It’s the blogger spat that has the internet buzzing — but we’ve all missed something in Tati Westbrook and James Charles’ feud, and it changes everything.
If you’re under 35 and on the internet, it’s likely half the tabs on your browser are laser-focused onto the YouTube beauty world’s version of the Game of Thrones: The fight between James Charles and Tati Westbrook.
Maybe, just maybe, there’s something a bit messed up about Westbrook, a 37-year-old professional woman — someone you’d presume had no shortage of life experience and maturity — obliterating the reputation and livelihood of a 19-year-old because her feelings were hurt.
And maybe this massively influential community needs to realise that its intrinsic bullying problem is beginning to make the beauty world look very, very ugly.
If you’ve only just pulled up a pew at the Colosseum, here’s exactly what the lions have been doing to James Charles.
Following Westbrook’s video, which was titled “Bye Sister!”, Charles has lost a total — at time of writing — of 2.5 million followers on his eponymous YouTube channel.
The video, which has so far been viewed an unbelievable 42.7 million times, accused him of promoting a vitamin brand that rivalled one she puts her name to as well as making inappropriate sexual advances towards straight men.
Charles’ merchandise line, which is distributed by YouTuber and Westbrook ally Jeffree Star, has been withdrawn from sale.
His worldwide promo tour, which is currently in Australia, seem to have ground to a halt, with James appearing to have gone into hiding. Until this afternoon when he was reportedly spotted flying out of Australia and back to L.A, he hasn’t been seen since his Gold Coast meet-and-greet on Saturday.
Former fans are even gleefully burning or hammering his branded James Charles makeup palette.
Charles has been called a pretender and a prima donna.
Others have said worse.
That’s a hell of a lot to hurl at a 19-year-old who has made a handful of dumb, classically teenage mistakes while trying to navigate the treacherous world of online celebrity and its vicious and venomous cancel culture.
As the saga marches on, fans are beginning to wonder exactly what Westbrook stood to gain from causing the mass-cancellation of Charles. After all, she’s suddenly everywhere; for every subscriber Charles has lost, she’s gained two.
There’s no question that in the online world, pettiness pays.
You could argue that this is karma. James Charles is paid, according to Social Blade, anywhere between $40,000 and $600,000 per YouTube video. And he’s not earning that because he’s handy with a blending brush.
Like most big name YouTube stars, most of his fame comes from documenting the daily drama that comes with being young, dumb, famous and beautiful and moving in circles of people who are all those things as well.
The feuds, the bitchiness, the tea spillage is what really attracts the eyeballs. He’s done plenty of it himself, playing his own part in destroying competitors from Kat Von D to Laura Lee.
It’s difficult to feel too sorry for them; you make your mark, you make your millions, accept your fate.
But generally, the older, OG YouTubers like Tati Westbrook stay away from the nastiness. And you’d hope that they’d use their maturity and stature to inspire their younger counterparts to be better online, not treat their corners of the internet like a schoolyard.
But now Westbrook has proven that she’s just as bad as the rest of them. And it begs the question, when is this going to stop? What’s it going to take for this online community to pay more attention to the ugly example it’s setting for its younger audience?
Alex Carlton is a freelance writer. Continue the conversation @Alex_Carlton