James Charles faces a backlash because he has participated in a popular TikTok trend that imitates mug shots.
The "mug shot challenge" originated on TikTok, which began to idealize mug shots long before users started to imitate them. At the beginning of March, users published videos of mug shots that they found attractive.
"The last girl looks like she knows how to have a good time," one user signed his video, which now has 226,700 likes.
In another video, the TikTok user added thirst emojis before starting a slideshow with nameless, jailed faces.
The trend was linked to the mug shot challenge, where users noticed how they applied smeared eyeliner and messed up their hair before posing against empty white walls. Some have continued the trend by adding makeup to look hurt and bloody. In one version, TikTok user nehvjones temporarily tattooed her neck. In another case, the TikTok user thehumankind appeared to be scratched, adding that she "doesn't go down without a fight".
TikTok developers have also transferred the trend to Twitter, where they have posted photos of their attempts at the challenge.
The mug shot challenge is massively problematic. It provides a platform to improve makeup skills, but also glorifies detention that disproportionately affects the Black and Latinx communities. Participation in the challenge is insensitive and ignorant, as marginalized communities are already exposed to racial profiles and police brutality. Glorifying this injustice, even when others do it, is wrong.
The TikTok users who join the trend with hashtags like #mugshot with 135.6 million views and #mugshotchallenge with 72.7 million views. Another popular day is #mugshotshawty with 9.8 million views. Most of the participants seem to be white.
Although the trend is tasteless, it was only criticized when beauty vlogger James Charles jumped on the train. Charles, who has seen a lot of controversy, tweeted side by side photos of himself with a bloody nose and a bruised eye. He didn't label it.
Other Twitter users called him up because he was violent and insensitive. A fan expressed her discomfort and compared it to surviving domestic violence.
"It's not fun when your face is hurt and you can't cover it up," the fan replied on Charles’s tweet. "Maybe I'm too sensitive, but it really made me feel uncomfortable because I couldn't take mine off. I felt dehumanized."
Charles explained that he was participating in a TikTok trend and that "this had nothing to do with domestic violence".
Hello baby, I'm so sorry that you've been through something so terrible and traumatic. It's a tik token trend where people post their "mug shots" and have nothing to do with domestic violence. I love you
– James Charles (@jamescharles) April 6, 2020
Another Twitter user noticed that even if Charles took part in the wanted search, nothing in the photos indicated that it was is a mug shot. With no caption or visual cues, Charles just seemed to have been hit.
Sorry, but it doesn't look like a mug shot, you have to know that. There is no visual indication of it and no labeling. At least you have to understand that. You could do something to make it clear. The brand only missed this personally as an explanation.
– Madison Beard (@MadisonABeard) April 6, 2020
Throughout Monday, Twitter users called on all of the mug shot challenge participants to be privileged and contactless with those most affected by detention are.
It is worth noting that many of the TikTok users participating in the challenge are young and may not be aware of how unfair the prison system really is – but when influencers like Charles use their expansive platforms to join the wanted challenge , this increases legitimacy
"It's a reality that a lot of brown and black people have to face, and turning this into a trend is really strange and crude," said Twitter user yojogn.
The way brown and black people are disproportionately criminalized is disgusting. This trend is tasteless and eliminates problems with the prison complex and law enforcement system.
– j (@yojogn) April 6, 2020
Others pointed out how ridiculous the challenge is.
I'm sorry, but WHAT is this "make your own mugshot trend"? I apologize that a white 4 on the focus scale needs to tell you this, but none of you look hot with fake blood and bruises 🤡🤡🤡
– CHRIS KLEMENS (@ChrisKlemens) April 6, 2020  y "Everyone is like a" mug shot challenge, "but ignores the mass incarceration rates in the United States." Are fake mug shots becoming a trend? 🥴 https://t.co/m8RfGL9jqz[19659002female-🌿Clay&Rain🌿(@zoexrain) April 6, 2020
yall and this stupid ass mugging trend …… id bet 99% you have no one in your family locked up in the prison industrial complex. Eat a tail.
– Nicko von der Uhr ☭ (@xxcommie) April 6, 2020
You tell me that a "mug shot" has become a trend. Make up to look like you were beaten and brutalized by the police. yk POC is actually beaten by the police and taken to the area for mug shots, half the time just to be black. If they see us, we should teach you something. https://t.co/wmQQ5MvVIt[19659002lightboxes-déjameenpaz(@anelitebitch) April 6, 2020
Eye, beaten face, bloody nose to pose for a mug shot? Oh ok.
– Alfredo Flores (@AlfredoFlores) April 6, 2020
During this pandemic, the public is particularly upset with celebrities and influencers. A few weeks ago, a coalition of celebrities (virtually) gathered to sing a cover of John Lennon's "Imagine". But instead of inspiring the public, they have been criticized for being naive and privileged. While thousands of symptomatic people are struggling to be tested for COVID-19, influencer Arielle Charnas has been accused of using her compounds to access tests. Other influencers have been accused of "milking the corona virus on the go". Although the coronavirus pandemic has been called "the big balance", it obviously affects the working class and low-income people the most.
So when a celebrity like James Charles took part in the mug shot challenge that already has barbs, the public was less than welcoming.
Charles, who deleted the tweet on Monday afternoon, did not apologize.
"Despite the fact that hundreds of other influencers and artists did something similar, I deleted the mug shot trend because I never intended to trigger anyone," he tweeted . "It's a waste of time to have an open discussion with people who still hate me."
He added a peace sign Emoji.
After the backlash, the streamer Corinna Kopf also quietly deleted her mug shots from Twitter and Instagram. After her tweet was included in a summary of Pop Crave, the personality Bianca Dayag made her account private.
Charles' followers wiped criticism and dismissed them as haters to get him. And while Charles gets a fair share of criticism, he also has a large following. As a public figure, his actions are criticized, especially when they are ruthless towards those who do not have the privilege that he has.
There are also many other challenges you can take part in in order not to glorify the criminal justice system.
If you or someone you know have experienced domestic violence, call the national domestic violence hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224.