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Apr. 7 2010 - 3:30 pm | 1,786 views | 1 recommendation | 18 comments

Shane Dawson and NYT team up to destroy my faith in humanity

Dear readers, I have to preemptively apologize.  I have just spent the first part of my afternoon watching the videos of Shane Dawson, Youtube phenomenon and darling of the New York Times.  As a result, I feel slightly sick to my stomach, and I’m having trouble forming thoughts and structuring coherant sentences.  So if my writing sounds a little bit like I’m hungover from downing a bottle of Tanqueray by myself last night, I apologize.  Save yourselves, dear readers, and know that spending an afternoon with the Tanqueray would be a much more effective use of your time. 

Professional douchebag Shane Dawson really has it figured out.  He’s part of the endless litany of jackasses out there who figured out how to upload videos to Youtube (I, too, join the ranks of these jackasses!), and he knows the secret to getting an ass-ton of followers.  Be racist, be misogynist, be homophobic, be disgusting, and appeal to angsty young kids.  Justin Bieber got famous on Youtube by only doing the last one– and for anyone who was disappointed in me for defending Bieber a while back, my tragic discovery of Dawson only reaffirms my feelings.  If you believe, as I do, that Bieber is talented, then you could argue that Youtube’s ability to make people like him famous is valuable.  It brings a level of democracy and accessibility to the entertainment world.

Then, you see someone like Dawson, and your Bieber-inspired euphoria deflates, and you are left to contemplate with despair the collective absence of humanity’s emotional intelligence.  What’s even worse, though, than Dawson’s shitty videos, and the fact that over a million people subscribe to them, is when an institution like the New York Times decides to unquestioningly praise this asshole as some sort of nouveau entrepreneurial comic genius.  The Times lovefest describes the outrage Dawson has stirred, the demands for his suspension from Youtube, then in a painfully play-outrageous, “yeah I said it!” style quips: “Clearly Shane Dawson is doing something right.”

No.  No he’s not, New York Times, and neither are you.  To assume that Dawson is interesting or talented JUST because he’s outrageous demonstrates a profoundly shallow understanding of humor, specifically of outrageous humor.  Being controversial for saying something of substance (i.e. Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, George Carlin) is completely and qualitatively different that being controversial just for the sake of being controversial.  One is artistic expression, the other is self-important masturbation.  Dawson’s outrageousness is unfocused and exists for no purpose other than to put the word “Boobs” or “Blowjob” in the title of his video.  And the Times congratulates him, completely uncritically, asking “could millions of Shane Dawson fans be wrong?”

A better question might be: What does it mean that a white suburban Christian kid can get famous by performing in virtual blackface, using anti-gay slurs, and violently dehumanizing women, and all the New York Times wants to write about is how great he is?  The Times should be ashamed of itself.  Stupid humor is one thing (Ace Ventura: Pet Detective is maybe my favorite movie of all time), gross humor is one thing (Monty Python, SNL, Ren and Stimpy are all masters), but humor that relies on and perpetuates hateful, bigoted stereotypes is not only not funny, it’s damaging.  Even Dave Chappelle, whose intelligent and critical racial satire could certainly be described as outrageous, was hyper aware of his responsibility for how that satire was consumed.  To push the envelope with no idea of why you’re pushing it, or where you’re pushing it to, is not only pointless, its irresponsible.

The way the Times article celebrates Dawson’s abstinence is also infuriating.  Oh, he’s a virgin who has never had a drink or smoked!  HOW CHARMING!  Then it’s especially funny how his videos simulate aggressive sex with women, with one character screaming “Get back here and fuck me,” and that he challenges his viewers to show them their “rape face.”

“I’m just an innocent guy with a dirty mouth,”

he told the Times. Dawson may be Christian, but he’s also hypocritical, hateful, and profoundly unfunny (not unlike a number of other Christians who make headlines).  And the Times should issue a letter of apology to all women, gays, and non-whites in the world for endorsing this shit.


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    Hey, Molly,

    I actually wrote that article. And, in my defense, I think if you read between the lines — or at least read it somewhat dispassionately — you’d find that the article is a lot more critical than you give it credit for (in the sense that it strives objective, and to analyze it as a phenomenon).

    For example, I don’t think when I wrote that he was “doing something right,” that that was a qualitative judgment of any kind. It’s just a fact that he’s “doing something right” in a hit-driven, quantitative sense — same as, I don’t know, whomever decided to degrade our culture just that much more by conceiving “Jersey Shore.”

