Culture Feature

On Shane Dawson and What It Means to Be "Authentic" Online

The fallout of "Dramageddon 2.0" has called up questions about what it means to be "real" as an Internet celebrity.

2020 has been a rough year for Shane Dawson.

After more than a decade of making over-the-top sketches and self-serious "documentaries" on Youtube—growing a fanbase of millions who view him as their wacky friend—Dawson became embroiled in on-going drama between beauty vloggers Tati Westbrook, James Charles, and Jeffree Star.

In what's become known as "Dramageddon 2.0," Dawson is accused of manipulating that drama from behind the scenes in order to boost his own videos. And that drama has brought up the regrettable history of Dawson's racist and otherwise offensive "comedy."

This included the moment that brought him to the attention of Jaden Smith and Jada Pinkett Smithwhen Dawson pretended to be pleasuring himself to an image of then-11-year-old Willow Smith, while sexualizing the lyrics of her song "Whip My Hair."

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Culture Feature

Shane Dawson and the Plight of the White Male YouTube Star: When Cancel Culture Fails Us

YouTubers Shane Dawson, Jeffree Star, James Charles, and David Dobrik have all had major success in spite of "cancelable" offenses. How do we ensure they're held accountable?

Following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police and the subsequent push from progressives to overhaul America's law enforcement, celebrities and public figures have been forced to reckon with their own history of racism at varying degrees of severity.

In the past week, Mike Henry, Kristen Bell, and Jenny Slate have announced that they're stepping down from voicing their Black animated characters on The Cleveland Show, Central Park, and Big Mouth respectively. Hulu removed an episode of Golden Girls in which Blanche and Rose wore dark brown mud masks. Country bands Lady Antebellum and the Dixie Chicks changed their names to not include words rooted in racism, while some realtors are nixing the phrase "master bedroom."

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After a year of battling for the right to continue to appropriate the stories and identities of people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals, Scarlett Johansson has once again made headlines for a controversial opinion.

This time, the Avengers actress is facing backlash for saying that she continues to "love" and "believe" Woody Allen, despite accusations of sexual abuse made against him by his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow. "I love Woody," she told The Hollywood Reporter. "I believe him, and I would work with him anytime. I see Woody whenever I can, and I have had a lot of conversations with him about it. I have been very direct with him, and he's very direct with me. He maintains his innocence, and I believe him."

So, in the spirit of this radical acceptance, we've compiled a list of some dream collaborators for the Ghost in The Shell actress!

1. Harvey Weinstein

© WireImage

What better person to bring Johansson's dream of playing a tree to the big screen than the notorious Hollywood producer accused of sexual misconduct by 87 women! Like Allen, Weinstein also denied all allegations against him, meaning he meets Johansson's criteria for innocence.

2. Roman Polanksi

Johansson seems to look for two things in her friends: a talent for filmmaking and an affinity for raping children. Who does that remind you of?! That's right: Roman Polanski, of course. Unfortunately, Johansson would have to travel to France to work with Polanski, who currently resides there as a fugitive from America after pleading guilty to his crimes. Oh, but then he wrote about them in graphic detail in his autobiography Roman by Polanski (Yes, that's really the title). Woody Allen supposedly pitched a memoir to publishers earlier this year, obviously modeling his life and crimes off the life and crimes of the Rosemary's Baby director.

3. Shane Dawson

In the age of the internet, the lines between types of media are becoming blurrier and blurrier. Why confine a talented and morally upstanding actress like Johansson to merely collaborating with big names in the film industry? Shane Dawson, a Youtuber who caught heat for posting a video in black face long after society knew better (oh, and possibly having sex with his cat), is the perfect mixture of sexually perverse and racially insensitive to work well with Scar Jo!

4. Bryan Singer

While Singer is known for his sexual preference for teenage boys instead of teenage girls (as is Allen's preference), Johansson would probably still be up for collaborating with the Usual Suspects director. After all, Singer also maintains his innocence, meaning that despite the many, many credible sources who have accused Singer of assault, Johansson would probably consider him 100% innocent!

5. James Toback

'The Private Life Of A Modern Woman' photocall, 74th Venice Film Festival, Italy - 03 Sep 2017 Maria Laura Antonelli/REX/Shutte

According to the Los Angeles Times, Toback, who has directed over a dozen films including Bugsy and The Pickup Artist, has been accused of sexual misconduct by over 200 women, who allege the director frequently lured women back to hotel rooms for "auditions and interviews," interactions that ended, according to many of the women interviewed, with Toback rubbing up against them or playing with himself in front of them and ultimately reaching climax. But once again, Toback has maintained that he never even met any of his accusers, making him fair game for a Scar Jo collab!

