Recently there was a situation that became very high profile in the YouTube community. Vlogger Tati Westbrook made a video on her YouTube channel entitled Bye Sister … which insinuated that fellow vlogger James Charles was predatory towards straight men and men who were trying to figure out their sexuality. While the situation began from a disagreement over Charles promoting a rival vitamin brand to Westbrook’s and her husband’s vitamin brand, it soon turned into a very serious matter.
Videos appeared on the internet from various men who claimed Charles was predatory towards them and fellow vlogger Jeffree Star spoke about Charles being ‘a danger to society’ while various gossip channels on YouTube and media jumped on the band wagon. A social media account even made up a story about Charles touching a boy sexually in a bathroom when he was in school. The latter was later found out to be false. What ensued from all of this was a huge drop in Charles’ YouTube followers and a toxic and overwhelming amount of bullying and trolling online which quite frankly was disgusting. Added into this bullying and trolling was a live video on YouTube detailing the drop in Charles’ followers and the rise in Westbrook’s followers with even more space at the side for live comments filled with hate for Charles and hate towards many of the comments from the minority of supporters of Charles.
This whole thing blew up very fast. My reporter’s brain (and my humane brain) said to me that I had to look into this in an objective way so I looked at the videos to see what all this was about. And I realized that there was nothing concrete in any of it. Nothing to suggest Charles was a predator at all. There was a lot of people saying things but nothing was adding up and I learned that all this hate was coming from people taking what people said at face value. The idea of ruining someone’s career and more importantly their character based on he said and she said stuff didn’t sit well with me.
I am very strongly against predatory behavior and sexual harassment but I am equally against peoples’ lives being ruined based on vicious lies and half truths. There is no harm when you don’t know any of the people involved in a situation personally to look at things from an objective standpoint. It doesn’t make you a bad person because you don’t instantly believe the claims being made against a person. It makes you a fair person and being a fair person is being a good person. I say this because throughout this whole situation even to question things was instantly seen as equal to being a monster who was ok with predatory behavior and sexual harassment and who was disbelieving of all victims of either of the aforementioned.
I have faced predatory behavior and sexual harassment in my life and something was just not ringing true about the claims for me from very early on. There did seem to be a milking of the situation for YouTube views and attention. When you face those things, you feel intimidated by that person and you have two options: you go to the police or you make the very difficult decision (often based on circumstances) to let it go. There isn’t an option 3 which says ‘I won’t involve the police but I’ll go on YouTube’. And if you were to go on YouTube and talk about your experiences the last thing you would do is say the person’s name because you’re intimidated by them. As someone who has faced this, I was very upset to see something so serious being put out there as ‘drama’ and like an unfolding entertainment saga. When you face it, it is very, very frightening and extremely demeaning.
Did I say anything at the time openly that I actually supported James in the situation? No. And the reason for that was I was a coward. I seen the level of hate supporters faced where their whole personality and integrity was been called into question because they didn’t go along with the party line and jump on the ‘James Charles is cancelled’ band wagon. But thankfully the hate has shimmered down a little bit and I feel I can be open about what I feel because there is a lot this situation says about our society. It has showed that we are very quick to judge people when we don’t know all the facts and that so many of us are so bored that we jump on word of mouth and troll and bully somebody without thinking of the effect that might have on the human being in question and then we wonder why so many peoples’ mental health is bad. One of the main reasons is that so many people are always looking for the negative in another person and any shred of misinformation is like gold dust to them. Is it because it makes us feel better about ourselves? Is it because we’re looking for a ‘soap opera’ in our lives? I’m not perfect. I love a bit of gossip as much as the next person but ‘These two people are secretly a couple’ is very different from ‘This man is a sexual predator’. There is lines and boundaries that we probably shouldn’t cross in our pursuit of entertainment and gossip because these things have huge impact on peoples’ lives and the lives of the people who love and care for them.
These are very serious allegations that have been made against James. I’m going to be honest and blunt about this: I do not believe the allegations. That might not be the most popular thing in the world to say but there it is. People will have different opinions and that is fair enough but there is a way of expressing those opinions and in this whole situation in my opinion a lot of people have not expressed those opinions very well. It has become a bullying, trolling and quite frankly cruel exercise altogether which are the traits as a society I believe most of us are trying to get away from. There has also been a very dangerous element in our society exposed here: we quickly believe and destroy people based on what other people say and nothing more. There is a lot of people very nervous about things like this being said about them and with good reason because when an allegation like this is made there is many people who won’t look at it objectively and form an opinion, they will just take it at face value and that is a dangerous culture that we are creating because even let’s leave this situation for a moment and talk in general, people in life have grudges against people and many people will use any angle to destroy someone and it’s a good idea to maybe be a bit cynical that not everybody’s intentions are so honest. By all means support genuine victims of these situations when you have looked at the facts but to believe everything everyone says in situations like this so blindly is incredibly dangerous. Unfortunately and I hate to say it but alluding to someone being predatory is becoming a very popular way to destroy someone so by all means support victims but be cautious to not believe everything. Be open to looking at it from both angles before you decide and I think through doing that things would be a lot less toxic.
This has actually been very ugly to see happening on YouTube and the various internet communications and with that in mind, I just want to end this blog post by saying be kind to each other. By all means be honest about what you feel but you can say it in a way that shows that you do remember you are talking to another human being. Most of us are only trying to get through the day and be the best version of ourselves we can be. Do think emotionally but do think objectively when you need to. I promise you that it doesn’t make you a bad person. Quite the opposite actually. Combine the heart and the head and at least for your own conscience you can’t go wrong. Finally, please don’t send hate to anybody in this post. I think there has recently been enough of hate spread around the place to last a lifetime, don’t yous’?