Dawson’s need to clarify that an old joke about participating in sexual acts with his cat was just that—a joke—was hardly the first time the popular vlogger has found himself embroiled in scandal over questionable comments or behavior. In January of 2018, a since-terminated YouTube channel released a video entitled “I think Shane Dawson is a pedophile. Here’s my proof.” The video proof was an edited clip from another episode of Dawson’s old podcast in which he said he looked up “naked baby” online and called the search results “sexy.” Dawson quickly responded with a video of his own in which he played the clip in full, which included him quickly saying he was “kidding” after calling the images “sexy.” “I wanted to play that clip in full—that moment especially in full—just for context because that seems to be missing nowadays. I cannot believe I’m having this make this video,” he said, before declaring that he is “not a f–king pedophile.”
That same year, he also found himself embroiled in controversy courtesy of his sponsor BetterHelp, a wellness app that described itself as “the largest online counseling platform worldwide,” aimed at helping people deal with issues “such as stress, anxiety, relationships, parenting, depression, addictions, eating, sleeping, trauma, anger, family conflicts, LGBT matters, grief, religion [or] self esteem.” The service advertises its services costing anywhere from $40 to $70 per week, billed monthly, and many felt that Dawson and the other YouTubers who made videos praising the services were actually profiting off their followers’ mental health issues.