I have been watching Youtuber Shane Dawson’s documentary series about the infamous Jake Paul over the past couple of weeks and, let me tell you, it has been a real rollercoaster of emotions. Although I have only seen a couple of Jake Paul videos, I came into the documentary with a pretty solid opinion about the boy that I was sure could not be changed. In the short clips and videos I had seen, he seemed cocky and just downright annoying. Regardless of my preconceived perception of him, I wanted to have an open mind whilst watching the series.
Shane Dawson’s build-up of Jake Paul had me convinced that he was a sociopathic, arrogant boy that just wanted money and attention. Shane did a deep-dive of Jake Paul’s family, brother, and past relationships, showing the worst sides Jake. Over the course of eight videos, I went from hating Jake to liking him, to hating him again, and then finally to realizing that Jake’s brother is even worse. Overall, I believe Jake is not a monster, but that he is like many of the privileged boys I know. He is consequence-free and exhibits the traditional masculine behavior of superiority and recklessness. This is behavior that I would like to call, “toxic,” or “hyper-masculine”. Although Jake is not different from many white and privileged men and boys in our society, he has a vast influence over the audience watching him. And that is very dangerous.
The last video of the series was an hour and 45 minutes of Shane interviewing Jake Paul. Let me tell you. Tea was spilled. Shane had many pointed questions about Jake’s past behavior, starting off by asking him about the Martinez Twins’ (old members of “Team 10”) accusations of Jake bullying them. From the clips presented to the viewers, it seemed as if Jake had been explicitly racist, at times using racial slurs. To me, it seemed as if Jake held this holier-than-thou mentality during the Shane interview, where he believed that he has moved past his mistakes of bullying and bad behavior. However, I don’t particularly believe him. He contradicted his own statement that he has improved as a person, by outwardly denying that he was even racist in the first place. He explained that that was the “culture” of the house, sharing excuses for not just his, but everyone in the house’s racist behavior. Although I do not approve of any situation where it is justified to have an atmosphere with racist tendencies, I do believe him about, what I would call, the toxic culture of the “Team 10” house.
In one of the earlier videos, Shane tours the “Team 10” house, where he is constantly running into different crazy video ideas and activities in every room. In one room there was a boxing ring where Shane witnessed one guy rolling through dozens of mouse traps, and outside of the house, there was a complete ATV off-road course. The house seemed to be the ultimate “man-cave.” The culture of the house was obviously an outlet to thoroughly express and “enjoy” traditional masculine behaviors of recklessness. Other past audacious behavior Jake has engaged in has been lighting his pool on fire and jumping on top of news vans during a T.V. interview, seeming to have no concern for anyone’s safety. When Jake has had “beef” with someone, he fights it out in a boxing ring, which is probably the most stereotypically masculine thing someone could do. Smh.
What shocked me the most was when Shane bluntly addressed Jake about his lack of regard for his own behavior and power. Shane told Jake frankly that he is “emotionally stunted”. I completely agree. Shane pointed out that Jake has a huge influence over his fanbase of 17 plus million followers on Youtube since his viewers are so young. Jake’s viewer demographic is children between the ages of 8 and 16, so he can easily manipulate them, whether it is instructing them to buy his merchandise or to believe him when he says that teachers and school are superfluous. In the same way, Jake’s young viewers are witnessing a pantomime of hyper-masculinity. In my opinion, Jake is validating many male preoccupations that many boys will think that they need to live up. Being strong, having expensive cars, engaging in reckless stunts and fights. This is what I think is so dangerous about people like Jake Paul. Children and especially young boys are watching someone embody and justify this toxic and hyper-masculine depiction of a man. What irked me was the way that Jake vehemently denied the claims that he is being manipulative over his audience. It seems as if Jake cares more about showing his masculinity and being reckless than trying to curb his bad behavior. He needs to acknowledge the way he is presenting himself to his young audience and the toxic behavior he has engrossed himself in.
Shane also addressed the controversial topic of Jake’s brother, Logan Paul, sleeping with Jake’s alleged ex-girlfriend Alissa Violet. There is an obvious and explicitly addressed competition between the two brothers, where they are always trying to one-up each other, both in popularity and in reckless challenges. Ultimately, in order for Logan to assert his masculinity above Jake, he had to deeply hurt his brother emotionally. To me, Logan’s exhibition of masculinity and lack of regard for anyone around him is ten times worse than anything Jake has ever done. I thought Jake was bad, but I am scared of Logan. So Shane, where that Logan documentary at?
Overall, Jake is not a terrible guy, butut he does exhibit a world of unrealistic masculine expectations and has a huge audience that soaks up every word he says. But we need to give a round of applause to Shane Dawson for bringing light to Jake’s issues. I can only hope that Jake takes these criticisms to heart and learns to become a better influence for his young viewers.