James Charles vs. British Media

The situation with James Charles demonstrates there are still some clear ignorances in British news and media.

Last week, news articles, broadcasters and such commented on the nearly-14 million YouTube Beauty Guru James Charles’ appearance at the Birmingham Morphe Store for it’s “opening” and meet and greet.

James Charles Makeup look known as "blank canvas"
Photo: James Charles, popular YouTube Beauty Guru

According to sources and even James himself, roughly 8,000 people flocked into the Bullring on Saturday 28th January to see the popular makeup artist, leading to an aftermath in traffic as people attempted to leave the city after the event.

Following the event, news organisations such as the BBC, LBC Radio and many others capitalised on the aftermath for a news story about the situation; many pleading that age old and tiresome response of “Who is this”.

The “tiresome” narrative was then taken one step further by ITV Central News, when ITV news presenter Sameena Ali-Khan responded to a colleagues comment saying that ”you do good makeup, why don’t you go on YouTube?”, to which Khan responded with “that’s because I take advice from a woman not a man”. It’s safe to say, viewers weren’t pleased with her statement.

While many were citing the comments as homophobic, including James himself, the comments presented more of the residual sexism that has existed in British media for decades, and reinforced a lot of the traditionalistic stereotypes of what is “appropriate” for a man and a woman to do — something that James Charles and many other male beauty gurus on the platform stand against.

British Media has always had a somewhat middle-aged ignorance about it; capitulating that ignorance in recent years due to failing audience numbers and the disconnect between the younger generation and the older ones. Still though, it’s obvious that not enough changes have been made over the last decade as ignorance such as whose who and the old sexist implications that men can’t dress or act more feminine unless they’re gay or queer is a tiresome narrative in its own right.

If more traditionalist media want a younger audience, then they’re going to have to abandon a lot of the ignorances that have upheld them for so long, because time is inevitably against them.