Jeffree Star is no stranger to controversy—one might say stirring it up (Kat Von D feud) or inserting himself into the middle of it (Tati Westbrook and James Charles spat) is part of his marketing secret sauce.
The king of drama has stirred up more internet drama with his latest product launch. While other brands are thoughtfully crafting messaging to navigate this very strange time we find ourselves in, Jeffree Star is apparently tone deaf—or is he? While I’m not sure there is ever a good time to launch a “cremated” palette, I don’t think anyone, including Jeffree Star, could think there wouldn’t be blowback launching it now. Let’s face it—in the world of Jeffree Star, a bit of controversy is good for sales.
“Introducing the #CREMATED eyeshadow palette & collection!!!! This one of a kind spooky @jeffreestarcosmetics 24 pan gothic dream will wake up the makeup world! The FULL reveal video will be on my channel TOMORROW morning!!!! Get ready to be deceased. Extreme payoff. 🕊 With our iconic mattes & new extreme sparkle metallic formula.”
The Reaction: was immediate. In less than 24 hours, the video received over 4 million views and even reached the #1 trending spot on the platform. Within hours of the announcement, Star began trending on Twitter.
“Jeffree Star rly released a CREMATION themed palette in the middle of a global pandemic in which the bodies of thousands killed by COVID are being cremated,” one Twitter user wrote. “And STILL his deranged lil’ fans will eat it up.”
“J*ffree St*r releasing a palette called CREMATED in the middle of a pandemic is so f—— tone-deaf,” another said.
“To those who find a cremation palette launch during a pandemic acceptable, please feel free to let the millions of families who lost loved ones, were unable to have a proper burial, & had no choice but to have a cremation for their loved one why you feel so strongly. quickly,” another added.
There were plenty of others who jumped to Jeffree’s defense.
“Apparently suddenly you’re all unaware that a palette takes a while to make and plan. You seem to think Jeffree just cooked this up and pushed it out because you’re complaining about the name and the timing,” tweeted one fan.
“People complaining about the name of the new @JeffreeStar collection, it’s not that deep. Yes we’re in a pandemic but he named it forever ago and can’t change packaging in a moment’s notice,” wrote another, pointing out that the name had been trademarked since September.
Fellow YouTuber Nikki Tutorials played the role of Switzerland in the controversy in her review of Cremated to her 13.4 million followers, but made a good point that regardless of when this palette launched, it was bound to offend someone because the virus is not going away any time soon.
The Response: The makeup artist first addressed the controversy in a Snapchat video, which has reportedly been deleted but has popped up on Twitter. “There’s a lot of talk on Twitter…” Jeffree prefaced his video, talking directly to the camera and wearing a dark smoky eye that was probably created with his new palette. “‘Cremated,’ or any palette I’ve ever created, is my art. It’s not just an eyeshadow palette, it’s way more than that. There are always so many meanings with my art, and that’s what it is. It’s mine.”
The Tutorial With Response: A more formal response came by way of the launch of the YouTube tutorial video for the pallet that launched on Wednesday, May 20. Star started the video with an explanation.
“We were supposed to have a very gothic and dark spring,” Star said, “but, of course, things did not go according to plan, but that’s okay.”
“This is a smoky eye dream,” the YouTuber said, while showing off the new palette, which includes colors in shades of grey and black with names such as “Grave Digger,” “The Morgue,” “Hearse,” and “Casket Ready.”
He spoke about the name and its meaning to him saying, “Cremated is, like, my iconic catchphrase. You know when you’re blown away by something, and it’s so sickening? Me and my friends like to say, ‘B*tch, I’m cremated. Baby, I’m deceased.'”
“It takes months and months, sometimes a year plus, to make a product. There were some people saying ‘Jeffree, it’s a little weird timing, there’s a lot going on in the world’ … for me, this is art, and I never come from a negative place, you guys,” he explained.
Star ended the video with a more personal explanation. “On a real level, my own father was cremated, my two dogs that passed away last year were cremated, so nothing ever comes from a negative place in my life,” he revealed. “If you take it that way, that’s how you articulate things, but b*tch, not me!”
Tone deaf or not, being provocative and stirring up controversy is simply part of the Jeffree Star DNA. While most editorial outlets, from Page Six to Newsweek and Teen Vogue to Refinery29, reached out to Star for comment, the requests went unanswered, that is with the exception of YouTuber Sebastian Willams.
Williams made a video about the Star-related backlash, reached out to him for comment, and Star allegedly responded by direct message. “People want to make it personal and be offended always, but the world just doesn’t work like that,” Star reportedly wrote. According to Star, he didn’t want to postpone the release for quality-control purposes. “I have three more eyeshadow palettes launching in 2020 and several new products launching and Cremated would’ve been moved to 2021, way later in the year,” he reportedly wrote to Williams. “I never want to risk makeup becoming expired; that’s not the best for the customer experience. I want my customers to get the best quality product.”
While he was certainly not being opportunistic—we all know launches are planned well in advance—what was clear in his explanation is pandemic or no pandemic, Star had a new product launch and the show must go on. No judgment; while you may not agree with the decision, you have to give Star credit for his marketing chops.
The palette will retail for $58 and launches on jeffreestarcosmetics.com on Friday, May 22, at 1 pm EST and is sure to sell out.
Photo: via Jeffree Star