This year's Met Gala delivered a lot of great looks for us to fawn over. But just like any other high-profile event filled with celebs and A-list personalities, it wouldn't be as entertaining without any controversy. However, unlike last year's issues over its religious theme, the drama now focuses on the marginalisation of invited influencers — at least according to YouTuber James Charles.
The 19-year-old social media star and entrepreneur attended the event for the first time this year, donning an ensemble by Alexander Wang. While people were quite unconvinced that James Charles has enough traction to even be at the prestigious event's strict guest list, the look initially sold his case. This was until netizens saw his Instagram post claiming that he was honoured to be a part of "a step forward in the right direction for influencer representation in the media".
He also expressed excitement over being the "catalyst" of such a movement, despite other YouTube personalities Lily Singh and Liza Koshy attending the event in previous years. It's also worth noting that artists like Shawn Mendes, Alessia Cara and Troye Sivan, who all have been invited to previous and present Met Galas, also have a history as social media personalities. Needless to say, the internet had their field day with Charles' statements and the reactions were priceless.
Reaction to James Charles' statement
First, many were offended by his use of the term "influencer representation," as if it was something as heavily needing of attention like LGBTQIA+ or racial diversity. Even fellow YouTuber Tyler Oakley implied in a joke that maybe Charles thought the letter 'I' in LGBTQIA stands for 'influencer'.
Some were just downright confused with what Charles was saying.
It was even called out for being the "new top privilege."
Others focused on a more comical idea, creating memes referencing Charles' past issue with Shawn Mendes. Charles posted a lewd comment on one of Mendes' Instagram livestreams back in 2018, causing Mendes' to abruptly end the video. While the two reportedly already made peace after the incident, people obviously took Charles' Met blunder as an opportunity to bring the issue back up, knowing that Mendes will also be present at the event.
Harry Styles, who was co-chair in this year's Met Gala event, was also included in the equation as a past subject of Charles' many controversial statements. ICYMI, Charles had to issue an apology after fans called him out for assuming Styles' sexuality. He was also accused of using the former One Direction member's name to cause buzz for a collab.
Charles has not released any direct response towards him coining the term "influencer representation" nor has he revised the Instagram post's caption. However, he did take it to his Instagram stories, as well as his Met Gala video diary, to comment on the 'negativity' surrounding him being invited. He said that it was quite normal and expected that "whenever influencers do something new, people tend to be up in arms about it." No signs of remorse here, by the looks of it!
In conclusion, situations and statements like these clearly fuel the fire on why the term "influencer" is treated with such spite by most people. James Charles does not seem to get the very core of what "representation" means and what it stands for. This is why it is good that even some of his fellow YouTubers, as well as the social media-using masses, called him out on his statement. This gives us better hope that, at least, we're truly getting better at discerning the influencer versus the 'influencer'.
(Cover photo from: @jamescharles)