Have you been following the Tati Westbrook James Charles Drama? Even if you don’t watch youtubers, this has been all over the mainstreem news over the past two days. I’ve seen the headlines on CNN and CTV. Why? Because it’s trending and the internet is very interested in it. It makes good business sense to post about it. Plus, it’s drama and we all have our celebrities that we hate watch and cannot tear ourselves away from. This is dopamine on steroids for any avid celebrity gossip follower or casual pop culture browser.
I don’t follow either of these two youtubers as a fan (or stans as the youth are calling it). I have watched some of Tati Westbrooks videos and I know of James Charles periferally as the face of covergirl. I’ve mostly caught up with Tati’s content whenever there is Beauty Guru Drama.
There is a huge feud between Tati and her former little buddy, mentee and fellow youtuber James Charles. Tati posted this 43 minute video titled ‘Bye Sister…’. It was scathing, but measured and very oportunistic. Can you really be a mentor/mentee in a competitive relationship? Are you really the mentor if your mentee has surpased you in your respective career tragectories? Can you be a mentor if you are just angling for free press for yourself?
James Charles took a business opportunity and posted an ad for a SugarBear Sleeping supplement back in April. This really offended Tati becuse she has a brand of subscription based hair supplements called Halo Beauty and she views Sugarbear as her competition. Tati’s expectation was that James would support her business, and recognize the conflict. Taking a look at the SugarBear website I can easily see that the esthetics of SugarBear lines up perfectly with James Charles and his fan base. It’s camp. Insidentally, ‘Camp’ was the theme of the Met Gala that James Charles was invited to. Looking at the ingredients, the SugarBear sleep supplement has a pretty comprensive list of effective actives. Halo Beauty sques older and has more glam vibe than camp vibe.
It seems Tati had an unspoken expectation that James Charles not take on paid partnerships that conflict with her brand after he turned down her request for exposure on his chanel. There was no non compete clause in their friendship contract as far as I can tell. According to Tati’s video, James previously declined promoting her brand as a friendship favour on the basis that he felt it was inaproriate to promote supplements to his young fan base. This was his prerogative.
James Charles has been known to be a problematic character. Despite this, Tati has supported his brand up until now, even when he made comments about fearing ebola on a trip to Africa. Tati ignored his racist comments (as she has numerous times with Jefree Star). She seemed to tolerate it all just fine over the years. The timing of Tatis Bye Sister Video is suspect coming after the Met Gala where James Charles had been an invited guest, and not immediately following the SugarBear Supplement campaign. Only after his star rose to another level did she get really angry and feel the need to take him down a notch. There was no need for this video to have gone up as the world did not need an explanation as to why she’s cancelling James Charles as her friend.
Tati needed to align herself with the James Charles brand and his young audience to bolster up her brand. She’s in business building mode because she launched her vitamin brand. Tati aligned herself with him because it was of interest to her, and she accepted his notorious vulgar persona as she does Jefree Stars vulgar persona. She wanted to have access to his demographic in addition to the demographic she had acquired for herself. Their friendship was no accident.
Her language during the video regarding his sexuality really highlights her true feelings. It’s hard to believe she didn’t notice this hyper promiscuity early on (also who cares about that) or his vulgar manner of speaking. He’s only emulating Jeffree Star which she holds on a pedestal. I don’t believe he suddenly crossed a line at the very same time this conflict arose which she then had to take a stand against.
Tati alleges that James Charles hit on straight men in an attempt to turn their sexuality. That is a pretty loaded statement. Tati doesn’t elaborate on wether these are consenting adults, or if they are underage. She doesn’t say wether they where unable to consent at her birthday party, she doesn’t share if they where employed by him or her or if somehow and there was a power dynamic. She says that he is 19 and she is afraid of him. Has he been violent towards her? In light of other youtubers accused of asking underage fans for explicit photos, these are allegations that must be taken extremely seriously. This is not a time to vaguebook or confuse the issue.
