Shane Dawson fails to get “inside the mind” of Jake Paul

Peter O'Neill

Shane Dawson made a recent documentary style video on influencer Jake Paul, uploaded on Youtube.

It’s dramatic. It’s content. It’s views. It’s Jake Paul.

Shane Dawson’s eight-part series about the controversial 21-year-old vlogger originally from Ohio is a big hit. The finale of the documentary currently sits at 20 million views on YouTube and has generated various reactions and think pieces.

The horror movie motifs are the first thing that strike you when watching ‘The Mind of Jake Paul’. Quick edits jump out featuring dramatic music and shots of maniacal laughter more befitting a show about the Zodiac Killer than a vlogger. This is odd, considering Dawson often describes his role not just as a documentarian, but as someone who wants to help Paul. It’s easy to tell that the series was being filmed as the first episodes were posted online and not shot fully before releasing. Although this benefits the later episodes as the sociopath angle Dawson takes early on is dropped for the most part, the fact that Dawson felt the need to over-dramatize his subject matter hints at his own insecurities in making the series.

However, Inside the Mind does succeed in giving the viewer a much better understanding of why Jake Paul’s personality is the way it is. Dawson dives into the backstory of his upbringing. It features a messy divorce between his parents during his early teenage years which Dawson theorises hindered Paul’s emotional development. The viewer also learns about his competitive relationship with his brother, Logan. However, the most interesting aspect of his family life is easily his father Gregory. His father still retains an active and controlling stake in Paul’s life, even to the point of living in the floor above him in his son’s multi-story house of influencers and friends.

Although self-aware of the potential back-lash for giving Jake Paul a redemption arc, Dawson pushes on and strives to give Jake one. This does prove interesting, and there is a better image of Paul presented to the viewer than the commonly held one by the end of the series. However, Shane Dawson makes a massive error in not pressing Paul on one of the revelations in part seven of the documentary. Paul’s ex-girlfriend Alyssa alleges that while living with the vlogger, he would frequently have sexual relations with “Instagram models” whilst giving them the pretense that they might be able to join his vlogger business, Team 10, by hanging out with him. The fact that Dawson, not only over-looked this during his interview with her but didn’t bother mentioning it in the final part of the series when he had final interview with Paul himself is astounding. Paul had a lot of power in this situation, and although young himself, you get the impression from the interview that he was at the very least taking advantage of the power he had when conducting these relationships with these young impressionable women. As much as his ex-girlfriend, who he had a very public falling out with, may be an unreliable narrator in this scenario, this should have been a major topic in the final interview.

This highlights one of the difficulties in having an amateur director for a documentary. Dawson’s attempts at trying to be nice and to “not cause more drama” hindered this documentary. This isn’t to say that beginner directors on YouTube creating fact-based documentaries shouldn’t bother attempting, but in this case, Dawson failed in creating a hard-hitting unbiased documentary, but he did give somewhat of a decent a character study on Paul’s head-space.


Peter O’Neill

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