    Like it or not, he gets millions of views, and makes a living via YouTube doing what he does. That’s the perspective I tried to present. I actually think what you read as “play-outrageous” could just as easily be read as skeptical and ironic.

    I think you and I would actually agree on most things, generally speaking. And I’m aware that my writing about him implicitly promotes him, whether I think I’m being “objectively” critical or not. But I will say I’m actually really glad the article has sparked these sorts of critical reactions.

    From a professional standpoint, I can’t really discuss what was behind the article any more than that in a public forum, but I do invite you to email me directly so we can discuss it further.

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    Of course Shane Dawson is a vulgar thinking person. Molly you have to admit that young teenagers such as myself think about the vulgar things that he expresses and I’m sure you did to when you were my age.(perhaps not as intense as Shane)I respect your opinion and your views probably align with that of most adults,but as for teenagers such as myself this is our role model. He is who we look up to as a person. Shane is making it cool not drink or have sex before marriage. His weight loss and rise to stardom is also an inspiration. You are being a little harsh on Shane and the New York Times writer. I mean if anything should be criticized its The Jersey Shore. They disgust me because of the example they put out for people. At least Shane tries to put out a message in his videos and promotes a positive way of living. As a result of Shane I myself,a fifteen year old girl, have committed myself to never drinking or having sex before marriage. Thank You for reading this and I hope you observe more closely to the messages in Shane’s videos.

    By the way the quote you took from one of Shane’s videos “Get back here and fuck me!” was not from Shane but from a cameo in his videos whose YouTube name is makemebad35. Get your research straight.

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      Shane’s problems stem from his lack of understanding of the things he’s talking about not from his use of words like “boob” or “fuck.” As Molly pointed out his words and actions are looked to for guidance, whereas shows like The Jersey Shore only presents villains not meant to be looked up to. Saying the word “boobfuck” is only funny in certain contexts. Like using the word “boobfuck” in a supposedly intellectual discussion that you chimed into to defend someone else’s blog. Using the word “boobfuck” to describe an act you want to do to a woman against her will is not funny because it is unoriginal and just the placement of two “taboo” words near each other. Beyond the fact that it’s not funny it’s problematic. It’s problematic for a supposed idol to say because it teaches others that in order to emulate him you need to think these thoughts.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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      …this is our role model. He is who we look up to as a person.

      Your generation is doomed.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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    Thanks very much to both of you for your comments and for reading. Austin, I do see that your article was analyzing the phenomenon of Dawson, and I understand that when you said he’s “doing something right” that that meant in an objective sense. It’s just that after watching Dawson’s videos, I felt that they were extremely problematic– it was difficult to find a single one that didn’t objectify women or rely on anti-gay or racial stereotypes for a joke. And that, specifically, is what I have a problem with. I understand that it was your job to be objective as your wrote the article, but to write about the phenomenon of Dawson without acknowledging the problematic themes in his comedy is to give those themes a pass, where I didn’t think think they deserved a pass.

    I have no problem with vulgarity. I love vulgarity! I did when I was your age, and I do now that I’m 24. I don’t want you to misunderstand my criticism as “kids these days!” or “our culture is going down the tubes!” I have a specific critique of Dawson– he relies on anti-gay, racist, misogynist stereotypes to get a laugh. And while I think it’s fine that he’s a role model for not drinking and not having sex, I actually believe those two activities are much better and much safer than perpetuating hateful stereotypes about gays, women, and non-white people. And as far as the line in question, I know it wasn’t him who said it– that’s why I specified that a “character” said it. But it was still one of his videos on his channel.

    Thanks very much to both of you for your thoughts, I really appreciate it!

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      you know he is just trying to be funny. he dosent try to offend people, and i love his videos. if you hat him then you probably shouldnt talk about him. he really is a nice person, and cares about people. but he also likes to joke about things too. but i think you should lay off because it’s not nice to talk about people that way, and it’s kind of offending to me and all his other fans. and he is not shallow or anything, he’s just…. has a certain way of make a joke. but he also reaches out to people by asking questions to people and helping them through stuff. and there are people worse than him on youtube, so you shouldnt be dissing him, you should be talking about people who are REALLY jerks on youtube. but i think you should just leave him alone. because the stuff your saying about him hurts me deeply, you make me feel like a bad person or whatever just because im a fan. and i know everyone has diffrent opinions, but what you say about him bothers me and other people

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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    Hello. I’d simply like to note how cool it is to read Molly’s post saying ~”An NYT piece about this character really bothered me,” and Austin joining the conversation to say “Hey, I wrote that piece, please allow me to explicate …”

    Austin’s been with us since before the beginning. Molly’s one of our newest Contributors. I’m not sure this precise scenario’s played out before since going live a year ago.

