“David Dobrik: Vlogger or Puppet Master of Sexual Assault? Part 1”

%22David+Dobrik%3A+Vlogger+or+Puppet+Master+of+Sexual+Assault%3F+Part+1%22

Emily McLaughlin, Co-President, Staff Writer

*Disclaimer: This article discusses mature themes and may be triggering. Reader discretion is advised. 

In recent years, pop culture has been dominated by social media influencers and personalities. We are living amongst new-age celebrities who have become famous via non-traditional routes. These routes include platforms such as YouTube and, recently, TikTok. These platforms have allowed a multitude of people to grow an audience and create a name for themselves within the world of social media. Specific influencers have proven to be very versatile and have made their way into the mainstream media. 

David Dobrik is an excellent example of an influencer who caught the attention of mainstream pop culture. Dobrik began his career on Vine, a short-lived video-sharing platform that was widely popular from 2014-2016. He joined YouTube in 2015 and since then has amassed over 18 million subscribers. Dobrik slowly moved from YouTube to Twitch, a streaming platform, at the beginning of 2020. However, his YouTube content is still very popular and was unique at the time. He produced short vlogs with various other creators. Dobrik referred to the group of people he made content with as the “Vlog Squad.” This content group proved to be a very successful venture for Dobrik, as his videos garnered millions of views without fail. The Vlog Squad became a staple in the YouTube community, and as a result, Dobrik had an extremely loyal fanbase. He was on his way to becoming a household name; some may even argue that he has already achieved this notoriety. He has made videos with various A-list celebrities like Justin Bieber, Kylie Jenner, Kevin Hart, John Stamos, and many more. He is also known for gifting his friends, family, and fans with luxury cars like Lamborghinis and Teslas. It doesn’t get any better than that, right? 

You can imagine why many viewed David Dobrik as “YouTube’s golden boy,” an influencer loved by all. Dobrik seemingly could do no wrong—Until now. 

The cracks in Dobrik’s façade have become apparent, and his empire has come crashing down with recent allegations coming to light. These allegations involve Dobrik instigating sexual assault in order to produce content. In this article, we will analyze the first instance of this misconduct. 

In June of 2017, Dobrik released a video titled “HE THOUGHT HE WAS KISSING HER!! (SUPER CRINGEY).” This video has since been removed from his channel. In this vlog, the premise was that Seth Francois, a former member of the Vlog Squad, would be making out with another member, Corinna Kopf. Kopf would be wearing an old man costume that completely covered her face and body. Dobrik thought this would be a comical bit for the vlog and pitched the idea to Francois. Francois agreed and gave his consent to make out with Kopf for this video. However, Francois did not end up kissing Kopf. Instead, Dobrik instructed Kopf to change out of the suit and give it to Jason Nash, a 47-year-old comedian and Vlog Squad member. Nash put on the costume that covered every inch of his body and face to hide that he was not Kopf and prevent Francois from noticing. Nash, with the guidance of Dobrik, then began making out with the unsuspecting Francois. The entire point of the vlog was to trick Francois into making out with Nash for comedic effect. 

Let me remind you — Francois gave his consent to making out with Kopf. He did not consent to these actions with Nash.

In February of this year, Francois went on the H3 podcast, hosted by Hila and Ethan Klein, to discuss this experience. He recounts that he had just gotten off a flight and returned to Los Angeles when he received a call from Dobrik. Dobrik asked Francois to come to his apartment to participate in a vlog. Francois agreed and went to Dobrik’s apartment, explaining that this was a normal occurrence. Dobrik often called them with intentions of filming things on a whim. What Franois was unaware of at the time was that this vlog he was about to participate in relied on deceiving, embarrassing, and assaulting him. 

He describes how shocked he was upon realizing that Nash was behind the mask and not Kopf: “After Jason pulled off his mask, I realized that I was just touched by someone I did not consent to.” 

