Beauty blogging is in need of an exorcism. What was once a comparatively calm utopia of stunning looks and helpful tips has devolved into the overly-dramatic and shady cesspit of YouTube, a whole lot of cursed energy wrapped up in titles like “I Got Pink Eye From Using Drugstore Makeup Samples (NOT CLICKBAIT!!!)”. If fans are still getting their lives from all the petty drama that’s fine, but it’s gotten to the stage where these people have become influential enough to ruin careers and avoid accountability for their actions while amassing enough devout stans to sic on whoever they want. It’s gross.
Furthermore, when did MUAs stop giving actual advice in their tutorials? Who wants to watch twenty minutes of someone slapping on a shoddy smokey eye, talking about their Taco Bell debacle, and gushing about how much they love the product while mentioning approximately five hundred times that “ oh, it’s no big deal, they’re just on the PR list for the brand?” When they trash a product, how likely is it that they aren’t on the PR list or were blacklisted? Feeling entitled to free things is a running thread in the influencer world.
The latest drama revolves around ghostly makeup titan Jeffree Star and all his ex-friends — Gabriel Zamora, Nikita Dragun, Laura Lee, Manny MUA — ganging up on him. It’s utterly tiring to get into this twisted tale of racist tweets and hilariously disingenuous apology videos. In short, bigoted beauty bloggers attack another bigoted beauty blogger who ends their careers with his own remaining undamaged because he’s the richer, more influential bigoted beauty blogger. In this way beauty blogging really is a microcosm of society, in that the mediocre ones are more successful because they appeal to the lowest common denominator, the ones who giggle whenever someone shrieks “so pigmented!”
It’s understandable to feel alienated and disillusioned by this scene, but dig hard enough and you’ll find the remaining gems of the community. Nikkie Tutorials is one of the least problematic of the influencers and is stupidly talented. Nailological is a refreshingly offbeat viewing experience with bomb nail designs and questionable makeup skills delivered with good-natured irreverence. Then there’s John Maclean.
How would one begin to describe Lord Maclean. At least, without sounding like they’re describing a character from an haute couture vampire film, or Tim Burton’s dream wife. He identifies as male but looks like an immortal mix of Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Cate Blanchett, and something else a little otherworldly. He speaks in cursive, like he invented both the English language and aristocracy, with a soothingly posh Scottish lilt which wraps around every stunningly enunciated word like satin. Requests for ASMR videos continuously pour in, and if he ever dips into that world it would be nothing without a visual of Maclean’s gentle but unshakeable soul-boring eye contact.
Whenever he reviews a product it’s like watching your middle-aged mother use one finger to type on her new iPhone with the flip case. But as soon as he starts to apply the product he’s incredibly dextrous, soothing the viewer into a blissful state of relaxation to be taken entirely unawares by a cutting comment or outlandish joke that comes from absolutely nowhere. Also, he does furniture too.
What’s great about Maclean is that, shtick or not, he’s a charming, understated presence and possesses actual heaps of talent. His looks always turn out, in his words, “seamless, flawless.” He throws out helpful tips like they’re going out of fashion, and that aforementioned mam-with-iPhone disconnect means he can review the latest products from a healthily unbiased distance without fear of blurting out “I’m on the PR list” jargon. Whether this is because he’s thousands of years old and utterly unbothered by trends remains to be seen.
He’s classy, he’s entertaining, he’s gorgeous, he knows what he’s doing, and his videos or “fil-ums” are an out-of-body experience in themselves. Perhaps the biggest cosign of all; you won’t find him apologising via the Notes app. If you’re not with it, get with it.