Does This Hold Up?: Shane Dawson


No. No he doesn’t. Absolutely nothing about this man, or his content, holds up.

For starters, I need to give a warning as some of the stuff I will be discussing in this article is genuinely upsetting. If you are averse to things like pedophilic behavior, racism, and beastiality (no, I’m not kidding), this is going to be a tough read.

This is going to be less of a “Does This Hold Up” article and more of a cautionary tale, a lesson in what happens when one man builds an online empire off of hate and blatant exploitation, and how that abuse of power can go completely unchecked for so long.

For some background, Shane Dawson, real name Shane Yaw, is an internet personality who started on YouTube in 2008, and has been going strong since. On the surface, he was a sketch comedian who garnered a young audience in the early days of the website and used his filmmaking skills to expand to films and, eventually, self-produced documentaries. However, with all this success and praise, there’s been a train of harsh criticism following him, and that’s because there’s an insidious undercurrent that has followed his entire career.

This undercurrent rose to the surface in June 2020, and the tsunami it caused permanently ruined his career. I will link a video by D’Angelo Wallace at the bottom of this article, as it goes into grave details about everything I will be bringing up.

Shane’s early career was as a sketch comedian. He wrote and performed skits by himself and performed all the characters. It sounds all fine and dandy, until you see what was actually happening.

He had a character called “Shanaynay” which was a cheap amalgamation of every black character stereotype in every bad comedy you’ve ever seen. This character was not a one-off. I mentioned racism earlier and I wasn’t kidding, nor did I truly communicate how severe it was. He would “dress up” as Tyra Banks, Wendy Williams, Tia and Tamera Mowry from the show Sister, Sister, Will Smith, and sometimes he would do blackface, just because he could.

He’s known more recently for the makeup palettes he made with Jeffree Star (which in and of itself is questionable), but Shane has legitimately done more blackface than makeup looks, and that’s not an exaggeration. On top of that, he has boldly said the N-word multiple times on camera, not just when he would be by himself in skits or vlogs, but also in front of black actors. He also had the POC in his skits act dumb and ignorant every single time, to the point where it was a recurring theme in his content.

Shane was running a low-budget, DIY minstrel show for children on YouTube and essentially revived cheap racially charged insult comedy for the internet age. This was only the tip of the iceberg.

Like with the racism above, there’s too much weird/creepy activity around children and animals to be able to condense it into one article, and all of it is repulsive beyond belief, so I’m going to rapid-fire rattle off specific incidents so you understand how severe it is. Keep in mind, Shane was in his 20s by this time all this happened:

  • He made a 12-year-old girl twerk for him and his mom on Omegle
  • He kissed a 12-year-old fan on the lips at a meet and greet
  • He swapped gum with a 15-year-old fan at another meet and greet
  • He posed inappropriately with nearly every single underage fan at his meet and greets
  • He had his girlfriend re-enact sex with a peep in front of his 12-year-old cousin (I wasn’t kidding, y’all)
  • He repeatedly called a 6-year-old girl “sexy” on an episode of his Shane and Friends podcast
  • He pretended to “gratify” himself to a picture of Willow Smith (Willow was 11 years old at the time)
  • He constantly joked about being attracted to child celebrities like Fred, Rebecca Black, Lia Marie Johnson, and others
  • He made a video series with the Fine Bros called “Hey It’s Milly” based around an 8-year-old puppet whose sole character trait was that she was sexually abused
  • He made frequent jokes about having sex with animals for years
  • He (may have) had sex with his cat
  • He’s made out with and humped dogs on camera

Again, there’s more, but I can’t possibly condense all of it here.

How did all of this go unchecked for so long? Well, when he started out, YouTube was not the multi-armed corporate machine widely available and known to the mainstream, like it is now. The website was smaller and something only kids really knew how to use. The only people paying attention to and actively watching Shane’s videos were children that didn’t know any better and couldn’t grasp the harm that he was causing.

Other content creators did try to call him out and get through to him, but because Shane was making money and had achieved internet celebrity status, he didn’t care and kept it going.

Shane hasn’t said or done anything since June 2020; the time period that he ruined his career for good. He made comments about the online beauty community being too “toxic,” so the beauty community found hundreds of clips of all the behavior I listed above and made hundreds of Twitter threads and compilation videos. Shane reacted to it by deleting 1.18 billion views worth of content from his three channels before uploading a 20-minute video called “Taking Accountability.”

The video ultimately did him no favors, as after the video came out, more and more threads of clips he didn’t mention and didn’t want people seeing were coming to light. Four days after the video came out, he had a breakdown on an Instagram livestream and quickly stopped streaming when his fiancé told him to. Aside from a handful of Instagram stories, this was the last people have really heard from him.

So, is there a lesson in all this insanity? I mean, there’s the lesson of calling out toxic behaviors whenever you see it, but how do you get through to someone who doesn’t seem to want to change? Especially when it comes to hateful content, remarks about POC, and sexually exploiting children? That is the point where I would advocate for de-platforming.

Shane’s story is a cautionary tale of what greed, hate, and grade-A gaslighting can do to a generation who are too young to grasp what’s happening in front of them. There are other people like him on the internet, and it’s our responsibility as viewers to openly condemn these actions.

For the full context and details of everything I mentioned above, I once again recommend watching the video I’ve linked below. It’s a long and uncomfortable 73-minute watch, but it’s important to understand just how problematic Shane Dawson and his content is.

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Sam is an NEC student, writer, and musician from Nashua, NH. He is studying Creative Writing.
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