Have you ever sat down and decided to watch a YouTube video for entertainment? If so, what kind of YouTube videos do you watch? If you said anything related to true crime content, congratulations, you are part of the problem. How has this type of content become so normalized in American culture? Across all social media platforms, the obsession with true crime has become overbearing, especially on YouTube. With 6.78 million subscribers, popular YouTube star Bailey Sarian has a series titled “Murder, Mystery, & Makeup.” She is one of the most well known true crime YouTube stars and has appeared on shows such as “The Kelly Clarkson Show.” Included in every video is a clickbait title enticing viewers to click and watch. From titles such as “The Sugar Baby Cannibal Thanksgiving feast or Self Defense?” to “Terrible Teen Twins or Victims? – Jas and Tas Whiteland.” Her content is exactly what it sounds like, every Monday, Bailey tells true crime stories while doing her makeup. Each episode is perfectly narrated in a way that sounds like “you’re sitting around talking crime, and doing your makeup with your best friend.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t sit around talking to my best friends about gruesome murder cases. With suspenseful music, transitions, jump cuts, and unique commentary her videos are extremely entertaining.
With over 125 episodes generating over 1 million views each (even 14 million views), Bailey’s profit on this kind of content is absurd. She has even gotten paid sponsorships for brands such as “Casetify.” Instead of donating proceeds to organizations such as The National Center For Missing and Exploited Children, Crime Stoppers, or The National Center for Victims of Crime, she pockets all earnings. Bailey has no shame in promoting brands before discussing gruesome murders. At the end of each video she doesn’t pray for the families affected, she doesn’t provide resources for victims, she simply asks her viewers to comment what they think about the case. She even goes as far as to ask ambiguous questions such as “How does my makeup look? Do you like it?” How can someone casually do their makeup, while discussing morbid crimes? How can someone be so blinded by money? It is evident that true crime YouTube videos have become a revolutionary craze.
Bailey Sarian is a talented makeup artist with a captivating personality, yet I can’t help but wonder… is this kind of content ethical? Exploiting victims and families while creators make money from violent stories is the true crime. Her content is extremely inappropriate, disrespectful, and insensitive. As consumers we have to remember that these stories are about real individuals. We have to remember that real families have been affected by these crimes, and this type of content has the ability to re-traumatize those affected. When creators start exploiting these violent stories for views or money, that is when true crime becomes unethical. Aside from the monetary gain, this type of content has desensitized the American public. Constant consumption of true crime leads the public unbothered in the face of violent crimes. Her content, as well as others, is the epitome of sensationalizing true crime. If I ever get brutally murdered and my story gets turned into a makeup tutorial true crime video, I will haunt every single one of you, and that is a promise.