Months of erratic social-media activity from Brandon Truaxe, the founder of the wildly successful beauty startup Deciem, came to a head earlier this week, when Truaxe announced in a long, rambling Instagram video — geotagged to the White House — that Deciem would be shutting down all operations, effective immediately.
"Almost everyone at Deciem has been involved in major criminal activity, which includes financial crimes and much others," Truaxe tells the camera, from the backseat of a car. In the post's equally befuddling caption, he lists a number of companies (H&M, Too Faced, IT Cosmetics), celebrities (Ben Affleck, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Steven Spielberg), and other entities (beauty blogger Caroline Hirons, British-Indian café chain Dishoom, luxury hotel group Aman Resorts, "$100 monkey"), including industry giant The Estée Lauder Companies, which invested in Deciem last year. He writes, "Goodbye also. Peace is coming. It's clear now."
To most viewers, the entire scenario looks like the incoherent, painful-to-watch raving of someone whose mental illness has gone horribly unchecked, with dire, career-ending consequences. They are fans concerned about Truaxe, and concerned even more so about where they will get their cheap niacinamide now that the brick-and-mortar stores are eerily empty and the Deciem website has been replaced with a blank red page. To others, the bizarre posting, in the context of Truaxe's other ramblings, is a call to action, a signal of a revolution — one that has turned Truaxe into an unlikely hero of the alt-right, where the pro-Trump conspiracy theorists who call themselves QAnon are welcoming the embattled beauty maverick with open arms.
What the followers of these fringe groups think they're piecing together is a worldwide scheme that Truaxe is risking his life to expose. The shared belief is that Truaxe has supposedly witnessed firsthand a cycle of corruption and crime that goes to the very top of Hollywood and politicians, sanctioned by those he names, and he wants to expose it all. This is why he frequently tags Donald Trump in the captions of his posts. This is why he uses his bestselling company's Instagram account, with its 370,000 followers, to criticise Michael Moore. This is why he reposted a screenshot from a Wall Street Journal article about the suspected ricin found in mail sent to the Pentagon. This is why the company's page has gone red, like the pill. This is why, in a number of incoherent posts dating back to February — and as recently as yesterday — he has begged for "help".
The perceived martyrdom of Truaxe prevails in the comments of his Instagram posts, where QAnon supporters — including Isaac Kappy, an actor who had minor roles in movies including Thor and Fanboys but is now mainly seen on Alex Jones' Infowars publicly accusing A-list celebrities of running child sex rings and in a shocking TMZ story involving Paris Jackson — encourage him, as well as on Reddit, where this sort of thing tends to thrive in its more niche communities. Yesterday, a story published on this website regarding Deciem's closure was shared to both /r/The_Donald and /r/conspiracy by the same user, who wrote, "Deciem Founder Brandon Truaxe Announces He's Shutting Down The Company – Calls out MAJOR scandal covering thousands of huge names in Hollywood, porn, cosmetics, even Tim Cook. Says a revolution is coming!"
The first comment in the thread references Arkancide, the long-running conspiracy theory that the Clintons are cold-blooded murderers who have no problem getting "rid of" those who could bear as witnesses to their alleged misdeeds. It's an absurd theory and speaks to a wider, more dangerous ideology, at that; these are the same people who baselessly alleged that the Democratic party was running a child sex trafficking operation out of a Washington, DC pizza parlour, accusations that culminated in a man storming the restaurant and firing a rifle inside. They are the same people who believe that the Illuminati are real and that the Rothschild family is responsible for all the world's ills, and that Barack Obama is part of a sleeper cell sent from Africa to destroy the United States — and they've embraced Truaxe as one of their own.
To the non-Pizzagate-believing mind, Truaxe is not a whistleblower but rather the perfect example of the kind of fear and paranoia that the current political spectrum, in tandem with the internet, has fostered and given voice to. It's unclear what will happen to the company and its cult-favourite products; we've reached out to both Deciem and Estée Lauder for further comment, and will update this story when we hear back.