What happened to Shane Dawson? Controversies, getting canceled & more

Alice Sjöberg
Shane Dawson Apology Video

Shane Dawson is one of the OG YouTubers who started making videos on YouTube in the early 2000s. But the internet decided to turn its back on him in 2020 as he got canceled for his old videos.

For a long time, Shane Dawson was one of the biggest creators on the platform with millions of followers who loved his comedic videos.

In 2018, he shifted focus from sketch comedy to more documentary-focused videos, beginning with a look at various Internet conspiracy theories, as well as documentaries about controversial content creators.

He even documented the process of creating a makeup line in collaboration with Jeffree Star, which went on to be a huge success.

However, in 2020, his fame came crashing down as the internet decided to cancel him. But what happened and why was he canceled? Here’s everything to know.


Why was Shane Dawson canceled?

In 2020, Dawson was canceled after a video of him making inappropriate gestures at a poster of then-11-year-old Willow Smith circulated on social media went viral.

While some of Dawson’s fans went on to defend him, others went to dig through his old videos and found even more compromising footage of him, including problematic jokes and even a blackface sketch.

Dawson lost over 400,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel, and his collaborative ‘Conspiracy’ makeup line with beauty guru Jeffree Star was removed by Morphe in the wake of the controversy.

Shane Dawson talking
Shane Dawson was called out by Jada Pinkett and Jaden Smith after old footage surfaced of the influencer appearing to sexualize an 11-year-old Willow Smith.

He first took to Twitter and stated he had deleted his old content, before posting an apology video on June 26, 2020.

“I was at least 20 when I started YouTube,” 31-year-old Dawson explained in the video. “I made the decision to play stereotypes of Black people or Asian people or Mexicans… I said, ‘Oh, this is funny,’ and I put it on the internet.”

“When I say I hate that person, I mean it in the most intense way possible,” he continued. “That person was filled with sadness, filled with anger about their own issues, in the closet, constantly projecting on others. …that person is someone I don’t like seeing.”

Dawson also clarified that he’d made his apology video to become “part of a change and not part of a problem,” and went on to claim he would better educate himself and feature more people on his channel other than “white people in trouble.”

Shane Dawson’s return to YouTube

In October 2021, Shane posted another video announcing his return to YouTube, in which he confessed he was “embarrassed over a lot of stuff” in the past. 

He said: “All of that. Awful. Then it snowballed. If I talk about how I really feel, people are going to say ‘Oh you’re trying to get sympathy.’

“I feel like people are going to hate me no matter what, and I kind of just have to accept it.”

He continued: “I think part of me was upset because I made so much growth, and now I’m being canceled over things in the past, and that’s not me anymore…it made me realize that I can’t focus on what other people think of me…I learned a lot.

“I’m so happy it happened.”

Shane Dawson Twins With Ryland Adams
Shane Dawson is now a dad to twin sons, along with his husband Ryland Adams.

What is Shane Dawson doing now?

Shane married his long-term partner Ryland Adams in a ceremony in Colorado on January 3, 2023. The couple also became parents to twin boys in December 2023 after documenting their process with surrogacy.

While Shane has continued to be featured in Ryland’s daily vlogs, he is also back at making his own YouTube videos, which are similar to the ones he made before getting canceled, including more conspiracy videos alongside Jeffrey Star. He also hosts his own podcast, called the Shane Dawson Podcast.