Who Cares about Shane Dawson?

By Kayla Bollers

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If you’re a YouTube addict like me, then you’ve probably noticed Shane Dawson’s new series featuring Jeffree Star trending or in your recommended feed. Each episode in this multi-part series exceeds 50 minutes and has millions of views.

Courtesy photo: Uploaded by Cheyenne Smith https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/289778557271905160/)

Who is Shane Dawson? Arguably the most iconic YouTuber of 2019.

If you aren’t wasting your Saturday afternoons binging YouTube vlogs and beauty community drama, then you might not know what I’m talking about. In that case, you may be asking yourself, what’s the big deal? Why is this Shane guy so popular?

Well, as a relatively new Shane Dawson fan, I was wondering the same thing. So, I did some research, and this is what I found out:

The Docuseries

About three years ago, Shane Dawson’s videos shifted from short, goofy sketches and ridiculous taste tests to emotional and dramatic documentary series, or as he’s coined them, his “docuseries.” Within this genre, Shane focuses on the lives of popular and controversial YouTubers from a behind-the-scenes perspective, offering exclusive content that aims to reveal these influencers’ truth. These videos, though heavily edited, showcase a raw and vlog-like feel that, when coupled with Shane’s style of humor, provides his viewers with a sense of intimacy regarding the events that unfold.

One reason that the docuseries is such a hit on YouTube is because Shane documents subjects that are relevant and timely to a significant portion of YouTube’s audience. The most outstanding example is his Tanacon series, filmed immediately after the failure of a convention organized by Tana Mongeau, which she designed to rival YouTube’s Vidcon. Shane released the first episode of this series six days after Tanacon’s disastrous shut-down. When the Internet was hungry for credible answers to their questions about the crisis, Shane’s honest and heartfelt videos satiated their curiosity and provided catharsis.

The docuseries as a long-form, creatively edited narrative also provides a higher quality of entertainment not produced anywhere else on YouTube. As a passionate and experienced filmmaker and the trendsetter for this sort of genre, Shane is hardly competing with the sparse copycats in his lane for views. Not only do Shane’s videos consist of his primary footage, but he also edits in clips from YouTube’s news channels, drama channels, and popular personas to provide a meta-commentary as events continue to unfold. Shane has the advantage of releasing these videos in a multi-part series, allowing him to respond to ongoing discussion through his editing. Although these videos take up to a year to produce, the payoff is well worth the wait considering both the quality of Shane’s content, and the fact that he makes regular appearances on his fiancé’s channel, Ryland Adams, as a part of his bimonthly vlogs. 

Shane’s Personality

Part of Shane’s “style” of content has everything to do with his personality. It is the very reason his videos are successful in accomplishing their goal in the first place. It takes a special kind of person to walk into a crisis, get a controversial figure to open up, and illuminate someone’s redeeming qualities while simultaneously delivering the truth. 

The reason we cannot divorce Shane’s personality from his content is because the traits that make him so unique are, sadly, rare to see on display from our beloved influencers.

On camera, Shane is kind, selfless, and humble. And while it is debatable whether these traits summarize his true self, they are unique to him in the fact that most popular influencers put on a cool, cocky, and self absorbed facade. Without Shane Dawson connecting so deeply to the likes of Jeffree Star, the self-made billionaire would be near impossible to empathize with. In fact, some argue that Shane saved Jeffree’s career through his series in the summer of 2018 called “The Secret World of Jeffree Star” by unveiling a side of Jeffree worth redeeming. And, while it is not the most constructive trait, Shane’s self deprecation and the humor that accompanies it is nothing if not relatable. 

Secondly, Shane is honest and transparent with his viewers. When things don’t go according to plan, instead of editing around these mishaps, he includes these moments and reflects on them. I can’t think of one docuseries in which Shane isn’t expressing some form of fear, insecurity, or concern, and that’s something that makes him an underdog worth rooting for. We want Shane to succeed, to overcome obstacles, and to conquer everything holding him back. 

But the biggest reason we can’t help but love Shane is due to his ability to connect with others and help them to express their truth.

Ryland Adams, Morgan Adams, and Andrew Siwicki have become a regular cast of characters in many of Shane’s series. Through their interactions, it is evident to any viewer that all three of these people light up and become more easy-going when Shane is in the room. We see the same phenomenon with all the influencers that Shane documents as subjects throughout his series. Though their time together is often short, Shane slowly draws out the best in people like Bunny Meyers, Jeffree Star, and even Jake Paul. This uncanny ability has led Shane to be dubbed (and self-proclaimed) the “Oprah” and “Dr. Phil” of the YouTube world.

A Steady Track Record

And of course, who better to step into the world of controversies than a controversial figure themselves? As a former shock comedian and a YouTuber with a 10 year history, Shane Dawson has plenty of problematic incidents on his record, mainly involving irresponsible racial and sexual remarks. The main difference between Shane and most YouTubers who suffered a controversy is that in the face of scathing public criticism, Shane took direct responsibility for his actions and issued a prompt and appropriate apology. More importantly, Shane made a permanent departure from his problematic tendencies and stands consistently by his values, allowing him to repair his track record in the eyes of the public despite any new controversies brought up from his past. 

A great example of Shane’s resilience is the incident on Twitter this past March in which Shane was accused of engaging in sexual behavior with his cat due to a joke made years ago on his podcast. Although the incident raged on for an entire day, upon issuing his 7 part apology, the commotion died down and the controversy wilted due to a lack of evidence that Shane is anything like his former self.

The Takeaway

Obviously, his fans care a whole lot about him. More importantly, they support him as a creator through the consumption of his content, and trust him as a valid and reliable source of information. Despite some of his obvious biases, i.e., his friendship with Jeffree Star, which sways his view of the beauty community, people come to Shane because he promises to show them the real inside scoop.

These realizations pose some important questions: Should we be trusting Shane Dawson, and is he a morally good person? That, my fellow YouTube addicts, is up to you to decide.