Friendship Wars Online: Truth, Beauty, Drama, and Shade

Image from Pexels

“I really hate drama,” I remember telling one of my friends last August. Days later, she and I were obsessively watching YouTube subscriber counts drop like they were the Times Square Ball on New Year’s Eve following the infamous Twitter drama surrounding five well-known YouTube beauty vloggers.

While the damage has been done, the hype has died down, and the hastily-written apologies have been posted, I like to think this has been a learning experience, both for the vloggers involved and the fans who fought for or turned against their favorite gurus.

Spilling the Tea

Grab your popcorn, it’s about to get interesting. GIF from GIPHY

For those of you who aren’t sure about what happened, here’s a recap: Jeffree Star is a YouTube beauty vlogger with a number of feuds, including those with fellow beauty vloggers Laura Lee, Gabriel Zamora, Manny Gutierrez, and Nikita Dragun.

The four vloggers, who are (or at least they were) friends in real life, got together last August and took a photo of them flipping off the camera. Gabriel uploaded the photo on Twitter with the caption, “Bitch is bitter because without him we’re doing better.”

Jeffree’s fans understood this subtle dig was intended for Jeffree. This might have turned out to be your regular content creator drama that would die down within a week if it weren’t for Jeffree starring in a tell-all documentary series by YouTuber Shane Dawson around the same time. The series exposes his vulnerable side and addresses his racist past, a fact a lot of people use against him.

It received overwhelming support, so it was no surprise that many found the timing suspicious. It didn’t help that Gabriel tweeted, “Imagine stanning a racist? I could never” and that Manny and Nikita liked the photo. In retaliation, Jeffree’s fans dug into the four vloggers’ old tweets dating back to 2012, and revived their racist and other derogatory tweets.

All four published lengthy apologies on Twitter and YouTube.

Gabriel, however, had much more to say. On August 21, he uploaded a video where he admitted Jeffree had never done anything to him, but his caption was done out of anger based on the stories the other three told him. After personally calling Jeffree to apologize, Gabriel realized his friends lied, including Manny, whom he painted as the ringleader who, along with Laura, planned to throw him under the bus. Manny followed with a video two days later, apologizing to Gabriel and Jeffree.

While I’m sure everyone learned their lesson, here are some I picked up as I watched the drama unfold:

1. Don’t judge someone until you know the whole story.

Admit it: at one point, we were all like Gabriel.

We have that person we don’t like simply because our friends say they’re a terrible person. While your friend may be telling the truth, on rare occasions, this may not always be the case. That person may just be misunderstood, or there may be a bad side to your best friend you haven’t seen or noticed yet.

Before you block this person on social media or justify that it’s OK to be mean to that person because your friend says so, try to get to know them first. You don’t have to be friends, but understand where they are coming from before you pass judgment.

2. Apologies are meant to be sincere.

Despite her relative silence in this drama, Laura Lee had probably the worst outcome during this fiasco, and I feel like part of that was due to the way she handled her apology video. It’s your generic social media influencer apology video, albeit shorter: from the no-makeup look and the crying down to the plain one-colored shirt.

Apologies are meant to be sincere. No excuses. Image from Gabriel Zamora, YouTube

Her apology had very little substance compared to Gabriel’s, who recognized his faults and gave no excuses. It was clear he was apologizing and admitted that he was in a toxic friendship he needed to cut from his life. He was basically Shoshanna from Girls. A line from her sums up their relationship perfectly: “I have come to realize how exhausting and narcissistic and ultimately boring this whole dynamic is, and I finally feel brave enough to create some distance for myself.”

3. Karma is a bitch.

Laura Lee, who celebrated reaching a five million subscriber milestone on August 1, saw her subscriber count nose-dive to, as of writing this, 4.4 million. Based on the formula Polygon used, she has lost 600,000 subscribers in over a month, which may have cost her around $210 (Php 11.4k) a day in YouTube income. Her racist tweets have also cost her partnerships with Ulta, ColourPop Cosmetics, Morphe, and BoxyCharm. Manny, on the other hand, went from 5.3 million to 4.9 million subscribers.

What comes around goes around. GIF from GIPHY

And as for Jeffree? He can’t relate. Before the end of August, he reached 10 million subscribers.

Depending on your take, the beauty vlogger drama was either an entertaining read on your Twitter feed or a nuisance that filled your recommended video list with unnecessary commentary. Hopefully, this was a learning experience for everyone involved, but knowing the beauty community, there may be more tea to spill.

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