Shane Dawson

It’s Time for Shane Dawson to Recognize His Privilege

The popular YouTuber is estimated to be worth millions, so why does he keep acting like he's so poor?

Recently, longtime YouTuber Shane Dawson shifted to documentary type videos that focus on other internet celebrities — most notably Jeffree Star — and he has been recognized and praised for this new style.

Dawson has had a huge following on YouTube for almost 10 years now. Over the course of his time on YouTube, he has gained millions of subscribers on his YouTube channel alone, and his other social media accounts also have millions of followers. The amount of views he has reveals his popularity. Dawson’s 2020 net worth is estimated to be around $12 million.

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It’s clear Dawson has been and continues to be a fairly wealthy, accomplished YouTuber, but he gives off a very different vibe in many of his videos. While he isn’t boasting his success over others, it still seems like he is denying it, in a way. It’s obvious he’s accomplished a lot, and many viewers just want Dawson to admit it.

His YouTube Success

According to Business Insider, Dawson is one of the top 25 most popular YouTube stars in the world. He does use his presence on the platform for good causes, such as promoting fundraisers next to some of his videos.

However, it’s important to recognize that he is successful enough to do so. Compared to some YouTubers, Dawson may not be as financially successful, but his achievements are undeniable. His YouTube channel is home to over one thousand uploaded videos, and he currently has over 23.3 million subscribers. Given his general popularity, amount of sponsorships and number of videos, it’s safe to assume he makes a very decent profit from his uploads.

His lifestyle may be vastly different from others, but based on his accomplishments, it’s likely not as underprivileged as he portrays. He’s reportedly admitted that he’s not great with investing his money, but he can’t deny that he has it and has benefited from it.

His Friendship and Frequent Collaborations With Jeffree Star

This is where the “I’m so poor” remarks seem to be most frequent and apparent. In 2019, Dawson made frequent appearances on Jeffree Star’s channel and vice versa. All of the videos they’ve made together have gained hundreds of millions of views combined. That’s pretty successful for just one series.

The Secret World of Jeffree Star” and “The Beautiful World of Jeffree Star” are probably the most popular of the series, with both having over 20 million views and continuing to grow. In these videos, Dawson is constantly in awe of Star’s lifestyle and possessions. Well, of course he would be. That doesn’t mean that he’s poor.

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The thing about the way he comments is that he does it in a manipulative tone. He never explicitly compares his lifestyle and Star’s on a fair playing field.

Star has been accumulating wealth for years from a past music career, property investments, his YouTube channel and, of course, his cosmetics company.

Dawson is a full-time YouTuber who, again, has reportedly admitted he’s not great with money. It’s just not sensible to liken the two lifestyles.

It’s funny once or twice to compare and make some jokes about the insane difference in their wealth and lifestyles, but it becomes troublesome when that’s the entire, over-exaggerated act you put on for multiple videos.

Aside from the videos, Star created a makeup collection in collaboration with Dawson, Shane x Jeffree. Jeffree Star Cosmetics is already insanely popular and a cult favorite. Items and collections sell out in minutes or even seconds. Throw Dawson in and you’re adding a whole other group of fans into the craziness of buyers. To the surprise of no one, the merchandise sold out very quickly and earned millions of dollars in revenue.

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Since it had to do with his likeness, Dawson received at least some of the profit. Star continues to stock some of the items, so Dawson is presumably still benefiting off of the collection. It’s obvious this little business venture on the side has added to his success.

Why Resort to “I’m Poor”?

It’s no secret that many YouTubers put on an act for views and that their comments are not always genuine. The achievements of the people on the platform varies so much; obviously, they will all have different levels of wealth. It’s just slightly appropriative when people like Dawson rely on acting poor for content — all of the time.

Somehow, he became successful, probably because of his sketch videos (sans the clearly racist ones), conspiracy theories and docuseries. So why does he rely on acting poor when there’s so many other things he could highlight?

It is slightly manipulative and damaging to his viewers, especially impressionable ones. If someone who probably makes millions on his channel thinks he’s poor, what is he making his viewers think about themselves and their situations? Someone with such a large platform should take this sensitive subject seriously.

And when it comes to the success of the Shane x Jeffree collection, he got incredibly lucky. For someone who’s never really dabbled in the world of makeup before, he’s fortunate to have been able to collaborate with Star and to create his own collection. Many people work for years to have a similar opportunity with their own makeup line.

This isn’t to say that he doesn’t deserve the success he’s clearly worked many, many years for. But what impression does it give off when he attempts to act “relatable,” when it’s clear he’s not living that same life?

Please, Dawson, find another relatable trait, and recognize that you have the privilege of being “poor” in luxury while others can’t do the same.

Lauren Buchko, Michigan State University

Writer Profile

Lauren Buchko

Michigan State University
Journalism and Media Relations

Hello! I’m Lauren and I have an interest in design and visual media. I love to experience new things and try to make life an adventure.

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