Disaster in an Online Community: Trolling the World of Beauty YouTube
The YouTube beauty community is a small world. Self proclaimed beauty gurus post videos of themselves doing their makeup, reviewing products and showcasing their enviable makeup collections. Some beauty gurus have amassed millions of followers and cultivated a devoted fan base. Most well known YouTube beauty personalities are friendly towards each other, but conflict does arise. And when it does, its massive.
Kat Von D is a well known tattoo artist who also has her own make up line. Von D is very active on social media, including YouTube where she posts makeup related content. Von D used to be close friends with Jeffree Star, a fellow internet personality and makeup artist. In July of 2016, however, Von D uploaded a video to her YouTube channel where she denounced Star based on allegations that he had stolen designs for his makeup line from an independent artist.
This prompted Star to post a video on his channel telling his side of the story.
The very public disagreement played out over several social media platforms but trolls played the largest part on YouTube. After the videos were posted, a feud resulted among Von D and Star’s fans. Both of them have their own make-up lines and fans were declaring that they would stop buying products from the party they disagreed with. This was a disaster for the beauty community.
In order to deal with the inflammatory trolling comments, both Von D and Star have disabled the comments section on their videos. In the description of her video, Von D states “In an effort to not start a commenting war between anyone, i have disabled comments on this particular video. To me, the subject matter of this video is not up for debate, as there is such a difference between wrong and right.” Star writes in his description “I have disabled comments for the first time in this video due to how heated people have become.” The emotional nature of this feud attracted trolls because as Whitney Phillips discusses “trolls’ talent for emotional firewalling is matched only by their ability to recognize and exploit their target’s attachments.” Both Von D and Star have loyal fan bases who were ready and willing to defend their celebrity idol’s honor. These are exactly the kinds of people who trolls love to mess with.
Even though the comments sections were disabled, trolls were still able to engage in the drama through reaction videos. These videos were made by fans discussing the feud between Von D and Star, usually taking a side in favor of one or the other. The fans posting the reaction videos clearly have strong personal feelings about the feud, providing a prime trolling opportunity.
Even though Von D and Star attempted to combat the trolls through disabling the comments sections on their videos, they were not successful in dealing with the trolls completely. They still had ample space to create drama about the feud due to their ability to comment on other YouTube videos and even create their own reaction videos. The trolls didn’t have a large effect on Von D or Star themselves because the intended audience was their fan base. But the trolling comments did create additional drama and bring more attention to the feud.