A rumor that controversial YouTube star Shane Dawson died started trending on Monday on Twitter after a parody account mimicking TMZ, a popular celebrity news website, tweeted, “American Youtuber Shane Dawson dead at 32 #RipShane.”
While most users online appeared to be in on the “joke,” numerous Twitter members signing onto the social media site were unsure if the online personality had really died. Dawson has kept a low profile after YouTube announced that he’d no longer be able to make money from ads on his three channels and Target said their stores would no longer carry his books thanks to his previous offensive content — but he is not dead.
Adding fuel to Dawson’s death hoax on July 27, a Twitter member shared a fake tweet from fellow controversial YouTuber Jeffree Star that appeared to show the make-up mogul using the hashtag “RIP Shane.” However, the link in the thread took online users to a Justice for Breonna Taylor petition that has garnered over 10 million signatures.
Even those who aren’t fans of Dawson weren’t amused by the death hoax. One Twitter member shared, “I’m an outspoken criticizer of Shane Dawson but this #ripshane tag is honestly horrible. Dislike Shane as much as you want but you should NEVER joke about or fake someone’s death. Having lost people close to me it makes my blood boil at some of the jokes being made.”
Dawson, whose real name is Shane Lee Yaw, was “canceled” for wearing blackface and using a racial slur in old YouTube videos. He was also recently called out for a video he posted in 2010 in which he appears to be sexually touching himself while looking at a poster of a pre-teen Willow Smith. Dawson is 12 years older than Smith, who’s now 19 years old and co-hosts the Facebook Watch show “Red Table Talk” with her mother, Jada Pinkett Smith.
Pinkett Smith tweeted her response to Dawson’s viral video. She wrote, “To Shane Dawson… I’m done with the excuses.”
Dawson once took a jab at Trayvon Martin, a Black 17-year-old who was shot by a neighborhood watch captain in Florida in 2012, and the moment came back up while “RIP Shane” was trending. One person tweeted, “ok so when shane made fun of trayvon martin’s death it was pushed to the side and barely anyone talked about it but when this trends everyone wants to rush his defense f*** off #ripshane.”
Dawson Posted a 20-Minute Video in June Apologizing for His Past Racist Videos
On June 26, Dawson put on a video on YouTube entitled, “Taking Accountability.” He said, “I’m going to start with all the racism that I’ve put on the internet as an adult. I made the decision to play stereotypes of Black people, or Asian people, or Mexicans, or pretty much every race.”
Dawson said in his public apology, which has since been viewed nearly 5 million times, “Blackface was something that I did a lot on my channel. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be Black and see this white f****** guy do blackface, and the whole internet at that time being like, ‘LOL!’ That’s insane and I am so sorry.”
Dawson Issued His First Public Apology Over Wearing Blackface in 2014
Dawson, who’s worth an estimated $12 million, according to Business Insider, has been posting controversial videos for over a decade. Back in 2014, Dawson issued his first formal apology for wearing blackface and making racist statements.
In his 2020 apology video, Dawson reiterated his regrets over his former videos. “At this point, realizing how many people I’ve hurt or how many people I’ve inspired to say awful things or do anything awful to, to finally just own up to this and be accountable is worth losing everything to me.”