Recently, many YouTubers have made “comebacks” to the platform after encountering controversies and allegations of misconduct. Examples include David Dobrik, Tati Westbrook and, perhaps most infamously, James Charles.
With almost 25 million subscribers, James Charles has one of the most popular channels on the video-sharing website. Since going viral in 2016, the California-based creator has filmed himself giving makeup tutorials to his subscribers and participating in cosmetics-related challenges.
However, social media users have been calling out the makeup artist for his inappropriate contact with minors for quite a while now.
The Timeline of Events
In late February, 16-year-old Isaiyah published a TikTok that detailed his interactions with Charles. The young creator shared screenshots of Snapchat messages from the internet celebrity that had asked him to show off his naked body, even after being told “No.” The teenager also provided proof that Charles sent a nude photo of himself, which TikTok removed from its site.
In response, Charles posted a statement to his 7.7 million Twitter followers that denied the accusation. In his announcement, Charles claimed that Isaiyah did not initially disclose his actual age during their conversations.
“Last week, I came across someone on my Instagram explore page, saw he followed me and added him on Snapchat,” the influencer asserted. “The next morning, I woke up to several snaps from this person being excited I added him back, saying he loved me and also lewd photos of himself in the shower.”
Isaiyah issued a reply, writing: “James, we both know I blocked you, you never asked for my age.” Moreover, he posted proof that his social media profile clearly stated that he was 16 years old.
Sometime after Charles posted his statement, four more alleged victims spoke out. One complaint involved a 15-year-old boy, who the social media personality seemingly accused of lying about his age. Furthermore, Charles became upset with him for sharing evidence — “receipts” — of their conversation publicly.
On April 1, Charles uploaded a video to his YouTube channel titled “holding myself accountable.”
“These conversations should’ve never happened, point-blank, period. There is no excuse for it, there is no ifs, ands or buts and I take full responsibility for that,” the content creator said.
In the wake of Charles’ apology, over 15 people have declared that he approached them sexually and groomed them. Most of the testimonies circulated on TikTok and Twitter.
On April 16, due to mounting public pressure, the popular makeup brand Morphe parted ways with Charles. Charles released a statement that both responded to the news and acted as a blanket denial of all the claims — besides the two he confirmed in his apology video — raised against him.
“Since posting that video, many other people have come forward with a series of misleading stories and false allegations which have been reported on by many people, creators and news outlets,” Charles wrote.
In early July, the YouTuber officially began his comeback campaign by posting a video titled “An Open Conversation” on YouTube and privating his previous confession. Charles spoke about the supposed reflection he had done since stepping away from YouTube in April. More notably, he made some bold, contradictory proclamations during his discussion.
“I do feel that I have to say something because I am just not comfortable with this video, or any video moving forward, allowing anybody — let alone my followers — to think that there are any victims of James Charles.”
Just two weeks ago, the beauty influencer enraged social media users after posting a now-deleted photo targeted toward Purpled, a 17-year-old Minecraft YouTuber and Twitch streamer. In the photograph, Charles displayed himself in a bathrobe while watching the young broadcaster “playing bedwars to keep [him] entertained.”
The Reactions to Charles’ Return
Many denounced YouTube vlogger’s swift return and criticized other individuals who defended his actions.
Twitter user @shannbon stated, “Y’all wanna say cancel culture ruins lives when james charles (a predator who cant stop talking to minors!!!!) can upload a video and get almost half a million views, 66k likes and 3.3k dislikes.. literally where is cancel culture?”
Another user, @DammitShane, asked, “Can we just throw James Charles away?”
Similarly, @yourspacecowgirl tweeted, “James Charles deserves no sympathy. He abused his status, his audience is made up of mainly younger/preteens. He’s f—ing gross. The situation is f—ing gross, the fact that people are accepting an ‘apology’ that isn’t their place to accept and forgive, it’s giving ped* vibes.”
The creator, however, has not just experienced backlash on Twitter.
Commentary YouTuber Smokey Glow made a video about the situation, articulating that she found it quite disheartening that Charles came back to the media platform after admitting to such indecency. She described the beauty vlogger’s resurgence as a “sickening pill to swallow,” especially for a woman who is a survivor of sexual assault.
The Harsh Reality
Ethical dilemmas necessarily pop up when individuals come forward and share stories of sexual misconduct. Although journalists and commentators want to believe and support victims, they also fear those who construct false narratives to garner attention or entertain themselves. Thus, one must approach these incidents, including Charles’, with caution and tact.
Nonetheless, any trepidation goes out the window once you remember that he confessed to sending inappropriate, flirtatious messages to two minors.
In both of his videos, Charles continually emphasized to viewers that his accusers lied to him about their ages. The makeup artist fails to realize that this talking point does not truly matter in the grand scheme of things.
For one, the law does not care about minors faking their ages in regard to sexual encounters. Even though they might face lesser consequences, the older parties are the ones who should worry about potentially running into criminal charges.
Secondly, two instances of flirting with young boys through direct messages are simply two times too many. If Charles had only committed the misdeed once, then arguably, that could potentially change the story, but this has happened multiple times.
The content creator can revise history and delete evidence as much as he wants, but that does not change anything. Other YouTubers have immortalized Charles’ admission of guilt, and his disregard for the other side’s well-being has caused enough damage.
Although a handful of teenagers have alleged sexual misconduct at the hands of the celebrity, Charles still attempted to victimize himself in his two controversial videos. While begrudgingly watching Charles’ posts, I quickly noticed that he spoke at length about how the state of affairs has affected him.
“This has been the worst but most important wake-up call of my entire life for a lot of different reasons and this is by far the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to me,” the influencer stated.
By focusing almost entirely on himself, Charles failed to address how his immoral behavior harmed his young fans. As a result of the content creator’s wrongdoings, these children will likely have skewed perspectives of healthy relationships in the future.
I share the same sentiments as Smokey Glow. Witnessing Charles escape from this situation scot-free and continue shamelessly interacting with kids online feels dreadful. In my opinion, he maintains his communication with teenage boys not only to fulfill a sense of personal gratification but to broadcast that he can act with impunity.
Even though Charles’ accusers have not received justice, the internet can hopefully serve as the body that holds him accountable; the mass condemnation of the public figure cannot let up any time soon.
Eventually, Charles must come face-to-face with a reckoning of his own.