by Hena Hussain ‘20
One of YouTube’s original and most influential creators, Shane Dawson, recently came out with an eight-part documentary series on Jake Paul, a fellow social media influencer. The series became highly publicized over the internet, with each video receiving at least 13 million views. The popularity of the series was largely due to the high level of controversy that Paul has engaged in during his time on the internet, as well as because of Dawson’s own popularity.
Most people know Paul as the controversial social media star who engages in reckless, cringy, and sometimes violent behavior on his YouTube channel, particularly in the form of pranks. He has also been a part of various scandals concerning other social media influencers. Dawson’s documentary was an attempt to find out the truth about Paul and what made him the way he is, and to shine a new light on his behavior.
The series had both its high points and low points; for example, much of the beginning of the series consisted of Dawson contacting fellow YouTubers and watching Paul’s videos to learn more about his character and how he presents himself in his videos. While it took some time for Dawson to actually get to interview Paul himself, it provided a comprehensive look at who Jake Paul is through the lens of social media, which is helpful for those who may not have been as informed.
Dawson also pursued the angle that Paul is potentially a sociopath, due to his violent behavior against others in videos. This eventually proved to be largely unnecessary, since that angle was mostly abandoned by the end of the series and was never proved to be true.
Another aspect that took away from the series was the fact that Dawson never delved into some of the things that came up in interviews. For example, the various legal entanglements between Paul and other social media influencers were discussed, but never fully questioned, which would have been an interesting and insightful look into how the business of creating online content is far more complex than it appears.
The series wasn’t completely flawed, though. Although the idea that Paul was a sociopath was not properly approached, Dawson did make an interesting point in the beginning of the series on the role mental health and personality disorders play in the lives of YouTubers, and how their massive audiences feed such negative behavior.
Another favorable aspect of the series was the manner in which Dawson attempted to understand each person’s point of view as he conducted interviews. Paul’s defining feature is his constant involvement in scandal and controversy, and Dawson provided a fair chance to each person involved in certain scandals to share their truths. This helped provide a raw and entertaining look at what was going on, even if it didn’t go too much in detail.