YouTuber Shane Dawson is always in the news lately, but not for the reasons he wants to be.
You’ve probably heard the name in some capacity, but for those who aren’t super familiar, Shane Dawson is a famous YouTuber best known for the revolutionary, multi-part series he posts on his channel. Other YouTubers like Jeffree Star, Jake Paul, and Tana Mongeau have all been the subject of these documentary-like series, while other series focus on more conspiracy theory-related topics.
Most recently, Shane was responsible for shedding light on the wild conspiracy theory that Chuck E Cheese’s might be recycling uneaten pieces of pizzas and giving them to other customers for consumption.
However, Shane’s beef with Mr. Cheese is now the least of his worries. Shane has been at the center of several controversies throughout his career, the newest one being that he had…sexual relations with his cat. That’s right, I actually had to type that sentence. After someone unsurfaced an old podcast of Shane and Friends—Shane’s old podcast series—it was revealed that Shane made a grotesque joke about doing unspeakable things to his cat. The audio of the podcast was recently scrubbed from the internet.
Of course, Shane came out and denied the claims, calling them a sick joke “based on an old sketch idea” that fortunately was never produced. That being said, this isn’t the first time Shane has been called on to apologize for videos or jokes made in the past. Shane has made several apology videos, one of which was for a pedophilic joke, and the other about blackface and other racist jokes made in past videos of his.
And just on time, here comes the cancel culture train pulling into the station. But before you hop on board, hear me out: I don’t think we should cancel Shane Dawson just yet.
This post in no way is me trying to excuse Shane’s past actions. Obviously, his off-color, racist, and all-around horrible jokes and sketches from his past are inexcusable. They are actions that are not easily forgotten, especially for those who were harmed by them. Just because shock comedy was what was “funny” back then doesn’t mean it was and is okay to say/do.
Despite this, Shane has answered several times for past transgressions. Every time some new “scandal” gets uncovered, he immediately faces the accusations and gives reasons as to where his mind was at the time, and how he believes he and his content have changed as he’s grown as a person.
Honestly, I believe Shane when he says he’s changed because it’s evident in the work he produces nowadays. Transitioning from the sketch comedy into more serious—and yet still lighthearted—content, Shane has managed to produce some really powerful and moving series, along with some more hilarious ones as well.
In his latest conspiracy series, aside from all the bizarre theories he uncovers, Shane takes a moment to give light to some more serious topics. During the series, Shane visits a northern California neighborhood that was utterly destroyed by the California wildfires in 2018. Having just moved to a new home that was right in the path of destruction as the fires raged, Shane shares the feelings of desperation and sadness with his fellow Californians. Also, in this latest series, Shane talks with old friend and fellow YouTuber Brittany Louise Taylor about her terrifying experience of being catfished online, then almost falling prey to a potential human trafficker whose baby she mothered.
Other series topics include Shane spending a day as a blind person with blind YouTuber Molly Burke. He also lets her drive his car in this series, which is wild because hello, she cannot see is everyone okay? Spoiler alert: she’s actually a pretty good driver.
Shane Dawson isn’t a saint. No one is. His situation reminds me a lot of James Gunn, director of Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy, who was fired for old tweets containing offensive jokes from almost ten years ago. Gunn had previously apologized for the tweets, just as Shane had. Again, there’s no excuse, but does no excuse mean there’s also no room for change?
Have we gotten to the point in our society where we no longer allow people to change? In this cancel culture, is there no room for growth? Canceling people is more serious than it sounds. It’s more than a hashtag—it’s the erasure of an entire person’s career.
I know I would be devastated to see Shane no longer making content. Just as Shane was starting to create his YouTube series, I was starting college. Freshman year was a really lonely time for me, and there was very little I could find solace in when I felt totally lost in the crowd.
Some nights, when I would eat dinner alone in my dorm room (it’s not as sad as it sounds, I promise), I would throw on one of Shane’s videos to watch. It made me feel a whole lot less alone, watching Shane and his friends tour the Queen Mary trying to see some paranormal activity, or to laugh as Shane tried to console an ugly-crying Tana Mongeau.
She’s like the new Kim Kardashian meme. The thumbnail of the video says it all.
Without Shane’s videos, I’m not sure I could have pulled through those feelings of sadness. I mean that when I say it. Maybe it sounds dramatic, but Shane really saved my college career, as well as my sanity. And I know from talking with others that he does the same for many people in this world. His series bring an entire 30-something millions of people together to laugh, cry, and enjoy as one.
Shane Dawson shouldn’t be #cancelled, period. Despite all of the horrible, offensive things he’s done in his past, his actions—as well as his content as of late—demonstrates a person who is committed to change, and who ultimately wants to bring people together instead of tearing them apart.