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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Exeter chapter.

Within our generation, the name Shane Dawson may ring a bell, having been a key part of YouTube since practically its inception. Recently, his name has been circling amongst main stream news owing to the surge in popularity his series ‘The Mind of Jake Paul’ has received. In this series. Dawson wished to delve into the inner workings of the actions of one of the platform’s most controversial creators, analysing whether or not he’s a Sociopath. Whilst this series has been incredibly successful for both Dawson and YouTube, showing that the platform is able to host far lengthier, in depth and topical videos than the usual fare of vlogs and challenges, it has also been met with backlash, mainly in response to his presentation of mental health. Currently, this series has been watched by 20 million people, meaning Dawson’s audience has exceeded even some TV shows. Thus, the serious topics covered within these videos go far deeper than just the typical YouTube drama, and it is therefore necessary that the narratives within these videos are discussed, and their impact they may have on today’s society is considered.


Monetary Gain

The BBC recently picked up this story with the interest that it ‘could be making millions’. They reported on the large number of brands desperate to involve themselves in such viral videos, through which Dawson could be making anything ‘from $85,000 to $170,000 for one video’ according to Jessica Brennan, an influencer marketing manager. This series is so revolutionary in terms of internet content because it proves individual content creators can making something brands would like to have their name tied to, potentially paving the way for more independent documentary style content. However, with the increasing networks of influencers and brands, it seems creators need to be far more cautious with their output and what this may mean for the companies that support them. Additionally, with news outlets such as the BBC seeing them as increasingly valid forms of mainstream entertainment, creators need to be far more aware of their growing audience and must be held more accountable for what content they are pushing.


Mental Health

Dawson has received most criticism for his presentation of mental health. During part 2 of the series, he sat down with a therapist to discuss the symptoms of Anti-Social Personality Disorder (ASPD), otherwise known as Sociopathy. Throughout there was an excessive use of extra footage used to create the idea of horror, insinuating that those with ASPD were all evil with the sole intention of hurting people. This, combined with the use of clips from those explaining their personal experiences of having ASPD suggest that these violent traits were both correct and frequently found amongst individuals with ASPD. Furthermore, the therapist used words such as ‘icky’ and ‘gross’ to describe the illness, which is incredibly reckless when revealing the intricacies of mental health to a large, young audience, especially if some may recognise some traits within themselves. These comments seem to add stigma back to mental health, so much so that Dawson had to issue an apology before the third part. However, there seems to be a lack of responsibility on his part. In his apology on Snapchat he kept claiming ‘you can’t offend them’ when it is clear many people with ASPD have come out saying how damaging this video has been to them. Additionally, he claims he made it scary so that people would watch it, which is further demonstrative of the sensationalised imagery of mental health that has been pushed forward to a large audience without any regard for what effect this could have on his young audience.

Furthermore, this series seems to have been encouraging self-diagnosis of both yourself and those around you. This is incredibly damaging for those with mental illnesses, with it turning mental health into a joke, something he has seemed to exacerbate on his other platforms such as twitter. With the rapid rise of internet stars, such topics cannot be treated in this manner.


Emotional Abuse

Jake Paul, the focus of this series, has often found himself in controversy regarding his treatment of his ex-friend Alissa Violet. During this series Dawson sat down with both Paul and Violet in order to provide a balanced account. However, he has severe differing reactions to both sides. Violet raised awareness to Paul using his position to invite girls over to be ‘cast’ in his business, Team 10, when in fact he would have sex with them and never contact them again, all whilst dangling the thought of a relationship in front of Violet to retain her loyalty. In today’s climate of #MeToo, abusing positions of authority for sex should not be brushed over as it has been in Dawson’s series, as seen from his lack of reaction. Furthermore, Dawson used his usual editing style throughout Violet’s interview, showing very little emotional reaction. This contrasted greatly with his reaction to Paul’s story in which he appeared emotionally distraught, whilst using minimal editing and no music (a decision he states was used since the content of the interview was too personal). It is upsetting that a creator with an audience of millions has chosen to brush aside an account of abuse in order to fit with a redemption arc for Paul, regardless of who’s side of the story is correct.



Dawson does, however, tackle Paul’s advertising to kids which is excessive and incredibly manipulating, ensuring vast amounts of his merchandise is purchased, going to far as to write a whole Christmas song on buying merchandise. This is a topic that should not be ignored, seeing as internet stars are gaining audiences far exceeding some children’s shows, and thus should be held responsible for what they are selling. Paul, during the interview however, seemed confused on how his advertising was morally wrong, claiming any complaints made about this were just the result of ‘haters’. Sadly, Dawson does not go further in to this, instead projecting on to Paul and assuming he does not understand what he is doing, when if anyone were to watch just one of Paul’s videos, the regular reference to merchandise and tour dates is enough reason to support the idea Paul is knowingly manipulating his audience.

With the increasingly rapid rise of internet creators, clearly documented by how this series has exploded on the internet, the online community can no longer be ignored by mainstream outlets. These creators need to be held accountable for their actions as those involved in TV and Film would be.

Naomi Clarke

Exeter '21

I'm Naomi, I'm 21 and a second year history student at the University of Exeter. My hobbies include singing, guitar and pole fitness, even if I'm still a little rough around the edges at the last one.