The world is a sad and scary place. All sorts of terrible people exist; you only have to turn on the news each day to discover a new story of deceit, murder or something as equally disturbing. Fortunately, there are a number of outlets and platforms that allow us to escape the bad, sit back and relax. Whether it’s Netflix, YouTube or something else entirely, entertainers from across the globe dedicate their lives to giving us all something to enjoy, but even Hollywood isn’t a sacred place.
In recent months, the floodgates of sexual assault and harassment within the industry were finally opened. Women and men were and still are standing up and speaking out against their former oppressors, taking back control in a world that had so many cards stacked against them. As victims shouted “Me Too” and “Time’s Up”, the majority of those listening smiled right back at them. They were creating a better world. One that those who come after us will be thankful to be a part of.
Around 12 months ago, I turned back to YouTube as a form of entertainment. It was a world I had fallen out of love with a number of years ago, but when a friend of mine sent me a Shane Dawson conspiracy video, my interest was piqued. Before long, I was hooked. They were at times brilliantly funny, and at other times incredibly dark. Shane would tell stories to his millions of subscribers about men still working in Hollywood despite being found guilty of child sexual abuse in the past, and it left the viewers genuinely questioning why that had happened. He was becoming a positive beacon of light in a community that itself was marred with such controversy, sparking important conversations. His content had truly taken a turn for the better and he was setting a high standard – not just with his conspiracy series, but with his other regular uploads – that other YouTubers aspired to.
The top of the pack isn’t a place Shane has always been, at least quality-wise. This wasn’t my first rodeo with the YouTube star. I’d been a fan in my teen years for a short while, but quickly found his content bordering on the inexcusable on a number of occasions. This is something Shane admits himself. He says in a recent video that he went for the “easy jokes”, attempting to shock people into laughter with what he would come out with. He was a lazy comedian, resting on controversies for clicks, views and revenue. A smart strategy, some would say, but one that landed him in hot water a number of times.
Around four (or more) years back, Shane was speaking about Instagram in an episode of his podcast series. Telling a story about how a young girl – around six-years-old – had approached him whilst he was drinking coffee, he explained how she had given him her Instagram account, on which over 100,000 accounts were following her. There, she posted pictures in cheerleader gear, which led to the taboo topic of paedophilia being brought up on the show. This isn’t an area any smart person would go to in a bid to get laughs, but as formerly mentioned, Shane wasn’t relying on clever humour in his previous years.
Forcing the conversation to continue with his clearly uncomfortable co-host, Shane would go on to suggest he had searched Google for child pornography: “I went to Google and I’m like, I want to see. I didn’t want to see child porn, I just wanted to see like – OK, let me just pretend like I’m a paedophile for a sec.”
The YouTuber continued: “So I typed in ‘naked baby’. First of all, I don’t understand why anybody would be turned on by that. But, they were sexy… I’m kidding.”
Vile jokes, right? Something Shane would now immediately admit. He does as much a number of times in his channel’s most recent upload, which you can view below:
So whilst we condemn this behaviour, it is in no way any sort of proof that Shane Dawson is a paedophile, as has been said. The allegation was made in a video by a channel on YouTube called Pop Blast – which has now been removed – and something that a number of mainstream news outlets immediately jumped on. Headlines such as “Shane Dawson Admits Searching For Naked Babies On Google” hit the trending topics, and the YouTuber has been hit hard with a flurry of aggressive and negative messages on social media.
Taking to his social media accounts to dispute the accusations, Shane said: “I grew up. I changed my content. I apologized countless times for my s****y 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.”
Still, almost 24 hours on and I cannot find a single headline that categorically confirms that Shane Dawson is not a paedophile. It’s hard to even find stories that state there’s not a shred of evidence to suggest he is the predator he's been made out to be.
Seeing real dangers to society taken down by important movements such as ‘Me Too’ and ‘Time’s Up’ is one of the best feelings ever. It is incredible work done by a lot of brave and smart people. To try and jump on that for YouTube views, news article clicks and other forms of online stimulation is disgusting.
Shane Dawson is somebody who claims to have been molested as a youngster. He is someone who has been through the mill throughout his life, which he is extremely open about on his YouTube channel. Going into this year, he had kick-started a relationship with his father for what seems to be the first time in his life since he left the family in Shane’s childhood. He even took it upon himself to fly out a former ‘hater’ to his house, talk through their issues and become close friends with the person.
Sharing 90% of his life with his YouTube subscribers, Shane is of course getting over this heavy bump in the road pubicly with his fans. Though he is understandably hurt and confused right now, I sincerely hope that this controversy won’t be enough to put him off the idea of continuing to live his life in the YouTube spotlight, and make engaging and important videos. And, quite frankly, I hope he makes some coin from this whole debacle.
Calling someone a paedophile without proof isn’t something that should be able to just disappear. Everybody needs to be held accountable for their actions. In this case, that’s not Shane Dawson. It’s the YouTube uploader who started this whole thing, and every publication that jumped on it and accused Shane of despicable acts from that point. Shane has held his hands up about his past. Now it’s time for the tables to turn.