Over 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, with over 23 million YouTube channels out there. There’s so much content on the platform, yet we still become obsessed with certain YouTubers and the drama within their lives. We all know the Jake Paul’s infamous “It’s Everyday Bro” and the drama that came with it. In early 2018, it was hard to even open YouTube without hearing more about Logan Paul’s Suicide Forest video. PewDiePie has been labelled as racist, Tana Mongeau created the awful TanaCon, and Ricegum belittled a rape victim’s experiences. Whenever there’s drama or controversy involving YouTubers, the YouTube world implodes.
Over the last few years, this YouTube drama has spread into everyday conversations and mainstream media outlets, making us stop in our tracks to watch the disaster unfold. So, why are we so obsessed with YouTube drama? And why does this online controversy matter in the real world?
Let’s talk about some recent YouTube drama, and why it matters.
James Charles v Tati
If you haven’t heard about the James Charles YouTube drama yet, you might be living under a rock. Basically, James Charles and Tati Westbrook (another beauty YouTuber) were great friends – Tati even helped launch James’s career. Tati released a 43-minute video on May 10th titled “BYE SISTER”. Here’s the rundown:
- Tati started her own Vitamin company, Halo Beauty.
- James said he wouldn’t promote Halo Beauty because his fans are so young.
- Coachella comes along, and James starts promoting Tati’s competitor – Sugar Bear Hair. Tati claims this has been thought up weeks in advance.
- Tati claims that James is a predator who only hits on straight men (and he tries to make them confused, making them doubt their sexuality).
- An example of this: At Tati’s birthday dinner, James was hitting on the waiter. Tati explains he is straight and James says “doesn’t matter, I’m a celebrity.”
After this video was released, another beauty YouTuber, Jeffree Star (with his own problematic and racist background) started agreeing with Tati, claiming to have “receipts” and general evidence to support Tati’s claims. Some fans came forward alleging to have interactions with James in which he tried to take advantage of them and their friends.
On May 18th, James Charles released a 42-minute video responding to Tati’s claims. With screenshots of messages and other evidence, James basically shuts Tati’s entire video down. Here’s the TLDR of that video:
- James only promoted Sugar Bear Hair because he was having troubles while at Coachella and they could help him out.
- The promotion was NOT planned in advance.
- He reached out to Tati immediately to address this issue (not 9 days later like Tati claimed).
- James shows videos of him promoting her brand.
- James says he’s a 19-year-old virgin and says he does not manipulate men for sex.
- He explains that the “I’m a celebrity” thing is just an ongoing joke.
- The waiter and James did have somewhat of a relationship – but it was completely consensual, the waiter even reached out to James saying he was bi.
It’s all a lot more complex than that, but those are just the main points. Since the video has been released, Tati has removed her own video, many fans have stepped down from their claims, and Jeffree Star has stepped back too.
Initially, this was a reminder of the abuse of power that many people experience every day. It was a story about someone using their fame to manipulate their fans to conform to their expectations. Since James released his video explaining the situation, it’s become a story about not believing everything you see online.
Jared “ProJared” Knabenbauer is an American YouTuber who peaked at 1,033,000 subscribers. On May 9th, he posted publicly on Twitter stating that he and his wife Heidi O’Ferrall were getting a divorce. O’Ferrall then posted on her own Twitter, claiming that Knabenbauer had been cheating on her with Holly Conrad – another YouTuber. O’Ferrall also alleged that Knabenbauer had been sending and soliciting nudes from his fans, using Tumblr and Snapchat (see below).
After these allegations came out, fans from across the globe came forward to share their experiences with Knabenbauer. He had asked many fans (some of which were underage, as he knew) for nude photographs, sending photographs of his own (see below). Knabenbauer has not responded to the allegations. The ProJared subreddit has since shut down, and Knabenbauer has lost over 246,000 subscribers since this controversy began.
Needless to say, soliciting nude photographs from underage fans is messed up. ProJared used his power and relative fame to take advantage of fans for several years. This is a wake-up call. We live in a world of social media, and now regular people have the opportunity to interact with some of their favourite YouTubers or celebrities. Unfortunately, the ProJared controversy shows that these platforms can also be taken advantage of.
So why does the world stop whenever there is YouTube drama?
Many of us have spent the last 10 years on YouTube. The people we watch everyday have become a huge part of our lives. We see them on Instagram and Twitter, too, interacting with fans and sharing stories of their lives. YouTubers have become a huge part of our society, with many people looking up to these influential figures. Whenever something big and important happens, it doesn’t just effect those involved, but it effects the fans too.
What originally comes off as “petty drama” can quickly turn into serious allegations, as these two stories have shown. ProJared used his fame to manipulate people (some of which were underage) into sending sexual images to him. According to the (now debunked) rumours, James Charles did the same thing. These stories are in the public eye, and should be used as a reminder for the abuse of power that we don’t see. At the same time, this should serve as a reminder to not trust everything you read online.
We live in a world filled with social media which makes interacting with your favourite influencers even easier. These cases (and a lot of other YouTube drama, too) shows that these people are not perfect. They are capable of bad things. Be careful and be cautious, because not every person on the internet has your best interests in mind.