Shane Dawson’s Love Letter to His Audience, and Hopefully, to Himself

Photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license

Photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license

Mary Kelley, Scarlet Staff

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Two weeks prior to the publication of this paper, YouTuber Shane Dawson released the trailer from his newest docu-series. Dawson has 22.6 million subscribers on Youtube and has been consistently creating content since 2008, being considered one of the “original” YouTubers, having maintained consistent popularity despite many controversies. 

Dawson’s content was originally shock factor comedy, sometimes crossing the line into overt racism and sexism. He has made some terrible jokes and suffered the consequences. In the last year or so, he has been in a plethora of controversies after clips of offensive comments from his over 10 years of work surfaced. Despite this, Dawson has maintained a strong, passionate fanbase.

In 2015, Dawson came out as bisexual, and his audience started to observe the beginning of a public journey to happiness. In 2016, he began a public relationship with fellow Youtuber Ryland Adams, and gradually started to change his content. At first, Dawson struggled with this change; he was posting an obnoxious amount of reactions, recreation, and microwaving videos, which were fun, but uninspired. This was most likely connected to his efforts to appease YouTube’s algorithm and maintain stability.

The ominous algorithm determines how Youtube decides to recommend videos. This essentially means that videos that Youtube does not “like” will not get as many views or make as much revenue for the individual creator. To stay on the good side of the algorithm, creators censor themselves and avoid profanity. Dawson’s initial change in content could have been connected to these policies but grew into a still growing number of high quality docu-series. 

In 2018, Dawson released a series focused on fellow YouTuber, Grav3yardgirl, and her declining channel. The video started as an extension of his series on conspiracy theories, that had been popular for years. Dawson and Grav3yardgirl received much support from their audiences. This was the impetus for Dawson’s far more formal change in content. 

The creator began to devote his platform to giving a voice to other “influencers.” Dawson has a history of highlighting smaller channels, like Bobby Burns, Sophie Pecora, or looking further back, he essentially kicked off Alexis G. Zall’s career. He continues to support smaller channels, but he also looks to help bigger channels navigate their way through YouTube.

 Dawson has faced his fair share of controversies, plenty of which he made worse with before they had a chance to “blow over.” His experience with the varying audience, climates, and how content ages, lends itself to helping others’ survive similar experiences. 

On Sunday, September 29, Dawson dropped the trailer for his newest series. His point of focus seems to be controversial YouTuber, Jeffree Star. Like Dawson, Star’s long public career has involved controversy over racist jokes and statements, but Star has similarly maintained popularity.

Last year, Dawson debuted “The Secret World of Jeffree Star,” which was wildly successful for both creators. Dawson redeemed Star in the eyes of the Youtube audience, making the beauty guru seem personable and real. 

The series led not only to success, but a new friendship between Dawson and Star. This led to Dawson’s new series, “The Beautiful World of Jeffree Star.” Two episodes have been released as of October 6th and in those two episodes the audience has been exposed to a much more vulnerable Dawson, revealing domestic scenes of intimacy with Adams, honest conversations about body image and anxiety, and fears regarding his finances. An audience that has grown and evolved with Dawson is now finally seeing him in entirety. His foibles and insecurities have been known but on a much more surface and comedic level, Dawson is exposing himself more than anyone in this new docu-series.

The series is a vulnerable depiction of Dawson’s life. He lays bare his fears and insecurities, while entering another new phase in his life. He is openly discussing his body dysmorphia, new-found love of cosmetics, and his relationships with other YouTube creators.

My hopes for this series is that it will give us a better understanding of who Dawson is still friends with, those who he has lost touch with, and those who have remained key members of his family. I want to see his perspective of James Charles’ recent scandal or Tati Westbrook’s video addressing Charles. I want to have more inside scoop on the beauty community as a whole. I want plenty of hours of content to digest and enjoy, but my highest hope and deepest want is for Shane to be genuine. I truly believe that when people share their authentic selves with the world it becomes a better place.