    Thanks to you both – this is an awesome birthday present -

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    omggggg i know i commented on this already but I just wanted to say that Sahne was called up to audition for a led roll in Scream 4!! I am so happy for him! Just wanted to say that his success on the internet is leading somewhere and I am sooo proud of him. :)

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    I would like to say I am a huge Shane Dawson fan. I read this post and was outraged at first. Careful reading a few more times revealed that what she was saying is true. I really think his videos are popular because his can “losely” convert profane humor to real life situations and modern teen problems. It is pretty cool that he can promote Christian value through voulgar and profane videos. Attracting these massive crowds he must have found something out befor us all. But it isn’t only Shane who uses racism or sexism. Kassem G. and Ray William Johnson are two examples. I think its just the generation that enjoys racism. That is the cause of Youtube stars success. And as soon as the teen generation becomes obsessed with other values, Youtube stars will mainly use racism and anti-gay messages to draw a mob of viewers.

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    While I respect your opinion and what you think about Shane Dawson, I must point out that he’s not entirely bad. Yes, his comedic style may be a little weird and offensive, but rarely is it misogynistic or racist, and I must disagree with you calling him a “jackass.” He’s a 22 year old guy who enjoys making humorous skits and videos for teenagers, such as myself. He has openly admitted that he’s had some hard times in life, but that he is also extremely grateful for his fans, and the (positive) feedback he receives from them.
    However, if you’re looking for something outrageous, look up the comedian Daniel Tosh. If you think Shane Dawson is bad, I don’t think he will even compare to Tosh’s more offensive and extremely harsh sense of comedy. I bet you’ll even wonder how they let him have his own TV show.
    But again, all my respect goes out to you and this article.

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    Honestly, if there’s anyone who disgusts me here, it’s you! Seems to me like you’re the “professional douchebag”. Although, you didn’t appeal to me as very professional at all. Shane is the role model to a vast variety of teenagers, including myself. He uses comedy to attract his audience to inspire them and give them a positive outlook on life. Something a closed-minded person like you obviously doesn’t understand. If it were up to me, you wouldn’t be allowed to touch a keyboard ever again.

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    “Dawson may be Christian” – what the hell is that suppost to mean? like being a christian all of the sudden gives you a higher moral than anyone else…

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    Hello, I would just like to personally say, FUCK YOU! Shane Dawson is way better then you’ll ever be and your a bitch for bagging on him, you just can’t deal with the fact that he’s getting more and more subscribers so why don’t you just shut the fuck up with your stupid opinions and stop saying lies about this unbelievably hilarious and talented young man, bitch, fuck you + Shane Dawson is abstinent and has never drunk or smoking THAT’S NOr a bad TING YOU MUST BE DRUNK OR ON DRUGS TO THINK THAT THAT’S NOT GOOD HE’S AMAZING SO JUST DEAL WITH IT FUCKER

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    He jokes about things that nobody else would ever dare to, and that is what makes Shane Dawson who he is! As a female who is 110% for gay rights, I take no offense to ANY of his jokes. He doesn’t really mean what he says because he is joking! Some people really need to lighten up and stop making up excuses to bitch and moan about things that aren’t worth bitching and moaning about! I cannot believe that people twice my age are complaining about someone on YOUTUBE! Really? I would think that you would have a life! Who cares if you think Shane Dawson is too vulgar? If you don’t like it then don’t watch it! Writing some silly blog complaining about someone geared toward teenagers isn’t making you any better than he is.

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    Hey Molly, you mention “humor that relies on and perpetuates hateful, bigoted stereotypes is not only not funny, it’s damaging.” I couldn’t agree more, you may not have noticed this but the last few minutes of Ace Ventura where Einhorn is revealed to be a “man” is actually extremely offensive to transgender people. I know that’s a silly absurd movie, and for the most part I would agree, but I just thought I should point out that one particular scene which, is pretty dehumanizing.

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    About Me

    I am a stand-up comic and writer living in Brooklyn. I also teach theater and comedy to elementary-school kids in the Bronx. My writing and comedy videos have been featured on the women's comedy website Funny Not Slutty, Punchline Magazine, and EDGE.

    I co-write and co-star in a web series with my brother called John and Molly Get Along, which can be found on Youtube.

    I really enjoy a lot of goofy pop culture stuff, but I'm also a feminist, which makes things difficult. That's what I like to write about.

    See my profile »
    Followers: 62
    Contributor Since: February 2010