Francois recalls being conflicted at this moment. He was filled with anger and wanted to react negatively towards Dobrik and Nash. However, instead, he remained calm. This was to stay in good standings with Dobrik and the incredibly popular Vlog Squad. Francois was new to the group and did not want to disrupt Dobrik’s content or cause friction. Francois explained how his association with the successful group made him feel like he couldn’t say no to Dobrik. He wanted to continue involvement with the YouTube collective; he believed it was the only way to preserve his career. Francois feared he would be cut from the group if he expressed his concern. 

“It was an unwritten thing where you see a pattern of people saying, ‘Yo, I’m uncomfortable with this,'” he said. “All of a sudden, they disappear, and they’re not in videos anymore.” 

Dobrik put Francois in this situation again a few months later. Dobrik orchestrated a fake commercial opportunity for Francois. The goal was to trick Francois into being kissed by Nash nonconsensually, once again. Dobrik sent Francois fake emails, pretending to the beef jerky company known as Jack Link’s. Though the company was not involved in recruiting Francois, they were partnering with Dobrik and monetizing off of product placement. Jack Link’s has since denied knowing the “skit” was not consensual. 

The emails expressed interest in Francois acting in a Jack Link’s commercial, even going as far as promising payment for the gig. Dobrik rented a set and hired a crew to make everything appear legit. This process was detailed extensively in a now-deleted vlog. Francois talked about how he was ecstatic, thinking he landed an actual commercial. He went to the filming destination and was instructed to make out with an actress in a sasquatch costume for the advertisement. The sasquatch, Jack Link’s mascot, proved to be convenient for Dobrik. He was able to ensure that Nash would be unrecognizable and hidden by the costume. 

Eventually, it was revealed that Francois was kissing Nash and not the actress. Not only that but there was no commercial and no payment; instead, Dobrik was “pranking” Francois again for his vlog. 

However, this was never a “prank” — This is blatantly sexual assault condensed into a vlog format. 

Francois has explicitly spoken out about this situation and has been very open about how it impacted him mentally. 

“I honestly didn’t realize how much that situation affected me until the beginning of last year when COVID happened,” he said. “I remember sitting in my room in Atlanta, and I was thinking to myself, That video was wrong. I just felt like that shouldn’t have happened to me.”

“Allegations are when there’s a lack of proof, but in my case, it’s blatant. The point of the video is to sexually assault me,” he said. “That’s the whole premise. I told [Dobrik] how I felt about it three years later after [he] monetized it.”

Francois has since moved from Los Angeles, California, to Atlanta, Georgia. He cites his involvement with the Vlog squad as a reason for the move. 

“A large chunk of it being related to being in the Vlog squad and being in David’s content. I decided to move to Atlanta because when I was in LA, after dealing with that video with Jason. Millions of people are misconstruing about my own sexuality and how I feel about participating in something that he didn’t have my consent for.”

It is also very likely that Dobrik and Nash did not select him randomly; he was explicitly targeted based on his race. Francois is an African-American man who grew up in Compton, an area considered to be the most dangerous city in California. In an episode of VIEWS, Dobrik, and Nash’s joint podcast, they spoke about the motivation behind the “kissing prank” and why they felt Francois was the best victim. They casually brought up Francois’s background as a black man from a violent city and how they felt that contributed to the quality of the “prank.” 

“His friends are probably going to chew him out for that for the next three, five, years of his life,” said Dobrik on his podcast. “Seth’s from Compton; it’s literally the perfect setup — a guy from Compton made to make out with another old man,” he continued. In the clip, Nash and Dobrik were laughing uncontrollably when discussing this topic. 

Initially, I planned on covering two instances of sexual assault that occurred in Dobrik’s vlogs. However, when writing this article, I found that I could not simply graze over any details. Francois’s story particularly touched me, and I wanted to ensure I did it justice. Due to the severity and length of each account, I decided to break this up into two parts. Stay tuned for “David Dobrik: Vlogger or Puppet Master of Sexual Assault? Part 2.”

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