Shane Dawson has consistently delivered new content to his YouTube channel for over ten years. Whether you like him or not, Shane is embedded in YouTube pop culture as being an original. He became a YouTuber before the term even existed in people’s brains. However, his fan base has changed over the years and many, like me, are just re-discovering him due to his new content.
Shane’s new ventures involve multi-part YouTube series on YouTubers. He recently released an entertaining series involving Tana Mongeau and Jeffree Starr. His newest series, “The Mind of Jake Paul,” has been met with polarizing reactions. Some say the 8-part series is laughable and over-the-top, while others praise it as being a success for the platform and creators alike. Suffice to say, Dawson has been able to capture a large audience with an average of 17.5 million views on each video.
“The Mind of Jake Paul” aims to understand YouTuber Jake Paul’s motivations and explore the numerous controversies that have been littered throughout his career. Paul has been called the most hated YouTuber on the platform due to his run-ins with the law, over-the-top content, false accusations towards other YouTubers, and allegations of abuse. “The Mind of Jake Paul” is different than other YouTube content in that the series maintains a laid-back documentary format. The cameraman, Andrew, is an important component of the series and there is a frequent comedic banter throughout shots. After all, Dawson’s channel remains primarily comedic.
The first few parts of the series explore the public hatred of Jake and his brother Logan Paul. Jake is portrayed as a menacing figure, even labeled as a possible sociopath due to his controversial actions on his channel and in the media. The series then evolves into a study of Paul’s friends and early background. Paul’s old friends are interviewed, many of whom reveal secrets about the toxic environment surrounding Jake Paul’s infamous “Team 10.” Dawson eventually visits Paul in his Los Angeles mansion, where Paul’s abundant wealth and affinity for cars become apparent, to the comedic surprise of Dawson and his crew. Dawson brings along a psychologist, who aims to study Paul’s behavior under the guise of being Dawson’s assistant.
Dawson cuts away from the “psychopath” accusations after he meets Paul, as there even seems to be a growing camaraderie between the two. The series becomes repetitive halfway through, with Dawson seemingly stalling his big interview with Jake until the very end. Each part is about 40-50 minutes, with the finale lasting a grueling hour and a half. Dawson seems nearly directionless with a few episodes, and much of the same information is repeated over and over.
Of course, Dawson is not an interviewer or television personality. He is a YouTuber. He aims to bring people closer to him and make them feel like they are a part of his everyday life. The series is not always polished, nor does it contain a linear storyline like Netflix or cable shows. This format can be good for short video vlogs or comedy videos, but it doesn’t always hold up well in long formats like this. The videos tend to drag on longer than they should, and Dawson takes quite a while to get to his main points. Shane did not need to make 8 hour-long parts; most of the series could have been condensed into four parts.
The series is definitely a draw for audiences interested in Shane’s content or the story of Jake Paul, but it is catered for a specific audience. Teenagers would find Dawson’s content more appealing than adults or those interested in an actual character study of Paul. Unfortunately, Dawson succumbs to over-sentimentality during parts of the series. He draws out engaging information but tends to give Paul too much sympathy without grilling him on his serious character flaws. We can see that Dawson is a good guy from the way he interacts carefully with everyone in the series. However, his empathy doesn’t help him when he is supposed to be giving unbiased interviews. Too often, he seems to give Paul leeway on serious issues like the mental abuse of his ex-girlfriend and the vandalism of the Team 10 house.
Longtime and newer fans lap up Dawson’s content, defending his every move. However, as easy as Dawson is to enjoy, it is important to recognize the weaknesses in his series. If YouTubers ever want to be taken seriously as filmmakers or artists, they must step up their content and production to compete with mainstream media.
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