Last summer, YouTuber Shane Dawson—a guy who recently joked about dry-humping and ejaculating on his cat, just one in a long history of inappropriate “jokes” about pedophilia and racism—decided to make a five-part “documentary” series on makeup mogul Jeffree Star—a man who once light-heartedly quipped about lighten a black woman’s skin by throwing battery acid on her. The series aimed to portray Star in a positive light, namely, as someone who is not racist, but deeply sorry for saying racist things... sort of like, what a coincidence, Dawson. (It is shockingly hard for YouTubers to not be racist.)
Riding the success of those videos, Dawson has spearheaded yet another series focused on Star—this time, with an even more thinly veiled redemption plot. The first hour-long video, “The Beautiful World of Jeffree Star,” dropped on Monday night and is somehow more cloying than the original. Now, Dawson is a player in the story, and Star’s “Beautiful World” extends to his own physical insecurities. I might feel some sympathy for Dawson’s sense of inadequacy (the beauty industry is, after all, historically exclusionary) if he didn’t spend time bemoaning that he is “poor,” and from the living room of his own Los Angeles mansion. Lost me there, bud.
The video follows Dawson and Star as they board a private jet to attend the opening of a new Morphe store in a mall in Sacramento, where Star keeps reiterating that tens of thousands of people have showed up. (I find that incredibly hard to believe. For context, that would be, like, a full Madison Square Garden crowd.) Dawson expresses that he is uncomfortable with the life of luxury but Star assures him he needs to buck up and get used to it: quite frankly, if he wants to launch an eyeshadow palette with Jeffree Star Cosmetics, he’s gonna feel the heat. And there it is: the teaser for the rest of the series, which will narrowly follow the launch of Dawson’s debut cosmetics line with Star, all while portraying them both as vulnerable, successful, and relatable.
Dawson and Star say that the series is designed to show viewers how a makeup conglomerate builds a product from an idea—addressing various insider BeauTuber gossip, and their own past offenses, is just a side benefit. It isn’t just “forget about the past, this is who we are now,” it’s “forget about the past, and buy our shit.” It’s an evolution that was easily anticipated for those who were paying attention: Jeffree teased a “conspiracy palette” collaboration with Dawson in their original series, and Shane has been experimenting with makeup in his fiancé Ryland Adam’s vlogs for months.
I guess it’s worth watching if you have a very online teen in your life and you want to have something to talk to them about. But otherwise it’s just another half-hearted attempt at redemption without apology.