6. Muammar Gaddafi

The notorious Libyan dictator is deceased, so Johansson won't be able to work with him directly, but what's stopping her from starring in an autobiographical film of his life? She can play a Middle Eastern character, no problem! Gaddafi was known for kidnapping girls as young as 14 to imprison and repeatedly rape for years on end. But hey, his government continually denied these accusations, so Johansson would probably get along with him fine!

7. Satan

Sure, the devil is accused of a great many misdeeds by a great many people. Jesus himself said, "He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him." But hey, that's just one guy's opinion! I wonder what ol' firey Fred would have to say for himself if he was just given a chance to speak back against all this ridiculous PC culture. Chances are that he would maintain he's had nothing to do with all the famine, war, natural disasters, genocides, rape, plagues, Hollywood's existence, or rampant cultural appropriation by white women. Therefore, Scarlett Johansson would probably "love" and "believe" Lucifer, if given the chance.
CULTURE

Happy 30th Birthday Etika: Mental Illness as an Influencer

When someone exists as an influencer, with hordes of faceless people following them for "content," their humanity gets lost in the mix.

*Update: On June 25th, 2019, Etika's body was found in the East River by the NYPD. If you're experiencing suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

At midnight on June 20th, popular YouTuber and video game streamer, Etika, posted a video titled "I'm sorry" on his alternate channel.

The video shows the YouTuber, whose real name is Desmond Amofah, filming himself as he walks around New York, monologuing about how badly he messed up his life, doling out apologies for anything and everything. He apologizes for pushing people away, letting people down, and failing to seek help for his own mental illness. He speaks calmly and in the past tense. He mentions suicide more than once, and he laments not being able to see what happens next in Attack on Titan. Although the video was posted at midnight, it was filmed during daylight hours and likely scheduled in advance. Etika has not been seen or heard from since.

Many fans are worried that Etika is at high-risk of suicide. Others think that it might be a publicity stunt, one in a long pattern of Etika-related suicidal content. Regardless, his experiences shed light on the troubling dichotomy between Internet fame and suffering mental illness for social media influencers who experience both.

Best known for his Nintendo-related reaction videos, Etika's original YouTube channel had over 662,000 subscribers before he purposely had it banned during what seemed like a mental breakdown. In 2018, Etika uploaded a video rant against Twitter over a temporary ban for using the n-word with a soft "a." His reason for being mad makes sense, but his speech and behavior in the video seem erratic. Shortly after, Etika bombed his own channel with porn, resulting in a permanent YouTube ban. He then posted what seemed like a suicide note on his subreddit, saying, "And now, it's my turn to die. I love you all." He later apologized on Twitch livestream, chalking it up to a "meltdown."

The Know Your Meme entry on Etika documents a pattern of similarly worrying incidents that have escalated over time, suggesting possible mental health issues. These include suicidal tweets, an Instagram-streamed arrest, and his assault of a cop which led to him being briefly put in a mental health facility.

Etika Suicide Tweet

After the arrest, Etika also appeared in a very troubling interview with fellow YouTuber, Keemstar, who capitalizes on Internet-related drama on his "DramaAlert" channel.

Etika ( INTERVIEW ) after being ARRESTED by Police! #DramaAlert ( SHOCKING ) www.youtube.com

During the interview, Etika says, "I walked into the mental place, I became God, and I walked out." The two end up arguing, resulting in Etika blocking Keemstar on Twitter afterwards. Keemstar responded by tweeting about how Etika "RAGE QUIT" the interview "cus I called him out for being WEAK!"


keemstar etika

But mental illness doesn't make someone weak; it makes them ill. Even if all of Etika's earlier suicide-related content was some kind of "stunt," it would still point to a larger cry for help that seems all too obvious. Unfortunately, when someone exists as an influencer, with hordes of faceless people following them for "content," their humanity gets lost in the mix. The toxicity of Internet fame can be a hard pill to swallow even for perfectly mentally stable influencers. For those with mental illnesses, it can be shattering.

Many fans view their favorite social media influencers almost as friends. They may spend hours every day listening to a specific person talk and learning details about their life, so they come to feel like they really know that person. But for an influencer, the relationship with fans can never truly exist on equal footing; it is, by nature, hierarchical. The influencer creates content and the fans consume it. Even fans who genuinely want to be friends (and how does one differentiate those from the ones seeking fame, power, or influence?) don't actually want to know the real person. They want to know the influencer's persona.

The only thing lonelier than being truly alone is being surrounded by people who think they know you when they really don't. This is an experience all too common for people with mental illness, who often feel the need to hide their issues for fear of social stigmatization. For influencers, the problem is compounded. Even if they're open about their mental illness, they risk being made fun of by a large audience or, possibly worse, having their worst moments encouraged as a source of "drama." This certainly seemed to be the case for Etika.

