The scene opens. We see Jeffree Star dressed in a bright pink robe and Louis Vuitton socks casually relaxing on an enormous, luxurious couch that seems to be covered in some sort of golden fur. In the background, a monumental entrance framed by not one but two spiral staircases is visible. In a house that most people can barely conceive of, let alone afford, Jeffree’s voice echoes as he lectures us about what it means to be accountable and take ownership of your actions.
That’s at least how I imagine the script for this video went. I kind of promised myself that I would stop paying attention to Beauty Guru drama but as soon as I saw the thumbnail for this video, I knew all bets were off.
If you’re just joining us, you can read about the recent Dramageddon 3.0 in the article I wrote a few weeks ago. Quick recap: After blowing up the Beauty Guru community in 2019, Tati Westbrook once again grabbed the mic after the internet (including Jada and Jayden Smith) called out Shane Dawson for his racist and pedophilic past behaviour. In it, she claimed that Shane and Jeffree Star both manipulated her into making her initial video about James Charles (eyeroll) and that Jeffree Star was “dangerous”.
When Tati posted that video, people were obviously expecting reactions from both Shane and Jeffree. Shane of course immediately watched it on Instagram Live, a video that was quickly shared and memed.
TikTok is truly the highest artform we have today pic.twitter.com/WURHJtBbcW— Prem Sai Ramani (@psramani95) July 11, 2020
Jeffree Star, however, remained cryptically silent. Speculation swirled as to whether this was a condemnation of Shane’s behaviour, who is Jeffree’s close friend, or a conscious decision to remain out of the drama, a claim he made last year in his video called “Never Doing This Again”. Turns out it was neither because yesterday, Jeffree spoke for about 10 minutes in a video called “Doing What’s Right”. It’s not technically an apology, nor is it really an explanation, and I’m not really sure what it is, but it definitely isn’t “doing what’s right”.
In the video, Jeffree claims to take responsibility for his actions, own up to his mistakes, and urges us to focus on bigger issues (eyeroll). He also takes the time to apologize to James Charles and affirm his friendship and support for Shane. Technically, Tati is not mentioned once in the video, but the video is definitely about her accusations because the level of vaguing is astronomical.
What’s funny about this video, aside from the ridiculous way it’s staged, is that it completely contradicts everything that Jeffree has said in the past about this incident. For one, he asks his subscribers to call him out if he stops taking accountability for his actions while also deactivating comments for his video. This tweet basically sums up the whole vibe:
Jeffree Star being his own worst enemy while trying to manipulate everyone, a short film pic.twitter.com/uF6r35f0iU— Max âœ¨ (@MaxposedYT) July 19, 2020
For someone so social media savvy, I’m surprised that Jeffree felt comfortable enough to basically lie in front of the camera and not expect that everyone else would pull up receipts and compare. But then again, maybe that speaks to the level of privilege displayed in this video.
The most infuriating part is around the 5:45 mark when Jeffrey decides to remind us all that 2020 has been crazy (wow so relatable) and that there are bigger issues at hand including #JusticeforBreonnaTaylor and that “Black trans women are being murdered every day and the news is silent.” Alone, there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with this statement. In fact, it’s the same argument I made in my last article.
However, in the context of a video where you’re supposed to be answering to some serious allegations about you and one of your closest friends, it’s a distraction tactic. Jeffree acknowledges this, but brushes it off. And it’s yet another example of where Black pain and suffering are manipulated, in this case to distract from being held accountable. We mustn't forget that Jeffree himself had to apologize for his past racist actions in 2017 and again last month. A video by someone who worked with Jeffree alleged that he was using racial slurs as recently as February of this year, while beauty guru Kameron Lester spoke about being used as a token Black model in Jeffree’s campaigns.
Almost in the same breath as Breonna Taylor’s name, Jeffree also talks about supporting Shane Dawson, flippantly ignoring valid criticisms in the sweeping statement, “Do I agree with Shane’s past actions? Of course I don’t.” And in the same video that calls for paying attention to the issue of Black people being murdered, Jeffree also promotes his upcoming cosmetics products, gasses himself up about the diversity he promotes, and tells his fans to stay tuned for more videos. He doesn’t even bother to include donation links in the video’s description. (Here’s the link to a petition you can sign.)
There’s not a lot to unpack here. The video is as tone deaf, it does little to assuage concerns that Jeffree has grown beyond some of his inexcusable behaviour in the past. All it does is confirm what we knew about so many of these YouTubers whose names have been in headlines: accountability is just a nuisance in their privileged lives. A brief hiccup in an otherwise uninterrupted sea of success, money, and fame.