YouTube confirmed on Tuesday that it has stopped allowing Shane Dawson to make money from ads on his three channels, and Target announced it will no longer carry books written by the controversial vlogger. Also on Tuesday, YouTuber Tati Westbrook published a 40-minute-video in which she accuses Dawson and fellow YouTuber Jeffree Star of manipulating her and creating tension between her and YouTuber James Charles.
The moves came as part of the aftermath of a video Dawson posted on Friday titled “Taking Accountability.” Throughout its more than 20-minute run time, he apologizes for a career of offensive content, including but not limited to wearing blackface, using racial slurs, insulting people living with disabilities, joking about pedophilia and speaking hypothetically about murdering a woman.
“I should lose everything,” he said in the video. “I have put so much hate on the Internet.”
Dawson became one of the platform’s original — and most popular — stars after joining YouTube in 2008. He has long been a divisive figure, known for comedy he likened to that of radio shock jocks.
According to YouTube, the suspension of Dawson’s ability to include ads on his channels is indefinite and came after a review of his on- and off-platform actions.
A spokesperson for Target said, “We’re committed to creating an experience in which all guests feel welcomed and respected. We’re in the process of removing these books from our assortment.” When asked why the decision came now, even though much of Dawson’s content has been publicly available for years, the spokesperson refused to comment.
Westbrook’s video, meanwhile, focused on a specific series of dramatic incidents that occurred on YouTube last year involving herself, Dawson, Star and Charles.
Charles and Westbrook, two stars of the YouTube beauty and makeup community, had long been friends, with Charles referring to her as “like a mother.” Then, in May 2019, Westbrook released a 43-minute video in which she accused him of using his fame to “manipulate someone’s sexuality,” referring to straight men. Charles vehemently denied this charge in a video of his own, and for a while, the two continued releasing videos about each other, centered on their fraying friendship.
The generally accepted narrative involved Charles promoting a competitor of Westbrook. As Vox reported at the time, “Charles, 19, shilled for a beauty supplement brand, SugarBear, that also happens to be Westbrook’s top competitor. Westbrook, 37, took major offense …”
But in Tuesday’s tearful video, Westbrook apologized to Charles and said, “I did not make my video because of vitamins. I made it as a result of all of the poisonous lies that were fed to me by Shane Dawson and Jeffree Star.”
In a since-deleted Instagram live video posted Tuesday, Dawson denied Westbrook’s claims. Dawson has not yet responded to a request for comment. It does not appear that Star has responded, and The Washington Post has reached out for comment.
All of this comes amid something of a reckoning on YouTube, which began last week with Jenna Marbles apologizing for making racist jokes in the past and announcing that she was quitting her channel. Her video ostensibly inspired Dawson to create his own apology, though the past four days haven’t gone well for him. The backlash he — and Star — have received has been termed “Karmageddon” by some users.
It began immediately when a clip resurfaced in which he pretends to masturbate while looking at a poster of 11-year-old pop singer Willow Smith, prompting her mother, Jada Pinkett Smith, and brother Jaden Smith to publicly criticize Dawson.
“To Shane Dawson … I’m done with the excuses,” Jada tweeted, while Jaden wrote, “SHANE DAWSON I AM DISGUSTED BY YOU. YOU SEXUALIZING AN 11 YEAR OLD GIRL WHO HAPPENS TO BE MY SISTER!!!!!! IS THE FURTHEST THING FROM FUNNY AND NOT OKAY IN THE SLIGHTEST BIT.”