Shane Dawson’s Newest Series

Questioning Conspiracies

On January 30, the first episode of Shane Dawson’s conspiracy series was released on YouTube. The series was highly anticipated after Dawson announced he had been working on new conspiracy videos. The teaser trailer for the series was released on January 18, and immediately excited long-time fans of the creator. Before Dawson began creating various docuseries (The Mind of Jake Paul, The Secret World of Jeffree Star, ect.), he was widely known for his videos that covered different conspiracy theories. After he began to delve into more “documentary style” videos, many fans expressed that they missed his conspiracy videos.

In the first episode of the two-part series, “Conspiracy Theories with Shane Dawson,” Dawson covers several theories. The main theories discussed in the first episode involve Apple, the Woolsey Fire, and Hollister. The episode opens with Dawson and his friends discovering something eerie about calling on an Apple phone. Essentially, statements made by the person on the receiving end of the phone call before picking up the actual call can sometimes be heard by the person calling. This of course poses the question: is your phone always listening to you? The short answer being: yes, your phone is always listening, but does it actually collect everything you say? Dawson goes on to discuss “live pictures.” When a picture is taken, the phone will start recording before the button is even pressed. Again the poses yet another question about your phone: is it always watching? Shane Dawson presents several statements made by Apple regarding these questions. Apple has admitted on several occasions that iPhones are pretty much always “listening.” In fact, listening is a key element to several features provided by the iPhone, one example being “Hey, Siri.” Obviously, Apple has always denied the fact that any of the recordings are kept and stored, but people have always theorized this may not be entirely true.

The next main theories that Shane Dawson covers in the series are related to the numerous wildfires that took place in California. He speaks about the fact that the Woolsey Fire was mentioned more frequently in the media than the Camp Fire. Camp Fire completely destroyed the entire town of Paradise, California. It started eight hours before the Woolsey Fire, lasted 17 days, became California’s most destructive wildfire to date, burned 18,793 buildings, and killed 85 people, while the Woolsey Fire only burned 1,600 buildings, and killed three people. Dawson discusses a few theories surrounding this fire, the main one involving the fire being set intentionally. He explains that, after Camp Fire started, many people noticed strange elements of pictures from the fire, and began to question the start of the fire.  Just as these pictures were beginning to gather some attention, the Woolsey Fire started. It became a huge source of attention for the media, particularly because it affected so many celebrities. Many people began to theorize that the Camp Fire was accidentally started by the government (potentially when they were testing “new military weapons”), and then the Woolsey Fire was started by the government, purposefully nearby celebrity homes, to take away from the attention of the Camp Fire.

Dawson continues on to talk about different stores and how they “manipulate” customers, but he mainly focuses on Hollister. After discussing several features of the store, Dawson takes a trip to see for himself what Hollister is using to “manipulate” its customers. After arriving, he realizes that the company has almost completely rebranded itself, and is told that this was done after a change in CEO. Before the former CEO of Hollister and Abercrombie and Fitch, Mike Jeffries, stepped down, Hollister had certain employees whose sole job was to walk around the store, while wearing Hollister clothing, and talk to customers. Additionally, the interview process wasn’t really an actual interview. There have been a ton of former Hollister employees that have come out, and said that the interview process was pretty much just to see if the person seeking the job was “attractive enough” to work at the store. The company even faced a lawsuit in 2003, when a discrimination claim was made by over 250,000 current and former employees. While the company is said to have “changed,” it still remains a constant source of debate for its use of loud music, dim lighting, and extreme smell of cologne.

The second part of the series was released on February 11, and is officially titled “Investigating Conspiracies with Shane Dawson.” In this episode Dawson covers three main topics: Chuck E. Cheese and their potentially recycled pizza, voice manipulation tools, the story of Brittani Louise Taylor’s abusive relationship. Dawson begins by telling the story behind the Chuck E. Cheese theory. With a quick Google search, it is easy to see that the pizza slices at the popular children’s destination are a bit strange. The slices are all different lengths, don’t line up to a perfect circle, and the cuts often don’t match from side to side. The theory goes that Chuck E. Cheese actually recycles uneaten pieces of pizza and serves them to the next round of guests. While the company has come out after the release to say that this is completely false, there’s no denying that the pizza looks weird. Dawson even asks an employee about this theory, and describes her reaction which seems very suspicious. There’s no actual way to prove or disprove the theory, but Shane Dawson makes an extremely convincing case.

Dawson then goes on to interview Brittani Louise Taylor, a fellow YouTuber who recently wrote a book about her abusive relationship with Milos Mihajlovic. Taylor explains the enormous amount of lies she was told in the relationship, including ideas surrounding money, work, past relationships. She describes the first time that Mihajlovic abused her physically, and what she told herself to justify it. She even goes on to describe the potential mob connections of her ex-fiance, and how Mihajlovic claimed his family was involved in the Serbian mafia (though he now denies this). The whole time Dawson inserts clips of Taylor and Mihajlovic where he blurs his face to protect his privacy. In the end, Shane Dawson decides to expose Mihajlovic for his abuse by showing a collection of videos where his face is completely visible.

Shane Dawson also briefly covers voice manipulation by testing an app called Lyrebird. The app takes a sample of the user’s voice, by making them record 30 sentences onto it. After this, Lyrebird can essentially “clone” a voice, and create a digital version of it. Dawsons tests the app himself, and then asks several of his friends to do the same. While Dawson admits the creation doesn’t sound exactly like him and has a robotic undertone, he goes on to discuss the possibilities for this technology in the future. With more development, it could improve to the point where someone’s digital voice is indistinguishable from their actual voice. This could pose serious dangers to society, particularly in the government.

Shane Dawson’s new series is extremely fascinating. He encourages readers to question what they are told and to “look deeper than the surface.” For fans of his old conspiracy videos, this series will bring back everything they always loved about Dawson’s channel. From just a few minutes of the series, it’s clear a lot of work was put into its creation, both by Dawson and Andrew Siwicki, his cameraman and co-editor. Overall, It’s a must-see for anyone that’s a fan of YouTube, conspiracies, or the creator himself.