Image from Film Daily.
Shane Yaw, known as Shane Dawson on YouTube, has recently fallen from grace in a complicated scandal. Just a few weeks ago, Shane Dawson was praised for his documentary-style videos ranging from conspiracy theories to coaching for problematic YouTubers (ah, the irony). Now, Shane’s channel has been demonetized by YouTube, and he has lost over a million subscribers on his channel.
The drama started when Shane posted a Twitter thread bashing beauty gurus, specifically James Charles. This didn’t sit well with people and many pointed out Shane’s own problematic past, with instances of blackface and racial slurs, jokes about animal abuse, and allegations of pedophilia. The situation escalated when beauty guru and YouTuber Tati Westbrook posted a video exposing Shane and fellow YouTuber Jeffree Star for allegedly manipulating her into starting a feud with James Charles in 2019, a feud which cost James Charles over 3 million subscribers amid allegations of predatory behavior. (To learn more about the controversy, check out this article and this article, both by Insider.)
Whether you’re familiar with Shane Dawson or not, this situation speaks volumes of the problematic nature of many influencers and YouTube stars. I confess, up until this scandal I was a fan of Shane’s content, and while I was somewhat acquainted with his previous controversies, I too fell for his “I have changed” discourse.
This is no excuse.
If this controversy has taught me anything, it’s the importance of looking into the people who make the content you enjoy. Being unaware doesn’t cut it. You have to do the work, do the research, and find out if the creators you follow are deserving of their status.
One of my biggest concerns as Shane has fallen from grace is the number of people still defending him, claiming that he truly is a different, more mature person and that his recent video, “Taking Accountability,” proves this. Sure, he acknowledges the pain and hurt his racist, problematic content has caused and expresses regret, but this apology comes at a pretty convenient time for him. If he truly regretted his behavior, why didn’t he speak out about it sooner? Why wait until the Internet is uncovering his issues? This apology comes far too late to feel genuine.
In general, YouTuber culture is deeply problematic, putting creators on a pedestal and idolizing them for cranking out content (which 9 times out of 10 is mediocre at best). It reflects a larger issue with a societal need to admire people and see them through a lens of apparent perfection, a lens which diminishes flaws that should be addressed and actively worked on by their beholders. People are imperfect, and just because someone is talented, it doesn’t mean their behaviors are excused.
If we want to avoid more drama and disappointments like Shane Dawson’s, we need to take a closer look at the people we idolize and see them for what they are: regular people in positions of cultural power.
Do you think Shane Dawson is over?
I don’t even know who this is