Why "Fifteen Minutes of Fame" Culture is Toxic

Disclaimer: These opinions are all my own, and don’t reflect the opinions of Her Campus or Her Campus UNCW.

The internet is buzzing about Shane Dawson’s 8-part series on Jake Paul. Some people support it and even feel like their opinions on Jake Paul have been changed. They appreciate the fact that Shane is showing a different side of Jake, one that we don’t often see in his vlogs.

Others, however, are not happy with Shane putting someone with a terrible reputation in the spotlight. People say that Jake Paul is racist and abusive and that Shane shouldn’t give him a platform. Also, people criticize the dramatization of the whole series and the treatment of mental illness as something scary.

No matter which side you are on, we can all agree that “The Mind of Jake Paul” miniseries revealed something interesting about YouTubers: the things we see in vlogs that seem so off-the-cuff and impromptu are often scripted.

Nick Crompton, Alissa Violet, and Jake Paul all admitted that the wild pranks at the Team 10 House were planned ahead of time. While deep down I knew this all along, it got me thinking about how far people are willing to go for internet fame.

YouTube is a full-time job now. To become a vlogger or YouTuber that’s successful enough to quit your day job, you have to fully commit to making videos that are interesting enough for people to share on social media and subscribe to your channel. To keep your audience entertained, you have to up the ante each video. That means more challenging videos and mind-boggling tricks or stunts that will get people talking.

It’s why Jake Paul performs dangerous stunts and pranks. It’s why people title their videos “WE MADE A HUGE MISTAKE *EMOTIONAL* *NOT CLICKBAIT*.” It’s why Shane chose to focus on a problematic public figure in the first place.

Catching people’s attention isn’t just about quirky titles, eye-catching thumbnails, and clickbait. People will put themselves in harm’s way to get views. For example, last year a man convinced his girlfriend to shoot at a thick book he was holding for a YouTube video. The bullet went through the book and he was fatally wounded. It begs the question, are fifteen minutes of fame really worth your life?

Shane’s new series is interesting because it gives viewers the chance to see the real personality of an influential person. However, this series will only give Jake more viewers, which means he’s going to have to keep doing ridiculous things on camera to keep his massive following. That might incite copycats to try the stunts he does, which will do nothing but cause more problems.

Society’s obsession with fame and stardom may seem harmless, but it can have dire consequences.