How Shane Dawson helped usher in a new era of YouTube


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YouTube has been around since 2005, and it doesn’t seem to be decreasing in relevance or popularity. It has grown from a simple DIY video posting platform to something a bit more complex. Production value has increased, content has (arguably) improved among YouTubers and people have built legitimate empires via their own respective YouTube fan bases. Shane Dawson is no exception. 

Since joining the site in 2008 at the age of nineteen, he has gained nearly 23 million subscribers on his main channel, won four Streamy Awards, a People’s Choice Award, a Teen Choice Award and a Shorty Award—not to mention his huge fanbase.

Dawson started out uploading vulgar, oftentimes offensive sketch comedy videos. The difference between these and his recent content is staggering; Dawson has grown and changed with the times in these past eleven years, and it can be argued that that is how he has managed to stay relevant even among today’s youth.

Dawson’s content morphed with the times. The subject matter both matured with him and changed to suit his audience’s wants. His YouTube channel experienced its most drastic shift in content when Dawson began to upload various documentary-style videos focusing on other YouTubers such as Tana Mongeau, Bunny Meyer, Jake Paul, Trisha Paytas, Eugenia Cooney and most notably, Jeffree Star. 

Dawson was not afraid to tackle other people’s controversy, and it was his apparent quest for the truth that drew in viewers. He sought out everyone’s side to their respective stories and always extended a helping hand where needed. 

This is probably one of Dawson’s most refreshing qualities—he has remained humble despite his fame, influence and wealth. Dawson is an empath, and he is always willing to listen to the subjects of his videos. Dawson is (nearly) always in touch with reality, and manages to still be friendly and approachable with self-deprecating humor in his Gucci slides. 

His most recent endeavor was a collaborative series with controversial YouTube star and beauty entrepreneur Jeffree Star. Star was 2006’s most-followed person in MySpace and launched his music career via the site. He signed with Akon’s music label, Konvict Muzik, in 2010, only to abruptly vanish from the music industry in 2013. 

Star founded Jeffree Star Cosmetics in 2014, using his life savings. The brand later became a multi-million dollar company. Star turned to YouTube and began using his own channel as a platform to advertise his makeup brand. He earned $18 million in 2018 from his YouTube channel alone, earning him the title of fifth highest-paid YouTuber that same year. 

Star earned his ‘controversial’ title after making derogatory and racist remarks in the past. He had also been known to use racial slurs. Each time Star’s alleged racism is called out, the controversy seems to disappear. 

Dawson’s series highlighting Star seems to be his biggest endeavor to date. He aims to showcase Jeffree’s side of events during 2019’s feud between the YouTube beauty community. 

The documentary will follow Star through his daily life as a successful makeup entrepreneur, document his travels and personal life. The series will also cover the very infamous feud between beauty YouTubers Tati Westbrook and James Charles, which resulted in a monumental 2.6 million subscriber loss in three days for Charles. 

Dawson also got a pretty sweet deal in working with Star. In addition to Star’s makeup brand, Star also co-owns an online merch store, Killer Merch, and Star offered him an opportunity to create his own merchandise. Dawson’s assortment of products sold out in under an hour, truly showing how powerful, influential and well-liked this creator is. His fans were ecstatic for Dawson to have new products of his own for sale. 

In addition to the merch, it has been revealed that Dawson will be collaborating with Star on his very own beauty collection. The line will be conspiracy theory themed, as Dawson had a short run as a “conspiracy theorist” and will be released on Nov. 1.

The line’s main focus is a ‘Conspiracy’ eyeshadow palette, containing 18 shades. In addition to the eyeshadow, there will be a lip gloss, six liquid lipsticks and a nine-shade ‘Controversy’ eye palette. 

Makeup brand Morphe, their retail partner, projected sales of somewhere between $14 million and $20 million. With the success of Dawson’s new merch, it’s not hard to believe that the much-hyped makeup collaboration will make a killing in sales. 

Dawson is a shining example of how to be a successful, long-term YouTuber. He demonstrates drive, grit and honesty—all qualities that are few and far among today’s internet stars.

While sometimes a bit too nice or slightly misguided, Dawson is a kind, humble soul with good intentions. He seeks to entertain his fan base and to help and inspire others. 

We would be lucky to see Dawson continue to evolve and create more content in years to come. His foray into the docuseries genre is incomparable to any other content on YouTube right now. Dawson is making YouTube his own; he is truly optimizing the use of the site as an entertainment platform, and reaping its benefits.