Shane Dawson: YouTube’s savior or sinner?

Jen Joseph

This week, YouTube viewers will see the name Shane Dawson on the trending tab several times as the Youtube star’s nine-part series with makeup guru and designer Jeffree Star continues. To those bold enough not to care about the YouTube beauty and drama communities, the series is basically about the pair working on a palette together while also discussing other makeup brands and influencers who have been embroiled in controversy. Why should we care? To any grownups reading who haven’t heard of any of these people, know that Dawson and Star together have a combined channel subscriber count of 39 million. That’s a lot of eyes.

We are at a point in history where YouTube is gaining significant influence with young people, and corporations are only beginning to conceive of the marketing potential the platform holds. The symbiotic relationship of the makeup, social media presence, and the response of the public has allowed Dawson and Star to thrive there. I would be remiss not to mention the controversies associated with both of these creators. Star made racist jokes in the past that included the use of the n-word, something for which he has apologized; and while generally better liked than Star, Dawson has come under similar fire for jokes from his past, when his YouTube life was focused primarily on shock humor.

Dawson’s more recent approach to content has been to produce docuseries, which typically involve interviews with controversial YouTubers. Dawson has a tendency to pick members of the YouTube community whom we might consider bad actors- people like Jake Paul, Tana Mongeau, and of course Jeffree Star himself, who have been repeatedly exposed for their selfish and poorly-thought our actions, and talk to them. Time and time again, Dawson tries to play a sort of devil’s advocate for these characters.

This brings us back to my earlier question. Why, oh why, should we care? Dawson certainly wants us to care. He’s already dedicated one docuseries to Star, and now he’s made another insanely long follow-up that will eventually lead to his palette. To put it simply, this is going to make both Star and Dawson a lot of money, and it’ll serve as a nice ego boost for the two of them as they take the top spots on the YouTube totem pole.

But is the only reason Dawson does these series to make money and to fix his own image from mistakes in his past?

One would hope not, but ultimately, this dumb new YouTube thing is what you make of it, and if these creators aren’t supporting those whom you think actually deserve support, the best thing to do is vote with your view. But whatever you decide, please don’t buy a piggy hand-mirror. That’s just plain tacky, folks.