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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

TW: Mentions of sexual assault

I’m sure even if you didn’t watch David Dobrik’s vlogs, almost everyone in Gen Z has at least heard of him (or seen way too many people reposting his Tesla car giveaway posts on their Instagram stories). I vividly remember almost every day in high school I would watch David’s daily vlogs when I got home. Now with the recent allegations surfacing, I’ve thought a lot more about the culture that these vlogs were a part of.

black and white photo of a camera
Photo by Marx Ilagan from Pexels

For weeks, YouTubers and Podcast hosts of Frenemies, Trisha Paytas and Ethan Klein have been talking about the problem with David Dobrik and his friend group that films the videos with him, known as the Vlog Squad. Trisha has first hand accounts of certain situations that happened a few years ago from when she was dating Vlog Squad member Jason Nash. Because of past problematic behavior Trisha is often not taken seriously, but now having podcast co-host Ethan Klein on her side, she was able to reach more people with her story. The allegations quickly rose to public attention after Insider reporter Kat Tenbarge wrote an article featuring the sexual assault allegations against Vlog Squad member Durte Dom while David and other members were present. The night that the sexual assault took place was filmed for David’s vlog, and even though a lot of the night’s events were not shown, there were major red flags that slipped by millions of viewers… but why?

In the now deleted vlog, a group of girls came over to their apartment after responding to an Instagram story. The girls didn’t want to have sex with Dom, so off-camera, they were given alcohol despite being underage in hopes they would get drunk enough to do it. David even added to the video through voiceover: “But by some stroke of luck and master negotiating, Dom made progress” while filming Dom bringing 2 girls to the bedroom. This comment explicitly disregards all rules of consent but went without major backlash for nearly 3 years. Even if individual viewers noticed the problem with this video (as well as his other vlogs) there is such a passive culture when it comes to sexual assault that these kinds of comments were not only able to fly under the radar, but were considered punchlines in David’s vlogs. Comments like these are so normalized that even those who would claim to stand against this kind of behavior were laughing at the vlogs behind their screen. Many of his viewers are also on the younger side, meaning they’re very impressionable and look up to David. When this kind of behavior is filmed and uploaded for millions of people to see, kids view this as acceptable and very well may even mirror these attitudes and actions in their own life. 

youtube on phone
Photo by Sara Kurfeß from Unsplash
In David Dobrik’s recent apology video, he says, “I couldn’t wrap my head around a childhood friend of mine doing this to people and actually hurting people, and I’m sorry for that.” This is just another example of what’s wrong with the culture around sexual assault. David was quick to discredit women coming forward with allegations against Dom, yet refused to hold his friend accountable until he lost all his sponsorships and his name was slandered across social media. The problem of David not acknowledging his friend’s dangerous behavior is applicable to everyone, not just those with big social media followings. When your friend makes an insensitive or inappropriate joke about sexual assault, call them out. Being passive about this topic longer perpetrates the idea that sexual assault is acceptable, and allows more and more men to get away with this kind of behavior against women. Although David Dobrik and the Vlog Squad are a well known example of the disturbing sexual assault culture present in our world right now, we all have a chance to change it. Call out your friends and family, hold people accountable, and speak up against sexual assault as much as you can.

Elizabeth Tait

U Mass Amherst '24

Elizabeth is a senior editor and content writer at UMass Amherst, double majoring in psychology and sociology. In her free time, she loves reading, watching sunrises at the beach, making Spotify playlists, baking, and traveling.
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