Graphics: JAMES CHARLES-Zoe
Is becoming famous all it’s cracked up to be?
Social media can be a powerful tool when used correctly. Having a platform and becoming an influencer is a new concept with the birth of social media. Gaining millions of followers, having the “perfect” persona and living a luxurious life is something that anyone could envy. Influencers look like they have the perfect life on the internet, but in real life, they can be dangerous and predatory.
James Charles, the 21-year-old beauty YouTuber, rose to fame in 2016 after becoming the first male ambassador for the CoverGirl makeup company. With more than 25 million subscribers on YouTube and more than 27 million followers on Instagram, Charles’ posts consist of makeup tutorials, challenges and collaborations with celebrities. This massive following on social media allowed him to launch his Sister’s Apparel merchandise and cosmetic line with Morphe, a popular makeup brand in late 2018.
As recently as April, Charles has been accused of predatory behavior toward underage boys online. In February, the first accuser, a 16-year-old boy who goes by Isaiyah, stepped forward on the popular social media platform, TikTok, and stated that Charles privately messaged him nude photos and asked for pictures in return. The first accuser felt uncomfortable with the situation and posted the message receipts on TikTok. The video was taken down due to violating guidelines.
Isaiyah, who goes by @Isaiyah13 on TikTok, then tweeted his response to the videos stating, “James we both know I blocked you, you never asked for my age. After I told you I was 16 you proceeded to ask me for nudes and said it didn’t matter. You called me hot and said ‘I wish the timeline could speed up so you can be 18.’”
After the first accuser came out, three more boys under the age of 18 called out Charles for grooming them online. The new reports surfaced once again on TikTok but were immediately reported. The videos depicted Snapchat messages similar to the ones the first accuser released. Charles then trolled the boys in their comment sections for lying about their ages when he first messaged them. It is still unknown how many victims are out there.
On April 1, Charles released an official apology video to the accusations titled “holding myself accountable.” With almost 7.5 million views, Charles talks in a quiet, hushed voice, unlike his booming personality, and addresses two of the claims against him.
“I owe a massive apology to anyone that I’ve hurt or anybody that I’ve made uncomfortable with my actions,” Charles said in his video. “I also want to say I’m sorry to my friends, family and fans who have to watch any other one of these videos because you shouldn’t have to. This is really embarrassing.”
The statement claiming that Charles’ situation is “embarrassing” shows how unapologetic he really is. The video feels to have a more sympathetic tone toward the creator, instead of the victims that he hurt. Charles’ quick apology led to an outrageous statement concerning his reasoning for the situation.
“I finally came to a conclusion,” Charles stated. “It sucks and it’s ridiculously embarrassing to admit this, but I think I have to; I’m desperate.”
Desperation should not lead someone to target underage children, nothing should. That is truly predatory behavior.
“I do understand that with these videos coming to light, it’s really looking like I’m actively searching for younger people to be in a relationship with,” Charles claims. “I want to say first hand, that it is absolutely not the case.”
This statement made by Charles is contradictory to a comment he made on the popular influencer, Jake Paul’s podcast “Impaulsive” last July. Charles stated, “I’m not physically attracted to older guys, which sucks. I’d date the absolute youngest, 18 or 19 that looks a little bit older.”
The evidence against Charles hasn’t made big news, besides pop culture and celebrity drama websites. Morphe, the company with which he partnered for his cosmetic line, has not issued a statement to condemn Charles’s actions and repeated behavior.
However, the “H3 Podcast,” hosted by YouTuber Ethan Kline, and the “Fremenies” podcast, hosted by Kline and social media influencer Trisha Paytas, have been active voices of concern within the YouTube and TikTok communities. The “H3 Podcast” channel on YouTube alone has four videos, each spanning almost two hours, dedicated to Charles’ predatory behavior and calling him out on his actions.
“This is a predator who has successfully manipulated his fans who are incapable of critical thought because they are too young,” Kline stated on his podcast April 2. “He should not have a career. He should not have a YouTube channel. He should not have social media. He should be in jail and kicked off the internet.”
Kline, a strong opposer of Charles, even went as far as to state, “It’s a pandemic of sorts. We’ve got the James Charles pandemic of 2021.”
It goes without being said, influencers who use their platforms to do more harm than good should not be allowed on social media. Charles should be banned from social media. His predatory behavior should not be allowed to continue. It has gone on for too long.
“You can get on camera and upload an apology video while you say sorry a million times all day long, but the only way to show and prove that you are sorry is through action and change. I am going to change,” concluded Charles in his apology video.
Hopefully, his promise is kept.