Opinion: The Mind of Shane Dawson


On the internet, between the heated arguments in chat rooms and comment sections, between the pro-memers and social medialites,  a new question is arising. What is going on with YouTube? Once a hotspot for creativity and ingenuity, YouTube is now a shell of its former self.  Between the infamous Tanacon and Logan Paul’s trip to Japan, YouTube is infested with various scandals.

That’s where Shane Dawson comes in.  A true internet personality, Shane has 18,000,000 subscribers on YouTube and a collective following of 19,000,000 over his Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts.  He’s risen to star status on the internet- and now, he’s changing the way we view YouTube and the people it idolizes.

First uploaded on Sep. 25, the 8 part series dubbed “The Mind of Jake Paul” is the new tell-all documentary created by Dawson, and it’s tearing the internet apart.  Dawson has done previous documentaries focusing on controversial YouTubers in the past. His videos on Tana Mongeau and Jeffree Star have received tens of millions of views.  But his newest series on Jake Paul is different. For one, even though his past series have been controversial, none of them can hold a candle to the controversies raised by this newest edition to Dawson’s channel.

To really understand the concerns raised by this series, you first have to know the history behind Jake Paul. His claim to fame first began on Vine.  After the now defunct app shut down, the social media star transferred over to YouTube. Since then, many scandals have marred his short career. First there was the complaints from neighbors.  The people who lived in his neighborhood were upset with the dangerous stunts he seemed to do everyday for YouTube, even going so far as to set fire to his own pool. The most jarring controversy however, was the supposed breakup and removal of Alyssa Violet from their residence in Los Angeles.

So when Shane Dawson unveiled to the world his new documentary, many were dismayed at the idea.  How could he give even more attention to Jake Paul, someone who most clearly did not deserve it? I for one, like so many others, was excited for the series.  This was the first time any YouTuber had attempted to look into the personal life of Jake Paul.

“The Mind of Jake Paul”  fixated on the idea that Jake might be a sociopath.  As we learn later in the series, he certainly exhibits some qualities that raise the alarm.  But the darker question, and the overall underlying theme, is should YouTube really prioritize and even idolize someone who is most clearly a bad influence?  What sort of climate is YouTube promoting? Jake Paul’s main demographic of subscribers are kids from about 8-16 years old, a very impressionable age group. When they watch his videos, ripe with obscenity, what image does that send?  That it’s okay to act a certain way if you’re rich?

Now it’s not entirely Jake Paul’s fault.  He didn’t ask for a younger subscriber group, especially when his content was targeted for a much older target audience.  But to pander and even manipulate these kids for money, as he once went so far as to make a whole song dedicated to buying his merch, is just plain wrong.  

Shane Dawson understood that.  Why would YouTube make Jake Paul it’s poster child if he was such a horrible person?  So Shane, like any good investigator knows, figured that to really get a sense of what Jake was like, he’d have to see what happened when the cameras turned off.  He knew he’d have to talk to people who were close to Jake and even experience what it was like to hang out with him. In the course of the series, he conducted many interviews with former and current friends, all giving their personal views of the real Jake Paul.  All said that the Jake from the videos was very different from the Jake in real life.

But there are two sides to every story, so Shane Dawson did something nobody had done before, and actually looked into his personal life first hand.  The changes were staggering. This Jake Paul was nice and down to earth, and it looked like he actually cared about the well being of his friends. Nothing like the Jake Paul in his atrocious videos.  The interview Dawson conducted with him also showed a different side of him, someone usually reserved exhibiting raw emotion. It painted the picture of someone who wanted attention, but regretted the way he had found it.  Maybe Jake Paul was trying to be a better person after all.

Before this series, many people thought that Jake Paul was just about as horrible as someone could get.  But Dawson helped to clean up the tarnished image Jake had created. People view him differently now, and for the better.  Shane Dawson tried and succeeded in helping someone who so desperately needed it. In my opinion, Shane did something YouTube could not: reevaluate and help clean up one of the most controversial figures on the platform.  Even though he has been on YouTube for 10 years, I believe this is only the beginning of his true significance to the platform. Shane Dawson is trying to fix YouTube, one video at a time.

So, my only question is, what will he try fixing next?