In a moment of reflection during "I'm Sorry," Etika says: "Let my story be one that advises caution on too much of the social media s**t, man. It can f**k you up."

CULTURE

Why Are ProJared and JonTron Trending on Twitter? Because YouTube Culture Is Toxic

We are highlighting and dissecting the drama of a womanizing pedophile, a racist, and a sl*t-shaming cyberbully—as if these people matter.

Once again, YouTubers have proved that they're the worst subset of people.

It was just revealed that YouTuber ProJared will be separating from his wife, Heidi O' Ferrall. In a statement on Twitter, Jared claimed that Ferrall's "mental wellbeing" and "discretion" will remain "the highest priority" through the divorce. But, according to Ferrall, that's not actually the case. "I recently learned that my husband ProJared has been f**king Holly Conrad behind my back for months," Ferrall tweeted out, along with a screenshot showing that her husband had blocked her. "I have no idea what announcement he just made."

For those of you still reading about these sad internet gargoyles for some reason, Ferrall's juicy twitter thread continued with a number of heavy accusations against the popular gamer, including "explicit conversations" over the years with this Holly Conrad person. She also accused ProJared of gaslighting her when she confronted him about his infidelity. He allegedly insisted that "the only thing wrong with our marriage was [her.]" She also sl*t-shamed Holly Conrad and additionally alleged that her husband had solicited nudes from his fans "for years." She said the latter was fine, though, calling it "ostensibly a body-positive space for consenting adults." Well...

The backlash against ProJared has been severe—well, not really, but it probably feels severe in his little bubble of narcissism—as he was removed as a moderator from his subreddit and replaced by fellow YouTubers Scott the Woz and JonTron, the latter of whom believes in racial profiling and ethnic cleansing. ProJared has also lost over 30,000 subscribers from his popular YouTube channel.

I could talk more about this, but frankly, I'm mostly riddled with questions. Why do people care about this toxic braggadocio? I'm truly asking. Is there something I'm missing here? In this small subsection of YouTube culture, we're highlighting and dissecting the drama of a womanizing pedophile, a racist, and a sl*t-shaming cyberbully.

In separate but related news, a woman was drugged at Jake Paul's house party a few days ago, and a few months ago Shane Dawson had to explain that he didn't "actually" have sex with his cat. The moral of this story is that YouTube culture is toxic. There are no winners here. Please cancel YouTubers. Everyone should go read a book. I'm tired.


Mackenzie Cummings-Grady is a creative writer who resides in the Brooklyn area. Mackenzie's work has previously appeared in The Boston Globe, Billboard, and Metropolis Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @mjcummingsgrady.


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CULTURE

This Week in Internet Hell: No Cats or Teenagers Were Hurt During the Making of This List

What do Shane Dawson, Wolf Blitzer, and egg rolls have in common? They each ruined our week.

123rf.com

March Madness is the Internet's favorite time of year if you don't count April Fool's, the Super Bowl, and any time after midnight.

This week, we've been shocked to find that YouTubers might be desperate for attention, criminals also love greasy takeout, and Wolf Blitzer wants to be a teen idol. Here are five bright, horrible moments from the Internet this week.

1. This Is Probably NOT Human Slavery on eBay...but also Is It?!

No, no—this creative teen is probably poking fun at Internet job postings, or eBay, or rampant consumerism that commodifies every aspect of human experience. Right?! Her entire listing for "Hailey J. Eilert - Varsity Appllication [sic]" reads: "I am a hardworking individual who is ready to start working! I love the unique style of the company and feel I would be a good fit as I am a fast learner and team player. As a sophomore, I have a very flexible schedule and a car so I can easily adapt to a busy work schedule. For privacy concerns, I attached another document to my original email providing more detailed information about my references and employers as well as my school schedule. Thank You!"

Ebay - haileeiler-0

2. YouTuber Shane Dawson Probably Fucked His Cat

3. Florida Man Arrested, Accused of Shoving Woman to Get Egg Rolls

This is a story about a man who got arrested after trying to shove his way into a woman's house to access egg rolls. I like it because the dude just really wanted some egg rolls. That's pretty wholesome. Obviously, this was in Florida.

Yeah, he looks like he just had egg rolls.Klew TV

4. Reality Is the Best Prank Ever

Is this real or a dream or a gift?

5. Remember Craigslist: Missed Connections?

Guys, this gentle soul even included a map. Send help!

Craigslist - New York - Missed Connections


Meg Hanson is a Brooklyn-based writer, teacher, and jaywalker. Find Meg at her website and on Twitter @megsoyung.


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