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shane dawson:
the canceled conspiracy king

By Yasmine Kaplan

I used to be a fiend for Shane Dawson conspiracy theory videos. I would count down the hours, waiting for his videos to go live. Despite Shane’s questionable character, ultimately leading to his cancellation, we must never forget the conspiracy theory boom he unleashed from 2016 to 2019. At the time, my entire YouTube page was filled with creators detailing wild conspiracy theories. Yet, none of their videos held a candle to Shane Dawson’s content.


Shane had the intrinsic ability to enrapture his audience into whatever story he was telling, making his YouTube videos feel like a high-scale production, rather than a guy being followed around by a videographer. His theories were so convincing, – they even had the power to encourage people to boycott companies or sell out items. Despite being widely popular, some were so controversial that YouTube took them down. Sometimes, when I’m really desperate for a good laugh, or just going through a depressive spiral, I instinctively re-watch these iconic videos. I’ve compiled a list of his best conspiracy theories for those who want to discover this special feeling.

I’m going to start off with a conspiracy that needs no introduction: the Chuck E. Cheese Pizza saga. The premise for this video is thatShane ordered a Chuck E. Cheese pizza only to find that many of the slices didn’t seem to line up with other parts of the pie. In fact, the slices actually appeared to be coming from several different pizza pies. This led to concerns over whether employees were combining half eaten pizzas or heating them together and then serving them to customers. Even though Chuck E. Cheese claimed that the misshapen appearance is a result of employees hand making these pizzas, the mere thought of this conspiracy being true permanently scarred my younger self. Now when I reflect back on the joyous times I had at Chuck E. Cheese, I don’t think about celebrating a random friend’s birthday or a peculiar looking rat mascot – I instead can only think about the fact that I was eating someone’s leftover pizza.


Another hot topic Shane infamously covered was the Dasani Watergate. He took a deep dive into Dasani’s ingredient list, finding potassium chloride (aka salt) which is most commonly used in fertilizer and in lethal heart-stopping injections. Shane conducted a taste test where the bottle fizzed as he twisted it open, something commonly associated with carbonated drinks. While Dasani claimed the ingredient is used for taste, after conducting a taste test, Shane found that Dasani had a distinct metallic taste and thick/slimy texture, leaving him with a dry mouth. This raises the question of why a company would purposely want their water to taste metallic and if taste is their main objective. His investigative reporting style of actually conducting a taste test and delving into other conspiracy theorist’s opinions really stuck with me. Even though several years have passed, you’ll never catch me drinking Dasani unless absolutely necessary.

Shane is notorious for taking popular, seemingly “faultless” organizations, and exposing the controversy within them. He raised the question of whether children are being brainwashed by secret messages within cartoon programming that promote and dismiss the severity of suicide. With children’s minds mostly developing in the first five years of their lives, he emphasized how easily their minds can be manipulated by cartoonists who put their own adult humor into their work. He used Squidward’s dark humor and depressive storyline in Sponge Bob to emphasize this point, highlighting how the cartoon inappropriately alludes to mental health and suicide.

With the increasingly saturated social media landscape, Shane knew he needed to find a way to distinguish himself from other YouTubers. The hours of research he put into these conspiracies are undeniably evident. He mastered the art of putting viewers first, going so far as to say he didn’t care if his videos were monetized as they would most likely not be “brand friendly.”


This “authenticity” ultimately led to his downfall.Specifically, videos of him making pedophilia jokes and engaging in other problematic behaviors resurfaced – these actions clearly went beyond simply not being considered “brand friendly.” While his social media hiatus was short lived (as he made his return the following year), the conspiracy theories he has since put out just don’t hit the same. To me, Shane Dawson is the equivalent of a high school athlete who never went pro due to some underlying injury. He’s stuck reliving his glory days, attempting to capture the same enigmatic quality his OG videos produced. His current videos reference conspiracy theories that have aged out of relevancy, accumulating less than a third of the views he once was so easily able to attain.


I still carry his OG conspiracy theories with me. Regardless of the validity of their content, I genuinely learned the importance of questioning life. Since it seems that even bottled water can’t be trusted, I believe it’s crucial to approach life hypocritically and attempt to get to the root of the other lies we are unknowingly being fed. In response to conspiracy theory critics who believe that these videos only serve to depict false narratives and spread misinformation, I raise the point of how much we should value “truth” over entertainment. These videos are, above all, cathartic forms of entertainment. Regardless of the accuracy of information, conspiracy theorists, like Shane, have the unwavering ability to gain a cult following through their storytelling. 


While I will take some stories with a grain of salt, besides, of course, the ones I mentioned above, I will always be an avid conspiracy theorist. 

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