Jeffree Star’s Apology Video Has Only Made Things Worse
Jeffree Star, the formidable YouTube beauty guru accused of manipulative and racist behavior by his peers, only created a bigger mess this weekend when he attempted to quell the controversy. While his new video, titled “Doing What’s Right,” was purportedly in response to fellow YouTuber Tati Westbrook’s video “Breaking My Silence…” he neglected to seriously address any of the accusations she raised, including that he and similarly-notorious creator Shane Dawson turned her against makeup guru James Charles with false accusations of sexual misconduct. Instead, he referenced the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement while perched on a large gold couch wearing Louis Vuitton slippers.
It did not go over well. The video failed to provide any actual links or resources fans could use to support his calls for justice, prompting many to accuse the creator of exploiting the movement to dodge accountability.
How did we get here? It’s a long, complicated story. In June, Westbrook revived a 2019 feud between her and Charles when she claimed that she only made her initial, now-deleted video accusing Charles of inappropriate behavior last year after being misled by Dawson and Star. She claims the pair, who are good friends and frequent collaborators, told her they had evidence of looming accusations of predatory behavior against Charles and encouraged her to make the video to get ahead of it. These claims never emerged, but the damage had been done. Only recently did the two reconnect and begin piecing together the fragments of Dawson and and Star’s alleged manipulation.
Westbrook’s accusation that she was misled brought Star’s long history of problematic behavior—including repeated use of racial slurs and offensive language, culturally appropriative beauty looks, and a litany of creator drama—back into the spotlight. This prompted makeup retail giant Morphe to drop their partnership with Star. His response to the backlash was long-awaited. But fans were ultimately disappointed when he used the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Black trans women, and Elijah McClain (a name he appears to have dubbed over, after presumably pronouncing it incorrectly in the original video) as shields, encouraging people to ignore his behavior to instead focus on justice for them—without providing a single link to any donations or petitions with which his followers could do so.
“This man did not just use Breonna Taylor and Elijah McClain to deflect from his perpetuation of racism and defense of a pedophile,” one viewer wrote on Twitter. “I hate it here.”
Jeffree Star did not just mention Breonna Taylor in his video while sticking up for Shane Dawson in the same breath...— Max and her little crew (@MaxposedYT) July 18, 2020
The systematic killing of Black people by the police is clearly much more important than drama stemming from makeup palettes. But Star used that as a convenient out, rather than a legitimate issue that he could have easily directed his 17.5 million followers to engage with via a link. It’s something TikTok creator Charli D’Amelio took advantage of during her brief public feud with ex Chase Hudson, punctuating her now-deleted tweets at the fellow TikTok star with links to petitions and donation sites for Black Lives Matter when she knew all eyes were on her account.