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 Made Inappropriate Comments About Willow Smith When She Was 11 Years Old
On June 26, 2020, Dawson posted a video called "Taking Accountability," in which he apologizes for his past mistakes. One of those mistakes came to light in a recently resurfaced video of Dawson performing lewd acts in front of a poster of an 11-year-old Willow Smith.
Smith's brother Jaden responded that he is "disgusted" with Dawson's actions, and that the video is "the furthest thing from funny and not okay in the slightest bit!" Smith's mother, Jada Pinkett Smith, tweeted that she is "done with the excuses."
He Was Accused Of Manipulating The Feud Between Tati Westbrook And James Charles
On June 21, 2020, Shane Dawson posted a series of tweets responding to speculation that he manipulated the 2019 feud between Tati Westbrook and James Charles from behind the scenes. Around the same time the feud met its peak, Dawson joined beauty guru Jeffree Star for a six-part YouTube series called The Beautiful World of Jeffree Star. Though the pair didn't address any of the drama in the actual series, they did allude to it in the trailer.
Dawson lost nearly 20,000 followers after sharing his rant, and said he would be "leaving Twitter for a few months" because of it. Fans were upset at Dawson calling Westbrook, Star, and Charles "dramatic gurus" as well as suggesting Westbrook's Bye Sister video, which nearly led to Charles taking his life, was deserved. One follower countered, "Yes, [Charles] needed a reality check but not one that brought him so close to the edge. As long as you engage with Jeffree you'll never be out of the drama or as innocent as you think."
He Made A Joke About A Crude Act With His Cat, CheetoPhoto: shane / Weird Cat Products I Bought Online
In early 2019, a clip from a now-deleted podcast made its way online where Dawson described his "first [intimate] experience" as being with his cat Cheeto. On the deleted episode of Shane and Friends, Dawson made a raunchy claim involving spent bodily fluids when he was 19 years old.
The episode was recorded in 2015, but it didn't go viral until four years later when a Twitter user found the audio through Google Play Music and posted it online. Understandably, people were unhappy. Dawson apologized in a tweet that began, "I didn't f*ck my cat."
Several Of His Videos Feature Dawson In BlackfacePhoto: Shane Dawson TV / Friends 4 Ever
Dawson's initial YouTube videos featured him playing multiple characters of different races. In a video about the concept of rumors, Dawson plays multiple Latinx women - one of whom is a maid who's in a romantic relationship with a dog - and Wendy Williams.
As Dawson grew as a performer, his earlier videos were taken down and he phased character work out of his repertoire. Whenever someone brought up the videos to Dawson online, he'd block them or ignore the comments. However, in 2014, he addressed the claims of prejudice head-on in a confessional YouTube video.
Dawson told fans that he never meant to come off as a racially insensitive; he simply wanted to shock people, as that was his brand of comedy at the time. He said he would use the controversy as a "learning experience" about what not to do in the future and how to handle criticism better.