Controversial beauty YouTuber (is there any other kind?) James Charles has officially returned to the Internet, and has already made people very, very mad. Before we get into the latest, let’s briefly recap the events that have led James Charles to his current turmoil: starting with Dramageddon 2.0.

Dramageddon 2 and 3

If we’re going to talk about the trials and tribulations of James Charles, the first place to start must be Dramageddon(s). The utterly exhausting series of events began in May 2019, when fellow beauty YouTuber Tati Westbrook, who was also Charles’ mentor, published a 43-minute-long video titled ‘Bye Sister’. In the video, Westbrook announced the end of their friendship after Charles endorsed a rival company to her brand, Halo Beauty.

Westbrook also put forward many disturbing allegations about Charles – claiming he used his fame to manipulate straight men, made inappropriate sexual comments and was generally an unsafe person. Jeffree Star (of course) chimed in, calling Charles a “danger to society”. The controversy led Charles to lose over 1.7 million subscribers.

James Charles comes to his own defense, and it works

When ‘Bye Sister’ was breaking the internet, James Charles’ first reaction was to quickly release a poorly-received apology video. A week later, Charles took a different tact. In an explosive video entitled ‘No More Lies’, Charles refuted many of the allegations against him, supplying plenty of receipts about his and Tati’s friendship. The video pretty convincingly shut down the accusations in ‘Bye Sister’.

Shane Dawson and Jeffree Star face their own reckoning

As we know, YouTube never sleeps. In the months when Dramageddon 2 was simmering down, Shane Dawson was faced a reckoning of his own that eventually led him to quit the internet – for a while, anyway.

After a year of silence, Tati Westbrook returned to YouTube to again break the internet, this time by claiming that Jeffree Star and Shane Dawson had manipulated her into making ‘Bye Sister’. She apologised about all of the distress the situation caused James Charles, and essentially walked back the grooming allegations. Star also eventually apologised for his part in Dramageddon 2 in a video the internet truly despised. Charles didn’t bite back though, only briefly referring to the drama in a TikTok.

Toward the end of 2020, it was looking like James Charles had come out on top in the beauty YouTube community, despite the many ups and downs.

Disturbing grooming allegations against James Charles are made

James Charles attending a huge party at the peak of a global pandemic! Then got accused of grooming young fans online.

In early March, an underage fan accused Charles of sending him sexual messages and allegedly grooming him. A 16-year-old TikTok user shared a series of videos detailing his interactions with Charles, alleging that he received explicit photos and messages from the beauty influencer. In the TikTok videos, the accuser details an exchange between himself and Charles that took place on Snapchat, including explicit images Charles allegedly sent, and requests that the user send some back. Over time, several young people came forward to claim that they were sent sexually explicit messages from James Charles. One recipient was only 14 at the time he allegedly received these messages.

James Charles’ addresses the grooming allegations for the first time

Charles wrote a response on Twitter about the claims made by one of the first alleged victims, denying he was aware of his age while they were chatting.

“Last week, I came across someone on my Instagram explore page, saw he followed me, and added him on Snapchat,” the statement claimed. “The next morning, I woke up to several snaps from this person being excited I added him back, saying he loved me, and also lewd photos of himself in the shower.”

Charles’ accuser responded to the statement on Twitter, writing, “James we both know I blocked you, you never asked for my age.” He posted screenshots proving that his bio stated he was 16 years old.

Later, James reportedly liked a tweet that tried to discredit his alleged grooming victim.

Charles uploads an apology video

On April 2, Charles uploaded a video to his YouTube channel called ‘holding myself accountable’. “I needed to take accountability for my actions and, most importantly, apologise to the people who were affected by them,” Charles said.

He talks about the situations with a few of the people who came forward with allegations against him “In both of these situations, doing research into these people’s public social media profiles would have revealed their true ages, and therefore these conversations would have never happened in the first place. But I didn’t do the research, and that is what is so embarrassing,” James Charles said in reference to the teenagers who have come forward.

The video ended with Charles promising that something like this would “never ever happen again”.

Morphe and YouTube make their stance known, Charles retreats from the internet

The situation began to spiral out of control, with more and more people coming forward claiming sexual misconduct and inappropriate messages they experienced at the hands of James Charles. A Twitter thread of the many key allegations can be seen here.

Due to mounting public pressure, beauty brand Morphe cut ties with Charles, and YouTube demonetised his videos, citing their ‘creator responsibility policy’.

YouTube’s ‘creator responsibility policy’ states: “Remember that as YouTube creators, you should remain responsible both on and off the platform. If we see that a creator’s on- and/or off-platform behavior harms our users, community, employees or ecosystem, we may take action to protect the community. “

Charles releases a statement apologising for his actions, but refuting some of the more recent claims being made against him. “Since posting that video, many other people have come forward with a series of misleading stories and false allegations which have been reported on by many people, creators, and news outlets,” he wrote.

“My legal team has begun taking action against those that have spread misinformation and/or created completely fake stories, as this has gone too far.”

James Charles returns to the Internet after months of “self-reflection”

For most disgraced YouTubers, a return to the internet is imminent, however unwelcome that return may be.

Over the weekend, Charles officially began his comeback campaign, posting to YouTube with a video titled ‘An Open Conversation‘. Posting to his channel, which has over 25 million subscribers at the time of writing, Charles addresses the recent allegations, claiming now to be the right time for this video after months of “self-reflection”.

He calls everything that went down “the worst but most important wake-up call” of his entire life. “This is by far the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to me,” he says.

Addressing the allegations, he said:”At the end of the day, as the adult and the person with the platform, it was 1000 percent my responsibility to be doing my due diligence and checking into the people that I was speaking to, and I failed to do that,” he said.

“And that really, really sucks and that’s why I uploaded that video, because I felt as though it was really hard for me to hold myself accountable, give people an explanation as to what went down, and most importantly apologise to the people that were actually affected by my actions.”

He goes on to speak about how he doesn’t wish to have the accusations be referred to as a ‘scandal’.

“There’s no denying that I’ve been in my fair share of scandals online, but using that word with this situation just feels really, really wrong, and it really feels like it’s making light of what actually happened, and I don’t want to do that. I definitely have not been taking this lightly.”

“As scary as it is to think about, I’ve also come to terms with the fact that this isn’t just something that I can move on from,” Charles says.

“I am aware that, you know, no matter what I say in this video or 10 videos down the line, or a year’s worth of videos down the line, these stories and accusations are going to follow me for the rest of my life and the rest of my career, and that sucks so much.”

The internet reacts to Charles return

The first thing you’ll notice about Charles’ video is its extremely strange format. Charles addresses the issues at hand while putting on a full face of makeup, in a ‘Get Ready With Me’ format that many beauty YouTubers use (though not usually to apologise for grooming allegations, but that’s just my thoughts).

Charles addresses this strange choice almost immediately. “For today’s video, I really want to ‘Get Ready Together’ for a few different reasons,” he says at the start of the video. “One, being I miss doing makeup so, so much, and I really wanna do a pretty look for today’s video.”

The internet immediately criticised Charles’ approach, labelling it as insensitive and being in poor taste due to the severity of the accusations that were made against him.

People also weren’t stoked that the original ‘apology’ video, “holding myself accountable”, has been deleted from Charles’ channel. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t scream ‘accountable’ to me.

You can watch James Charles’ video below.

Words by Dani Leever, a writer and homosexual pop culture enthusiast. Find their words at @danileever or catch their gay DJ drag adventures at @djgaydad.

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