Written by Amber Jackson |
** Claps hands together **
Let’s talk about it.
This article needs to be prefaced with the knowledge that Twitter is changing its mind literally every day on this topic. “Do we still love Shane? Or is he now YouTube trash? Wait, what about the tea, sis?”Oh, the power of the internet. But this isn’t me about to rant about how YouTube is doomed, because not all YouTubers fall into what I’m going to be discussing here. In an attempt to understand, I’m going to try my best to sum up my thoughts on this subject that is constantly reinventing itself, which is: YouTube.
“I’m going to try my best to sum up my thoughts on this subject that is constantly reinventing itself, which is: YouTube.”
Shane Dawson is the example that I’m using, mainly because over the past year and a half, I’ve found myself engaging the most with his content. From creating videos about fast food, to making a deliberate and sudden move to create full-length series about places and people that really interest him, it’s clear that Shane isn’t afraid to push boundaries and that’s what gets him views. So naturally, his latest docu-series on YouTuber Jake Paul should have been no different, right? Turns out there are a lot of split opinions about it.
His new series ‘The Mind of Jake Paul’ (which is still running) details Jake Paul’s rise to fame and why he behaves in such a controversial way. It ventures into topics such as sociopathy, controversy behind Jake Paul’s ‘brand’, ‘Team 10’ and his family. Halfway into this series and I’m hooked (well, let’s face it, I was hooked from the get go) – so I’m excited to see the direction that it takes.
I can’t pretend to know everything about Jake Paul or his brother, Logan, but the topics being discussed by Shane have invited a lot of outrage and upset around his depiction of Jake Paul as having potential sociopathic tendencies. Consequently, due to the controversy, the series is attracting a lot of attention, with each episode is averaging roughly 17 million views.
So, if Shane’s depiction of Jake is so bad, why are people watching?
Ultimately, what Shane is always so good at reminding us is that there is a person behind every camera. His previous docu-series have looked at influencers in the YouTube sphere that are viewed as controversial, which allows Shane to speak to them and show the audience another side to them. Going into this series, many viewers were annoyed with the possibility of Jake Paul being redeemed or sympathised with, due to his questionable behaviour.
This mentality opens the discussion up to YouTube Culture itself and how the platform has changed and even veered away from its original goal. You see clips of YouTubers that were popular in 2013/14 (when mainstream media began to pay proper attention) expressing joy at how they worked for an understanding company that prided itself on being built through collaboration rather than competition. Looking at YouTubers such as Jake Paul, we can see that the tone may have shifted slightly. Instead of collaboration, there is competition – many (not all) content creators now use drama to hook their audiences and drag other people down to build their subscriber count.
But what is the cost of this? Countless apology videos, tweets and explanations, whilst individuals try and salvage their personal reputations as a result of their public errors? Public drama? More pressure to make money?
“But this is precisely why Shane Dawson’s videos are doing so well.”
He demonstrates that audiences’ interests have shifted. We like gritty realism, we thrive on and even crave documentary-style vlogs and a more brutally personal insight into a person’s life. We’re nosy and intrusive, we need to know everything.
Shane’s videos cater to exactly that. He films himself, with the help of his friend and cameraman Andrew Siwicki, along with his other close friends, going about their antics in a comical, yet incredibly real way. They make jokes about their lives, visit creepy places such as The Stanley Hotel and give us behind the scenes to what really goes on in the life of content creators like Jeffree Star or Tana Mongeau. We laugh, we cry, we find ourselves re-watching over and over again – it’s more like real life.
However, when it comes to the Jake Paul series, the debate online is fast-paced, changing hourly. In response to the backlash of the first three parts, part 4 of the series held nothing back. Shane interviewed Nick Crompton, who used to live in the Team 10 house, and the revelation was that the pranks that Jake Paul cultivated were fake. This invites further intrigue surrounding Jake’s persona. I have seen tweets that pray that Shane Dawson doesn’t make Jake Paul look like a decent person. This, alongside claims that Shane is villainising Jake. It’s also very interesting how Shane is addressing the controversy generated by him putting out his series, explaining why he’s still editing in a horror style and how no one has analysed Jake in this manner before.
The virtual veil of reality created by the internet is a little deceiving. It craves perfection, validation and therefore when somebody makes a mistake, this invites amplified criticism, scrutiny and debate. Shane has cultivated so much discussion around this topic because ultimately, he’s trying something different with a platform now preoccupied with AdSense and algorithms. New is scary. Perhaps problematic, as we’ve seen with the response to ‘The Mind of Jake Paul’ – but he’s doing it anyway, because he believes it’s the right thing to do. And I think that’s great.
After being delayed over the weekend, and after much anticipation, Part 5 of Shane Dawson’s series ‘The Mind of Jake Paul’ is being released on youtube.com/shane tonight.