has over 35 million views, Tati slams James for alleged comments he’s made about other beauty influencers, accuses him of spreading lies about her, and claims he has had a habit of sexually harassing straight men.
— 💅🏻 (@ju4ns1t0) May 13, 2019
james charles: you can't just cut people out of your li-
— Tea Spill Central (@TeaSpillCentral) May 13, 2019
The beginning of the Tati and James feud dates back to April when James shared a sponsored advertisement from Coachella for Sugar Bear Hair vitamins to his Instagram Story. As it turns out, Sugar Bear is a direct competitor to Tati’s supplement brand, Halo Beauty.
While James made a half-hearted apology via Instagram Story, without getting too specific or naming names, Tati wasn’t having it. In her video, she publicly cancels James Charles, renouncing any friendship they may have had.
I only came back to Twitter for the James Charles Scandal. pic.twitter.com/T2x268FpYQ
— nat (@Ughwhatadrag) May 13, 2019
The Internet’s Response
me this weekend in my bed looking at James Charles live subscriber count drop pic.twitter.com/4u8EJGeAXH
— *•.¸♡ 𝒹σ𝕟 ♡¸.•* (@Don15930370) May 13, 2019
So far, the internet seems to be siding with Tati as she is gaining YouTube subscribers just as quickly as James is losing them. The majority of the related memes and tweets drag James for his alleged behavior as well as for previous questionable actions.
This certainly isn’t the first time that a Youtuber has had past comments and other questionable behavior brought to the public’s attention.
this didn’t age well https://t.co/fleE2g8yUr
— sebastian stan stan | i miss tøp (@__awsten) May 13, 2019
anyway congrats to james charles for hitting 13M subscribers this is such a huge milestone and step towards influencer representation in the media https://t.co/iymbKl9c01
— elijah daniel (@elijahdaniel) May 13, 2019
Everyone's like making tweets and videos spreading awareness about James Charles toxicity, why can't we do the same with our environment?
So why not everytime James loses 100 subcribers let's plant 1 tree
RT if you agree
— tien // ia bc school (@atienne_) May 12, 2019
James Charles vs. Straight Men
In her video, Tati mentions an inappropriate comment James made about wanting to hook up with a straight waiter at a restaurant, disregarding his sexual orientation. According to Tati, James has made similar comments on more than one occasion, claiming to “turn” any straight man, gay.
This has been the subject of many memes.
James Charles: pic.twitter.com/BYd3UBStni
— shelby (@lifeofbaileys) May 13, 2019
Was totally straight before James Charles slid into my DMs and now look what’s happened pic.twitter.com/Ps5oQglBN2
— Matt Lucas (@RealMattLucas) May 13, 2019
— Unbothered😏 (@unbothered_sis) May 13, 2019
Rowling’s retroactive changes to the beloved book series, including her announcement that the character Dumbledore was gay, despite the fact that there is no mention in the series itself, became the subject of many memes earlier this year.
jk rowling james charles
making people gay
— Madelyn Rae Ⓥ (@Madelyn_Rae_) May 13, 2019
Met Gala Marginalization
Last week, James Charles attended the Met Gala. After thanking YouTube for the invite, he went on to express his gratitude for being able to represent an otherwise underrepresented community: influencers.
His statement certainly did not sit well with Twitter nor apparently, Tati Westbrook.
ah, yes. the historically oppressed and marginalized class, "influencers." pic.twitter.com/g3gFko2eyz
— Fran Tirado (@fransquishco) May 7, 2019
Keep in mind James Charles is from ALBANY, New York. He knows NOTHING about being marginalized or under represented. He’s the spokesperson for white privilege.
— Psychopathology Tea (@PsycTea) May 12, 2019
probably(*) the last thing i’ll say about it but the james charles thing is lowkey shining a light on how even queer men can show signs of toxic masculinity and just bc ur in a marginalized group doesn’t mean u can’t be a willfully bad person
— daddy’s wee goblin 🙂 (@alienoddity) May 13, 2019
James Charles acts like influencers are marginalized and need representation yet is awful representation for the actual marginalized group of people he is supposed to represent 🙄🙄
— Sadie Cordova (@sadieladie44) May 12, 2019
Even YouTuber Tyler Oakley weighed in, adding “LGBTQ*I*A+” to infer that James believes the “I” stands for influencer, as opposed to intersex.
— tyler oakley (@tyleroakley) May 7, 2019
James Charles vs. the Trans Community
James’ statement about marginalization is only the beginning…
Just recently, James issued a public apology for implying that transgender men aren’t “real” men in one of his videos. The questionable discussion begins around 7:40.
Several people were to quick to remind others on social media about James’ past transgressions.
james charles invalidating my existence by saying he's not all gay cuz he's dated trans men only just solidified how much i hate his annoying presence in my life
— 𝖘𝖍𝖆𝖗𝖐 𝖇𝖆𝖎𝖙 🦈 (@grimvampiro) May 12, 2019
y’all really “canceling” james charles now? he’s been over since he said trans men aren’t real men but ok
— baja blast (@peaxhyyy) May 11, 2019
There’s question of why Tati’s video lead to the sudden canceling of James Charles when clearly, there’s been cause to cancel James in the past. Talk about problematic fave.
It took y’all this long to cancel James Charles? But not when he was making racist comments and invalidating trans men? oh okay. But good for Tati. She did that. https://t.co/kKISBjhNS7
— b ✊🏾✨ (@blingchaching) May 11, 2019
What comes next?
It’s been three days since Tati dropped her YouTube video and the internet is clamoring for James Charles’ response.
Shane Dawson arriving at the homeless shelter where James Charles now lives to make a docu series on the scandal pic.twitter.com/OZIoGaZcWH
— PARIS HILTON STAN (@parisxcx) May 13, 2019
Me: waiting patiently for Shane’s 8 part documentary on James Charles pic.twitter.com/roROfVOAOG
— Rosa (@Rosa_Mae_55) May 13, 2019
More than one person has dubbed James Charles as the new Logan Paul…
While others have their doubts about Tati’s take entirely.
All these people believing all these stories about James Charles even though the girl who called him out is literally a “make up” YouTuber
— Chrish Team Raycing (@ChrisRGun) May 13, 2019
On Saturday, James posted a tearful 8-minute video to his own page titled “Tati,” in which he admitted “there’s nothing I can say or do to ever earn that friendship or trust back.” Is there more to come?
More than anything, this feud has confirmed some startling truths about internet culture. First, it is difficult, if not impossible to erase one’s past actions. Just as we saw with Dramageddon, internet callout culture is on the rise and subscribers/followers are prepared to hold even their favorite celebs accountable for their actions, especially when they are public figures and role models to young people.
Secondly, there is a unspoken “threshold” for forgiveness online, especially when it comes to celebrities. Black Twitter and many LGBTQ+ influencers were quick to point out that only after a wealthy, Caucasian woman, Tati Westbrook, called out James, did so many of his followers abandon him.
Black people: "James Charles is trash."
White people: "He's just a kid."
Trans people: "James Charles is trash."
White people: "He's just a kid."
Tati, A White Woman: "James Charles is trash."
White people: "Well, I guess James Charles is trash."
— Hillary Monahan – Short Hiatus (@HillaryMonahan) May 12, 2019
Finally, while some bloggers including Gabby Zamora and Jeffree Star have actually benefited from drama and the exposure of their comments, that doesn’t seem to be the case for James Charles. Whether James’ fans choose to forgive and forget in the near future, as fans have done with many celebrities before him, remains to be seen.