Perhaps the behaviour has been happening all along and she was ok with it then. I hope what she is insinuating is not true at all. It seems plausible because he does have a reputation which is referenced by other youtubers. I question her motives in sharing that particular detail now on a youtube video. It seems more that she’s weaponizing his sexuality against him because she is mad, not because what he did was wrong. She knew there would be outrage to that angle.
No, she should not protect his image if he’s a predator, but she may have spoken out much sooner without distracting from that bigger issue with the business issue. That allegation is very serious and should have stood alone as a reason to distance herself from him. If she truely saw predatory behaviour, she should have contacted the authorities immediately.
She is using #metoo sentiments to insinuate criminality in the same video she’s talking about the business transgressions. She’s not just telling us that she’s not friends with him anymore, she’s demanding he be cancelled. It’s James’s very self expression that created his celebrity persona with which she wanted to latch on to to bolster her own image. It’s his own talent that built his brand.
Who she is, and who she wants the world to think she is are two very different things. Externally she is showing the world how hip and young she is, but there is congnitive dissonance there and to me that stands out. I believe James Charles was emulating Jeffree Star with his behaviour and cultivating the same type of outragious, hypersexed, vulgar persona. Tati is cool with the Jeffree Star version of that persona. Tati would never dare to speak out against Jeffree Star if he ever did her wrong. That is the power balance we need to recognize.
While I don’t support James Charles because of his prior icky and problematic behaviour, I really find it disingenuous for Tati to have posted the video claiming this was a mentor/mentee relationship. It’s all besides the point of her video which was, James Charles disrespected her and he owes everything to her. By the way, she made sure to loft an insult to his mother insinuating she should be in LA, to keep him out of trouble. Throughout the video Tati shares how her and her husband took on a parent role with him, and that he somtimes called them mom and dad. When your kids disapoint you with bad behaviour, you don’t blast them publicly and destroy them. If the problem is serious, you get them serious help. Above all, you make sure everyone is ok.
Tati as an adult business woman in her late 30’s. She has the ear of her husband who is a talent manager that understands leveraging relationships, and had full advantage and leverage over James Charles. Because her husband did not take James Charles on as a client, there was no conflict burden for him. They where both free to manipulate James Charles to their own ends. It’s not generousity when you demand something in return and burn the house down when you don’t get it.
Tati mentions on her video how important her role as a 30 year old in the beauty industry is, so why doesn’t she lean into that roll more instead of leaning into the James Charles, Jeffree Star community so much? Why does she need 19 year old friends? Tati could be proping up (or be mutually propped up by) other over 30 youtubers like Hot and Flashy (love her!), Caroline Hirons, Lisa Eldridge, or Wayne Goss. Her brand would resonate more with me as a 39 year old if she did have more of those collaborations and aliances.Thats more of a contemporary, mutual relationship, isn’t it? No, she’s playing in a different playground. She’s busy chasing cliques, popularity and fame.
James Charles is a young up and coming 19 year old celebrity being courted by brands and the fashion industry the same way the Kardashians have been courted and legitamized. As a result of the Bye Sister video, James Charles has lost millions of followers. Tati has gained millions. Tati’s video is monetized and will earn more than $30,000 in ad placements. Tati links to Halo Beauty below her video and directs traffic to the Halo Beauty website.
The Sugarbear campaign didn’t hurt Halo Beauty. On the contrary, this provided an oportunity for Halo Beauty. Tati got free exposure from millions of viewers outside of her own audience all over CNN, CTV and other mainstream media outlets. At most, Tati’s ego hurt because she felt entitled to his audience base and she didn’t get it willingly. She repeatedly states how embarrasing this is to her and she feels ritious in her anger. Jamse Charles was hurt for not promoting Tati. This is when the relationship soured. In other words, Tati felt entitled to James Charles audience base because of their friendship and when she didn’t get it freely she took it by force. The entire public scandal and escalation was completely unessasary and very vindictive.
What do you guys think? Do you support Tati’s video? Do you support James Charles?