He’s back — praise my incessant YouTube notifications — Shane Lee Yaw, professionally known as Shane Dawson, is back!
But is he better than ever?
From my first impression of his latest hour long video entitled “The Beautiful World of Jeffree Star,” I am deeply saddened to admit … no. No, Dawson is not better than ever, but he sure is good at recycling old material.
The monumental YouTuber, who has over 22 million subscribers, had largely retreated since the publication of his “Conspiracy Theories” series from 8 months ago. The “Conspiracy Theories” series was met with wild acclaim and an even more overwhelming view count totaling 77 million views, as of the publication of this article.
Dawson’s Chuck E. Cheese pizza conspiracy captured the imagination of the masses and led to quite the negative publicity moment for the family entertainment center company. The sheer amount of engagement this conspiracy conjured from the YouTube community made sacrificing my retinas and free time to the three hour long series worth it.
Over the past half of the year Dawson has published a single stand-alone video, “The Return of Eugenia Cooney.” Chronicling the controversial YouTuber’s battle with an eating disorder, this video felt genuine as it dealt with such a sensitive topic.
The editing of this entry, which was a collaboration between Dawson and his cameraman extraordinaire, Andrew Siwicki, in particular added to its overall entertainment value. Dawson’s thoughtful authenticity was felt through not only every question asked of Eugenia Cooney, but in every single edit, leading the audience to feel invested in the recovery and success of Cooney.
Dawson’s latest video, though, sees an awfully familiar cast of characters: Dawson, Siwicki and — surprise, not really a surprise — Jeffree Star. Star, the beauty guru with over 16 million subscribers, has a beauty line undoubtedly worth an enormous sum of money. “The Beautiful World of Jeffree Star” is meant to not only follow the icon’s personal trials and tribulation, but take a closer look at the business and behind the scenes of his beauty collection. The first installment of what is to be a multi-video series, emphasized and teased the process of creating a Shane Dawson palette.
Although it pains me to admit as a longtime Dawson fan, this video failed to keep my attention despite the fact that I had been eager to be absorbed by the YouTube abyss for the hour that it lasted. Most of the video lacks the same production value found in Dawson’s former hits; I love Andrew Siwicki and his infectious laugh, but the camerawork was often shaky and didn’t consistently convey the emotion it once had for me … I was just dizzy.
Aside from the wobbliness, I found the content of the video trite and repetitive — most of what was being shown on camera could have been recycled footage from “The Secret World of Jeffree Star” series and I wouldn’t have known the difference. Further, I feel like Dawson didn’t express the same authenticity which has historically separated him from the rest of the pack.
It almost seems that Dawson is playing a role — the role of himself; with his nonstop soda drinking, constant wide eyed stares into the camera and nervous laughter, Dawson is overexaggerating the traits and tics that once seemed organic. It is increasingly apparent that Dawson is monetizing his brand, which has come to ultimately mean he’s monetizing himself as a character.
While these faults may be redeemable, I find the hocking of greed and materialism to young impressionable audiences to be nearing abhorrent, and it seems that this is mainly what Star stands for these days.
With his Gucci, private jet and other facets of an incomprehensibly lavish lifestyle, Star seems to have lost his personality and replaced it with money. Again, I write this as a former avid Star viewer and fan. It hurts to admit that Star has devolved to this status, but the message of greed and excess the influencer sends is even more harmful to his surprisingly young audience.
With all this stated, I will most likely continue to watch this series because I have a YouTube addiction and I’ll need something as a distraction from midterms. However, I am worried about the future content and integrity of Dawson’s channel.
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