Cancelling David Dobrik

Big Brands Kick David Dobrik In The Wake Of His Involement With Sexual Assault Accusations

Constance Wright and Mary Kelley

On March 16, 2021 Business Insider published an article by Kat Tenbarge interviewing the victims of a sexual assault perpetuated by a member of David Dobrik’s “Vlogsquad” and Dom Zeglaitis, known as Durte Dom, that was filmed and uploaded to Dobrik’s YouTube channel in 2018. The circumstances surrounding the assault were filmed as part of the vlog and focused on David trying to set up a “fivesome” with a group of women they connected with on Instagram initially.

Once the women arrived, they stated in the video that they had no interest in having sex with Zeglaitis, who was ten years their senior.

The six women who were all under the legal drinking age, were pressured to drink alcohol that David allegedly prompted Vlog Squad members Todd Smith and Jeff Wittek to go buy to “loosen them [the six women] up.” After some period of time, the since-then-deleted but recovered vlog footage shows members of the squad peeking into a dark room where Zeglaitis was allegedly having a threesome with two of the women. One of the victims who has now come forward, who  Business Insider fictitiously referred to as Hannah (an alias to protect the identity of the victim), was 20 years old at the time and was open about how drunk she became at the encouragement of the Vlog Squad. The other victim that was in the room alleged that Hannah would at times “fall asleep” during the assault.

Hannah did not fully understand what happened to her. After the assault, Hannah’s friends had to re-dress her and induce her to vomit, eventually carrying her home until days later when she finally fully sobered up. The video was a viral success and Hannah was recognized and praised by Dobrik’s fans following the assault, all the while coping with the reality and trauma of her assault.

This was not the first scandal Dobrik has faced. Previously, Dobrik faced repercussions for racist content including blackface. He publicly apologized and moved away from blatant racist content. 

In February of 2021, former Vlog Squad member Seth Francois accused Jason Nash of sexual assault, at the encouragement of David Dobrik, which was used as photage for a “prank video.” In this video Nash, a 47-year-old man, donned an old man mask and posed as Corrina Kopf, another younger female Vlog Squad member, who Francois was willing to kiss. Nash proceeded to not only kiss Francois, but sexually grope him as well. 

In a podcast posted directly after that video was uploaded, Dobrik spoke about the prank and acknowledged how Seth’s position as a Black man makes the joke “funnier” because he was going to receive a lot of negative feedback. Francios was vocal about his discomfort and the lack of consent in the situation, yet Dobrik went to extreme measures to “prank” Francois again. In this “prank,”Dobrik created the illusion that Francois was cast in a big beef jerky commercial; even going as far as creating a fake set, website, hiring a crew, and actually filming a commercial.

Within this commercial, Francois was asked on set to aggressively make out with women in Gorilla suits, one of which was secretly Jason Nash. Francois later discussed how uncomfortable and racist the commercial seemed, especially in retrospect with Dobrik plotting the set and video commercial.

The second assault, combined with other personal drama between Dobrik and Francois, led to Francois publically leaving the Vlog Squad. Dobrik also cut off Francois since he “couldn’t take a joke.” Francois broke his story in an interview on an H3H3 podcast called Frenemies. Frenemies was the first platform to formally come out against David Dobrik and his Vlog Squad. Trisha Paytas, a controversial YouTuber and Frenemies co-host, was able to corroborate some aspects of Francois’ story and validate other victims who had yet to come forward. Paytas is not necessarily a reputable source. She has a history of mental illness and substantial drug use, but she is not the only one speaking against Dobrik. She is also not the only source of evidence. Dobrik posted everything mentioned in various vlogs and prank videos. He spoke about the incidents on his various podcasts and other platforms. Most of this content has been taken down by Dorbrik but there are plenty of fans who saved his videos and are able to reupload them as concrete evidence of Hannah’s and Seth’s sexual assaults.

One aspect that the H3H3 podcast focused on is the lack of monetary compensation that Dobrik gives to Vlog Squad members. According to Francois, members of the Vlog Squad are expected to be available and ready to film at the drop of a hat. They are expected to exaggerate their reactions and laugh at any joke even if it is offensive. Dobrik did not regularly compensate them for their time or their participation in his videos, which would garner millions of views and hundreds of thousands of dollars of ad revenue and paid sponsorships. The video featuring a blackout drunk Hannah was monetized until very recently. Francois had only agreed to be in the faux advertisement because he was out of work and in need of a paycheck. He was promised $1,500 for the gig and had to allegedly beg Dobrik to be paid the promised amount, after being sexually assaulted for the second time by Nash. Later, Francios came to Dobrik to ask to have the videos removed while Dobrik offered money and remained unwilling to remove the videos. 

On the same day the Insider article was released, Dobrik uploaded a YouTube video called “Let’s Talk” where he apologized to Seth and reiterated that he no longer associates with Zeglaitis, or any of his later actions. This was posted on one of Dobrik’s smaller secondary channels called VIEWS that has 1.7 million subscribers rather than his self-titled channel David Dobrik, which has 18.7 million subscribers. The comments and likes/dislikes were disabled on the “Let’s Talk” video. 

Two of Vlog Squad members have also posted their responses to the current accusations: Scotty Sire and Jeff Wittick, though neither seemed to address the actual victim’s claims and rather blindly defended Dobrik as they personally knew him to be better than those claims paint him to be. These videos did not help Dobrik’s situation and were rather positively received by loyal fans. Since then H3H3 has not stopped covering the story.

More and more stories are coming out against Dobrik and his Vlog Squad members, and unlike before, these stories are no longer going unheard and censored. Brands that have now publicly dropped Dobrik and severed all ties, notably DoorDash, HelloFresh, General Mills, EA Sports, Dollar Shave Club, and Audible. Dobrik was also a co-owner of Angel City Football Club, who have also removed him as an owner.

Dobrik is an imposing figure just as the Business Insider article calls him the “Gen Z’s Jimmy Fallon.” The creator has accumulated 8.2 billion views on YouTube, as well as 18.7 million followers, making him a massive influencer on the platform. He has also achieved a great deal of “mainstream” success marked by winning a Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, hosted a Spongebob Fan Special, and voice acted in The Angry Birds Movie. Chipotle, who has also dropped the influencer, has frequently sponsored the internet personality including a limited run burrito named after “Dobrik.” Nickelodeon has not yet made a public statement about the status of the company’s relationship with Dobrik.

This is an ongoing story. The Business Insider article is motivating other victims to speak out against the toxic atmosphere that Dobrik has fostered while creating his content. More and more videos featuring inappropriate actions as well as behind the scenes voice memos and text conversations are coming to light. Dobrik and his (legal) team are still denying that anything happened at their behest or to their knowledge, even with the videos surfacing that corroborate the victims’ statements. While the Insider article has more comprehensive coverage of Hannah’s story, the H3H3 podcasts will continue to broadcast this story until Dobrik faces the consequences for his actions.