Considered to be the nicest guy on YouTube, Shane Dawson is a celebrity with millions of followers who hang on his every word. His YouTube videos have more views than the populations of small countries, and his tweets practically leap onto the internet drenched in likes and retweets. But Dawson is no stranger to scandal.
Each of the Shane Dawson controversies that regularly hit the internet centers on something he says in social media posts or his videos, and they usually have to do with crude jokes or racially insensitive comments. Some of the drama also stems from the fact that he spotlights conspiracy theories from far right groups that have little to do with Dawson’s corner of the internet. Dawson claims he’s only trying to shock people, but in some cases, his jokes do more harm than good.
He Said He Was Attracted To A KidPhoto: shane / Regarding the rumors about me today
As Dawson's early work continues to be evaluated, many of his past comments paint him as someone who's willing to say whatever it takes to get a response. In a 2014 episode of Shane and Friends, he recounted a conversation with a 6-year-old fan that ended with him referring to the child as "kind of [attractive]."
Dawson's co-host on the show immediately shut him down, but before moving on, Dawson made a comment that seemed to equate an attraction to minors with a fetish. In 2018, Dawson went on the defensive about these remarks in an apology video where he said that he has grown up and changed his content.
He told fans and critics, "I apologized countless times for my sh*tty offensive jokes. Instead of dragging me down, people should use me as an example of a creator who can change and better themselves and their content. I’m so proud of who I am today."
Dawson Falsely Suggested That Chuck E. Cheese’s Serves Leftover PizzaPhoto: shane / Investigating Conspiracies with Shane Dawson
Two of Dawson's most popular videos comprise an investigative series that delves into major conspiracy theories. The video that stirred the most online fervor was the YouTuber's look into the myth that Chuck E. Cheese’s serves leftover pizza to customers.
The prevailing rumor is that the mouse-led children's pizza restaurant collects the uneaten pizza slices and combines them into an entire pie. Dawson's viewers freaked out and started attacking Chuck E. Cheese's online, which caused the restaurant to respond to Dawson's claims. A spokesperson for the restaurant told The Verge, "The claims made in this video about Chuck E. Cheese’s and our pizza are unequivocally false. No conspiracies here - our pizzas are made to order and we prepare our dough fresh in restaurant, which means that they’re not always perfectly uniform in shape, but always delicious."
He Speculated In A Documentary That Jake Paul Was A SociopathPhoto: shane / The Mind of Jake Paul
In his documentary series about fellow YouTuber Jake Paul, Inside The Mind of Jake Paul, Dawson attempts to figure out what is driving the younger Paul brother and why he continues to find himself in situations that make him look absolutely terrible. In episode 2, "The Dark Side of Jake Paul," Dawson speaks with therapist and YouTuber Kati Morton about whether or not Paul is a sociopath.
Not only does Dawson compare Paul to a sociopath, but the video is also edited to play like a horror film and maligns people with mental disorders. After the video sparked online outrage, Dawson apologized. He said he didn't mean to offend anyone and that the whole situation made him feel "gross and sh*tty."
He Appeared To Endorse Flat Earthers In A VideoPhoto: shane / Mind Blowing Conspiracy Theories
Some of Dawson's biggest videos deal with conspiracy theories, one of which is the flat Earth theory. In short, there's a small contingent of people who believe the Earth is flat. They claim to have evidence to back up this theory, but none of it holds up under scrutiny. Even so, Dawson claims the theory "kind of makes sense."
The controversy over this statement stems from the fact that Dawson's audience is mostly young people who take the things he says at face value. When he says he committed indecent acts with a pet or that the Earth is flat, his fans believe that he's being honest.
According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, most people who believe the flat Earth theory were lead to the conclusion by YouTube. If someone can be convinced by a YouTube video that the Earth is flat, they may be convinced of far more nefarious conspiracies. In spite of the controversy surrounding Dawson's flat Earth views, he hasn't responded in any meaningful way.