[WARNING: This Article Contains Extremely Graphic Language]
On Wednesday, YouTuber Shane Dawson came under fire after a controversial clip from his old podcast, "Shane and Friends," appeared online.
An edited version of the clip from 2013, in which Dawson jokes about pedophilia and googling "naked babies," was allegedly first uploaded by YouTube channel Pop Blast, with the title: "Shane Dawson is a pedophile. Here’s the proof." Subsequently, the title changed to: "I think Shane Dawson is a pedophile. Here’s my proof," reports Polygon.
YouTube then deleted the channel, claiming "multiple or severe violations of YouTube’s policy against spam, deceptive practices, and misleading content."
Dawson took to YouTube on Wednesday in an attempt to clear his name. During his video, he played a longer clip from the podcast, and apologized for what he said.
I wanted to play that clip in full, I mean that moment especially in full, just for context because that seems to be missing nowadays. I cannot believe that I am having to make this video. I cannot believe that this is happening. I'm gonna start by saying I am not a f****** pedophile. ...
It's disgusting that people are saying I'm a f****** pedophile because of some s***** a** f****** jokes from six years ago on a podcast. Now let me explain a little bit more. Here’s what I’m gonna do. I’m going to apologize first.
I am sorry that I used to make really s***** f****** jokes. I am sorry that I was so f******, like, insecure, and like, playing this character of this guy who's, like, crazy, and will say anything and tries to make everybody laugh by shocking them. That was my thing; that was what I did on YouTube.
... I loved the feeling of making somebody shocked and laugh because they couldn't believe what was coming out of my mouth. I wasn't confident enough to make smarter jokes. I was making the easy jokes. I was playing crazy stereotypical characters; I was doing s*** that was racially insensitive; I was doing s*** that was homophobic; I was doing s*** that could be considered fat shaming; I was doing some f***** up, like, comedy stuff that I'm not proud of.
I’ve changed so much as a person, and as a creative, and a director, and a writer and stuff. Like, the stuff that I was saying back in those times, I would never say now.
Dawson went on to talk about his interaction with the Instagram star, saying the little girl had a "Dance Moms type of vibe," and that he found that unsettling:
She was posting, like, really creepy selfies — and her dad was helping her, and it was f****** creepy, and it was, like, weird, right? So, of course I take that story and I talk about it on the podcast. Now, of course, what they didn’t also show in that video clip is me talking about how f****** creepy it was. But then I started making jokes about it.
Dawson then claimed that he never actually Googled "naked babies"; that it was a joke:
... I am so sorry if that triggered you or offended you or hurt your feelings. It triggers me, listening to that clip. ... I don't even know what else to say. I'm not a pedophile. I made a lot of bad decisions as far as joke telling, storytelling, tried to make people laugh with shocking them. I mean, there's so many things I've done in the past that I'm, like, embarrassed of, ashamed of.
After adding that he himself was a victim of molestation, Dawson said:
I am sorry that these [remarks] are making people uncomfortable, but also it’s very out of context. When you listen to the full thing, it’s still, like, s***** and creepy and bad jokes, but it’s not me being a pedophile. ... I’m proud that I’ve grown up. I’m proud that I don’t make crazy jokes anymore. I’m proud that I’ve changed my channel to be more about good things, and cool things, and helping people. ...
Here’s the full video:
As for the podcast, approximately seven minutes in, Dawson and his co-host were discussing things that upset them, and he brought up a six-year-old Instagram star he met:
We ran into a child...this child was probably six-years-old, and I was taking a picture of something, and the kid turns to me and goes, "Oh, are you Instagramming?"
... and the six-year-old girl goes, "Oh, how many followers do you have?" I mean, first of all, it was almost like one of those contests where it's like, "How big is your ****?" And this kid slapped her huge **** on the table, and was like, a six-year-old who goes, "Oh, I have 125,000." Her **** was almost as big as mine.
... and I said, "Okay, LittleBig****, why do you have so many followers?" And she goes, "Oh, I'm a cheerleader." And I'm like, "Oh, really?" And she shows me her Instagrams, which are like — first of all, I don't know if I'm allowed to say this, but she's like, sexy. ...
Listen, I know we've talked about pedophilia before ... let me explain. Here's my justification for pedophilia. Ok, first of all, just let me say, having sex with children, or touching children, or anything of that nature is terrible and you should not do it, but here's my thing. People have foot fetishes. People have fetishes about, you know, everything. And there's websites on the internet where they can look at that weird creepy sh** and j*** off to it. Okay, fine, everybody do your thing. So why is it when somebody looks at — Googles like, "naked baby" on Google, and j**** off to it, they can get arrested?
... but here's the worst part of it. I actually went to Google, and I'm like...let me just pretend, let me pretend I'm a pedophile for a sec ... so I typed in "naked baby." First of all, I don't understand why anybody would be turned on by that, but [pause] they were sexy. I'm kidding!
Throughout the episode, Dawson’s co-host laughingly objected to Dawson’s language and when he asked why people are arrested for Googling "naked baby," she said, "Because somebody took a picture of a naked baby."
Here’s the podcast (pertinent portion begins at the 6:55 mark):
As of publication, Shane Dawson’s apology video has 3.6 million views, 461,000 "thumbs up," and 4,000 "thumbs down."