James Charles responds to backlash over Instant Influencer apology video challenge

11 May 2020, 15:55 | Updated: 11 May 2020, 16:11

Instant Influencer saw four contestants compete to create the best fake apology video.

Ah, the YouTube apology video. A video so infamous that it has now become its own genre of content on the platform. But while these videos are often uploaded to address very serious issues, they've also been parodied to death by people who mock the formulaic way creators speak to their followers and cry on camera.

James Charles knows he's no stranger to an apology video, which is why this week's challenge on his new reality competition Instant Influencer has split opinion on the internet.

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In the latest episode (aired May 8), James tasked his 4 remaining contestants to record their own apology video, explaining: "As an influencer, when you grow a following, you will either say or do something that people might not like or might not agree with and eventually, you might have to apologise."

The challenge soon went viral, with a number of critics questioning the overall challenge and the kind of message it could send.

The aim of the compact challenge was to make fun of apology videos by using lighthearted scandals, such as "being caught over-editing your photos" and "filming a second apology video to say sorry for putting ads in the first one". But many users thought it missed the mark completely.

One Twitter user wrote: "The way he just confirmed that when white mua’s are being called out on their racism or any form of bigotry that the apology videos are not as sincere as y’all really want us to believe. He should be the last one poking fun about this Mr. Ebola jokes."

They continued: "I have so much to say on this but let me just end this with this is why cancel culture is not real. This shit really be a joke to them, which is why most of them don’t show growth at all."

The criticism was also met with a lot of comments defending James and the show. James also responded by addressing one of the viral tweets calling him out.

In a two part reply, James wrote: "This is a reach. This has nothing to do with skin tone, influencers of every race have had to apologize for things in the past. This challenge was a lighthearted way to poke fun at cancel culture (hence the stupid scandals) and was in no way meant to invalidate actual bigotry."

He continued: "I can only speak for myself - I’ve had scandals that I have taken very seriously and addressed, such as the ebola joke, but I’ve also been involved with stupid “scandals” due to cancel culture where I’ve had to laugh it off. It’s just reality TV. Not that deep."