No time is a good time to defend a racist, but if you had to pick a week to do it, this is certainly not the week. But here we are, talking about Kim Kardashian talking about the makeup tips and bigotry spewed by a supposedly reformed racist. For your digestive ease (and I guess, posterity), here is a relatively succinct timeline of Kim Kardashian’s defense and subsequent retraction of her defense of a person called Jeffree Star.
On her Instagram story, Kim Kardashian showed off her Dark Deep Dark Kit (“amazing highlighters and bronzer contours”) in her KKW Beauty line of cosmetics. She spread stripes of various colors on her forearm to display what this makeup looks like on her skin—a process called “swatching.”
Kim’s makeup was criticized by an internet personality who goes by Jeffree Star. Star got his Star-t as a MySpace musician who also vlogged on YouTube. I guess back in the day, you would label his neon-gothy-queerness as “scene”? Though his self-consciously brash music never broke through to the mainstream (he played the Warped Tour in 2012, though) and his videos and social-media presence were caustic to the point of alienating, he somehow stuck around and parlayed the attention he had accrued into a career in cosmetics. Jeffree Star Cosmetics seems to be doing very well commercially, and Star remains active on social media. This is what he tweeted yesterday:
On her Instagram story, Kim defended the offending swatches by stating she is “learning how to swatch.” Then her #1 makeup guy Mario Dedivanovic aka Makeup By Mario showed her how he swatches. “Okay, so I do two fingers at once? It’s like I’m fingering someone,” she said cracking herself up.
Little did she know that she was about to fuck herself. After a swatch tutorial and more beautifying of Kim ensued, she delivered an impassioned plea to her Instagram story-watchers:
And guys, I see that my fans are totally hating on someone like Jeffree Star for being, you know, honest about my struggle swatch but because of his remarks I’m learning from like, the best, like from Mario, like how to swatch properly. So, guys, like, and I see you being so petty bringing up things in his past where he, you know, was, you know, negative, but he’s also apologized for those things and I get it’s a serious deal if you say, like, racial things, but I do believe in people changing and people that apologize I will give them the benefit of the doubt and accept that people change and move on and I know better than anyone that I hate when people bring up my past or mistakes that I’ve made in the past so let him live, like, I welcome honest, you know, comments about my products and because of it I’m swatching better now. So everyone get off his ass and let’s not be so negative, we’re all in this together, there’s room for all of us. Love you Jeffree.
At least one good tweet was made in response to this:
Kim followed up with another message, lest she be misunderstood:
And I want to make one last thing clear: I do not defend people that are racist and I’m very against it but if someone claims that they have changed, I would love to give them the benefit of the doubt and I pray to God that they do change for the sake of my children and my friends and, you know... So I want to give him the benefit of the doubt, but I do not support people that are racist. That’s why I so appreciate that he apologized and was really honest about the things he said in the past, so just enough, just don’t bring it up anymore, is what I’m trying to say. People want to forget the negative things they do in the past, and I do too.
The next shot found the camera panning up Kim’s tightly-clad body and passing over her cleavage as she said, “Set vibes!”
Kim was responding to the responses of her followers and other social media users, who themselves were responding to Jeffree Star’s history of responses to people of color. Here is a brief but helpful compilation of Star saying “nigger” repeatedly and things like, “I win by having diamond rims, and you win by being a poor Mexican” to illustrate why some people were pissed off that Kim defended Star in any way (and even mentioned him in the first place):
When Kim cited Star’s “apology,” she most likely meant a 15-minute video that Star posted last month on YouTube in response to “old videos of me that have been resurfacing lately.” Clearly, those old videos are bad for Star’s brand, which is to say bank account, which makes Kim’s stated interest in affording him the benefit of the doubt seem at least foolish.
I won’t spend too long discussing the contents of this video, but I will point out that within the first 15 seconds Star calls this discussion of “some really serious subjects, some issues that I have been dealing with for a long time” as a “one-on-one with you guys.” Babe, that’s not how one-on-ones work. Also he refers to the allegations of racism as “a fucked-up subject I’ve been dealing with for a long time.” Babe, that’s not how apologies work.
“I want to speak to you as a human being that breathes on this earth with you,” Star says in minute 2 of his intro. (Not spending too much time discussing the contents of this video is actually difficult as there is a dumb thing fashioned to seem earnest waiting around every corner!)
The TL;DR version of this video is that Star admits to saying “some really disgusting, vile, nasty, and embarrassing things” 12 years ago. Star literally claims to “not know who that person was” and then immediately goes on to fill in details from that person’s interior life: “I do not know who that person was. The person who said those horrible, vile things, that person was depressed, that person was just angry with the world, that person felt like they were not accepted, that person was seeking attention.”
He also talks about how being “a guy in makeup” 10 years ago alienated him from the world and got spit on and gay-bashed “every single day,” which prompted him to fight back with rage. But that’s wrong, he says. He seems to want us to believe he’s holding back tears sometimes. I turned this off at the seven-minute mark, so I can’t confirm if the tears actually manifest.
Star tweeted a bit about the exchange with Kim and also retweeted some words of praise like these:
Earlier this morning, it was Kim’s turn to apologize:
Hey guys, so I really wanted to apologize to you guys and my fans for defending a situation yesterday that I really didn’t know enough about and I just feel a bit naive and I do really want to apologize for me feeling like I had the right to say, “Get over it,” in a situation that involves racism and I just don’t really feel like I have the right to speak on that and I really, really, really am sorry and I just...from the bottom of my heart, and I’ve always been about just like positivity and I’ve never been a negative person, so my whole thing was like, “Hey guys I don’t want to see negativity in my timeline or my mentions, let’s just move forward, let’s like be positive and move past this. and I realize I was a bit naive in saying that and I just... It’s not, like, going against my fans in any way, like I just was saying like, “Let’s get the negativity off my timeline,” but you know I’m sorry... So I really am sorry and I just want to move forward and be positive.
But see, without that negativity Kim never would have learned, just like she never would have learned about proper swatching without Jeffree Star’s critique. Sometimes learning hurts, I guess.