David Dobrik: A Fall From Grace
David Dobrik, 24-year-old influencer and public personality, got his start in 2014 on the popular social networking app Vine, where he posted video clips of himself pulling pranks on strangers and making comedy content. Although he was very popular on Vine, the app closed down permanently in October 2016, forcing many Vine creators to migrate to a different social media platform: Youtube. Youtube is where Dobrik truly found his fame, amassing nearly 19 million subscribers by uploading videos with his friends, the “vlog squad”, where they would film their outings and poke fun at each other. Recently, older allegations of racism, sexism, and sexual assault have resurfaced, causing a massive uproar against Dobrik and members of the vlog squad. From being one of the most loved influencers to one of the most hated, this is the fall of David Dobrik.
On March 17, Business Insider released an article telling the story of a woman, “Hannah”, who came forward to say that she was sexually assaulted by one of the vlog squad members, Dom Zeglaitis, also known as Durte Dom. During a vlog that was filmed and uploaded to Dobrik’s channel, Hannah stated that she and her friends were invited to hang out with the vlog squad on the request that they have sexual relations with Dom. When it became clear that the women did not intend to do so, alcohol was provided in order to “loosen them up”. Alluded to in the vlog as “a stroke of luck” and “master negotiation”, the alcohol was provided to the group of girls, some of which were underage. After becoming extremely intoxicated, Hannah participated in nonconsentual sex with Dom and one of her other friends. Hannah explains that she does not remember any of the events of that night due to her inebriation but was informed by her friends of what had occurred. All the while, Dobrik and the vlog squad were laughing and filming themselves as witnesses of sexual assault.
Former members of the vlog squad also spoke up against Dobrik sharing their stories of racism and ableism stemming from the jokes in Dobrik’s vlogs. Seth Francois, the only black member of the squad, is very outspoken about his experience and how it felt to be the brunt of the racist jokes that made their way into the vlogs. For one skit, Francois was asked to open the refrigerator and when he did, numerous watermelons rolled onto the floor. For another, Francois walked in on other members of the vlog squad smearing nutella on their faces, clearly participating in blackface. Another former member, Nik Keswani, also known as BigNik, spoke about the injustices he faced while appearing in Dobrik’s vlogs. BigNik has dwarfism and was often subjected to jokes about his height. When he asked Dobrik to not poke fun at his height, BigNik was slowly cut from the vlogs.
Dobrik is also under fire for his previous comments about the women in the vlog squad, more specifically previous members Gabbie Hanna and Trisha Paytas. Hanna, who left the vlog squad in 2017, was made fun of for her weight and voluptuous figure. In a video for her Youtube channel, Hanna and other members of the vlog squad gather together to exchange Secret Santa gifts in which Dobrik gives Hanna diet pills, claiming that she “definitely needed it”. Paytas was subjected to many jokes about filming a sexual encounter with her then boyfriend, Jason Nash, a prolific member of the vlog squad, and another woman. Paytas actively speaks out against Dobrik and the vlog squad on her podcast “Frienemies” with her co-host Ethan Klein, who hosts another popular podcast “The H3 Podcast” with his wife, Hila. In their podcast, Paytas and Klein frequently criticise Dobrik for his orchestration of these events and have been one of the main proponents of Dobrik’s downfall.
After the release of the Insider article, Dobrik released a two-and-a-half-minute video entitled “Let’s talk”, supposedly being his response to all of this controversy. People were not pleased with this response as the accusations against him are very serious and many felt that they could not be covered in such a short amount of time. Not only that, but the video was posted to his podcast channel, the least subscribed to channel that he runs. He also turned the comments off, and disabled the like/dislike feature. People pointed out that it seemed like he didn't want people to see or talk about the controversy at all. In the video, Dobrik stresses the importance of consent, stating that everyone who is in his vlogs gives their consent to be posted on Youtube. He also claims that when a person revokes consent, the video is deleted from this channel. Youtube drama channels such as Tea Spill and Spill Sesh, have reported on the issue and have rebuked the statements Dobrik made in his video, explaining that bits are often included in his vlogs after bribing or pressuring people into using their content. Dobrik also distances himself from his older friends and suggests that he no longer supports their actions nor wrongdoings.
The major backlash that Dobrik has received after his response to his allegations have resulted in the loss of major partnerships and sponsorships that were a big source of income for Dobrik. So far Dobrik has been dropped from the sponsorships of Hello Fresh, DoorDash, and Honey, three very large companies that gave Dobrik money for promoting their products and services. Dobrik also stepped back from his popular photo sharing app, Dispo, after Dispo began to lose sponsors such as Spark Capital. Dobrik then released a follow-up to his previous “Let’s talk” video, this time titling it “03/22/21”, a 7-minute long video in which he takes responsibility for his previous apologies, announces that he is taking a break from social media, and apologies to those that he has wronged. Although this video has a mostly positive response, people are quick to point out that he never apologized directly to the woman who was sexually assaulted at his gathering and only made this apology after he had seemingly lost everything.
At one point, Dobrik was one of the most loved, respected, and successful influencers of this generation. With the emergence of past indiscretions in conjunction with the way he responded to them, it seems that Dobrik will be out of the good graces of many for a very long time. Although many of these allegations were not committed by him directly, it is important to note that Dobrik is the main factor that connects them all, as well as giving them an online platform from which to spread racism, sexism, ableism, and harassment. It is also important to note that many other negative instances, both including the vlog squad and Dobrik himself, have occurred that were not divulged in this article. Dom Zeglaitis is currently under investigation for the sexual harassment of two nonconsenting women. If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault or harassment call 800-656-HOPE or visit www.rainn.org for free counseling and resources. The Windjammer staff stands with and supports the victims of all injustices faced within our community and strives to convey accurate and relevant news coverage always.