On Monday, July 27, The hashtag #RIPShane was trending on Twitter with thousands tweeting under it. Several Twitter users paid their respects to YouTuber Shane Dawson under the trend. But Shane Dawson is not dead. At least, at the time of writing this report, there was nothing to substantiate that claim. So, why were people wishing Dawson rest in peace?
A Twitter account posing as the entertainment gossip news portal TMZ tweeted a photo of Dawson with the caption, “American Youtuber Shane Dawson dead at 32 #RIPShane.” As per several other Twitter users, an account impersonating Dawson’s fiance, YouTuber Ryland Adams, had tweeted something similar.
While many seemed confused about what was happening, many more seemed in on the joke and started paying fake tributes to Dawson. One of them shared old photos of Dawson in blackface, captioning it: “Shane Dawson, my unproblematic king. So devastated to hear about your passing, may you rest in peace. #RIPShane.”
On June 26, Dawson, whose given name is Shane Lee Yaw, shared a video titled ‘Taking Accountability’ addressing his use of blackface in past sketch comedy videos and pedophilia jokes, among other things. He said in the video, “I’m going to start with all the racism I put on to the internet as an adult, not a child. I was at least 20 when I started YouTube, and I made the decision to play stereotypes of Black people, or Asian people, or Mexicans, or pretty much every race. I made that decision. I said, ‘Oh this is funny,’ and I put that on the internet.”
“Blackface was something that I did a lot,” said Dawson, “There’s no excuse for it.” He reflected on his realization that his work made racist stereotypes more acceptable to his younger fans. “I’m sorry that I added to the normalization of blackface or the normalization of saying the n-word. And my justification at the time for that was, ‘Oh, I was playing a character, and it was in comedy, and my Black friend was there, and that makes it okay.’ No, it’s not okay.”
Dawson also apologized for jokes about pedophilia and a fictional murder fantasy he spun about an unnamed woman on his podcast ‘Shane and Friends’, which ran for 140 episodes between 2013 and 2017.
Others shared photos of Rumpelstiltskin from ‘Shrek Forever After’, Drake Bell, Ed Sheeran, and other celebrities and shared their made-up tributes for Dawson. But there were also many who did not appreciate the trend at all. One Twitter user wrote, “The internet is foul. You should all be f***ing ashamed. I literally almost puked seeing this hashtag. #RIPShane.”
“Y’all have to know faking someone’s death isn’t okay… right? #RIPShane,” wrote another Twitter user. Another said, “The #RIPShane tag is f***ing foul. Imagine joking about someone being dead. The f*** is wrong with people. Sure the man did and said some s***, but you should never joke about someone being dead (especially someone who had mental health issues).”
A Twitter user wrote, “This is kind of messed up. Not going to lie. Yeah, he’s canceled but he’s also human. Like, come on. If you hate him. Just don’t follow him. Don’t ruin the guy’s life. #RIPShane.”
Another person wrote, “I’m an outspoken critic 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.”