In case you didn’t know, James Charles is a YouTuber turned mainstream celebrity. He is a 20- year-old man who creates online makeup tutorials, posts online singing videos, and promotes his self-made merchandise all over his social media.
He is more than just a successful internet personality; he is a successful and powerful mini-mogul. He uses the power of branding to his advantage, even coining the term ‘Sister’ as a way to address others and as a form of witty alliteration. He is the creative mastermind behind his many projects, and he is confident in what he creates.
And, if you also didn’t know, Charles is as scandalous as he is successful. From his emergence on YouTube as a talented creator in 2015, Charles has been hit with scandal after scandal.
When he was 18 years old, Charles came under fire for racist and insensitive remarks amidst the Ebola crisis. He sent out a since-deleted tweet joking about catching Ebola from people in Africa in anticipation of his trip to the continent. This tweet sparked major backlash for its clear racism and ill-timed publication when people were legitimately dying of the illness.
Just one month later, a fellow YouTuber released screenshots showing that Charles had staged a social media post regarding his senior portraits. Notable, because this post acted as a sort of ‘origin story’ for Charles and brought him widespread recognition.
Even in May 2019, he was involved in a scandal with fellow YouTuber Tati Westbrook who publicly ended their friendship by revealing serious issues with Charles’ humility and integrity.
Now, in July 2019, Charles finds himself in the midst of another scandal. An old friend came forward and released screenshots of Facebook messages between himself and Charles. In them, Charles very explicitly talks about his attraction to another male YouTuber.
Even worse, there are screenshots of Charles making hateful comments against a young disabled fan who he spoke with at a meet and greet. In the text conversation, Charles allegedly complains that a disabled kid in a wheelchair with a speech impediment ruined his chance to flirt with an attractive male fan.
He continued to name call the young fan and eventually referenced the idea that the fan should just go back to the special Olympics.
It is important to note that these screenshots have not officially been confirmed to be authentic by Charles’ team, but many online news channels have been reporting on the screenshots and attest to their validity.
The alleged comments in the leaked screenshots are nothing short of reprehensible, but is James Charles really even in trouble? Aside from coverage by a few online news YouTube channels, the public backlash has been minimal.
Scandal after scandal, Charles has emerged relatively unscathed from a business and celebrity perspective. Sure, the public has turned against him, he’s received thousands of hate comments, and temporarily lost subscribers, but he never truly succumbed to his scandals and it doesn’t look like he is going to be too affected by this one, either.
Of course, there is always the argument that the screenshots may not be 100% authentic, but is this not worth looking into? And, if it is easy to prove that the screenshots are falsified, wouldn’t it be easy for Charles and his team to make a quick statement saying this?
It seems like, once again, Charles will be excused for clear bad behaviour, this time without even having to defend himself.
His big celebrity status is a contributing factor, but his age is probably a larger factor for the lack of tangible consequences that he faces. For every scandal, he finds himself in the middle of, he posts a long tweet or short video talking about how young he was when the instances in question arose. He blames his poor judgment, hateful speech, and bad behaviour on not being a fully developed adult yet.
Similar to his other scandals, this handicap scandal occurred several years in the past when he was newly an adult.
But, is the world going to keep accepting this as an excuse? Scandal after scandal it’s becoming clear that Charles’ issues are less youthful missteps and more manifestations of who he is as a person. If he keeps escaping consequences for past actions can he really claim that he’s changed and grown and learned from his mistakes?
Hopefully, Charles is privately reevaluating his past behaviour and making a plan to approach his life and success with more respect, honesty, humility, and integrity in the future.