Ah, influencer culture. Something that didn't exist fifteen years ago, something the world may have been better off without. Regardless of whether or not we truly needed influencers, they are in our lives, media, and daily news. Most people know the names of influencers, the largest ones being James Charles, Jeffree Star, Jake Paul, Huda Kattan, Joanna Gaines, and many more. By definition, an influencer is "a person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media". Influencers can use many different social media platforms. They may use Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, or all three!
Many influencers will get their start on either Instagram or YouTube and then after hitting it big on the first platform, they will expand to the other platforms, taking their followers and fan base with them. Influencers, as important as they may be in today's media, make money and get famous for doing practically nothing. They garner a following through aesthetic posts, relatable YouTube videos, even by starting drama with others to get their name recognized. At their core, influencers are just like us, normal people, they are just the fraction of humanity who were able to use social media to create an image, a brand, a lifestyle, and a paycheck for themselves.
Many influencers, once they have a large enough following, post advertisements, endorsing products, encouraging their followers and subscribers to purchase said product, and they either receive a deal from advertisements or a cut of the profits if followers purchase products from a link provided by the influencer themselves. We, as consumers of media and of goods, essentially pay for influencers to have it easy and profit off of their YouTube videos and Instagram posts by spending our hard earned dollars from our day jobs. Influencers aren't any better than we are, they don't possess any special qualities or traits like our favorite true, real celebrities do, such as our favorite singers or actors. A trend among influencers, male and female, is to become beauty gurus or vice versa.
Many influencers have released makeup palettes, raising their profits even more. As much as it pains me to say this, James Charles made history as an influencer by attending the MET Gala this year. Although the internet celeb was the butt of many jokes because of not only his invite but also his outfit, he remained unbothered, and posted about the evening stating that his attendance was, " a step forward in the right direction for influencer representation in the media and I am so excited to be a catalyst."
There should not be a catalyst for influencer representation at events such as the MET Gala, which used to be reserved for celebrities and only the most elite members of the media. The fact that James Charles would consider himself, no better than the rest of us aside from his ill-deserved 16 million YouTube subscribers, 9 million Instagram followers, and a net worth of 10 million, worthy of attending a Gatsby-esque event is astonishing. The fact that he believes more of his kind should attend events like these is outrageous. But that's not even the main sister scandal going on this week in the media.
Tati Westbrook, credited with James' rise to fame, posted a 43-minute video exposing James and his many inexcusable actions on Friday, titled "BYE SISTER". This video not only detailed previous drama between James and Tati but also other things James Charles had done around her that she felt the need to expose. In return, James Charles posted an 8-minute long apology video, half of which was silence or breathing, which obviously did not satisfy the vengeful Tati or his massive following. Since the posting of "BYE SISTER," James Charles' subscriber count has been exponentially decreasing, from 16 million to currently approaching 13 million three days later.
You really have to wonder, when will it end? When will James Charles stop losing subscribers? As someone who doesn't fully appreciate influencer culture or its current front runner James Charles, I am very entertained by this entire dramatic event between the sister squad and am incredibly grateful for the hilarious tweets it has created.
Although I have been tearing apart both James Charles and influencer culture thus far, there is a part of me that feels bad for him. He is only 19 years old, and I believe most teens just aren't mature enough to be getting caught up in fame, especially as quickly as James Charles has. He had to keep up with his rapidly changing life, rapidly growing fan base, and rapidly growing bank account. Sometimes, in all of that, you can forget to slow down and mature as everyone else learns to. Perhaps this is why he doesn't always handle things the best way, perhaps we can have some sympathy for him after all.
Even if his "career" as an influencer were to end today, with his current earnings thus far, he would most likely be able to not work, or work very little, for the remainder of his life, as the average American spends roughly 3 million in their lifetime, according to moneyaftergraduation.com. James has, most likely, more than 3 million in his bank account.
So, while I definitely am not a fan of "influencer culture", I do have a bit of sympathy for James Charles in all of this Tati Westbrook and sister scandal drama.