As the internet has developed and continued to progress into its full potential, no entity has received quite as much blame for instant gratification culture. When shows that aired once a week over the course of several years are suddenly on Netflix in their entirety and able to be binge-watched within weeks, critics argue that audiences are losing their ability to wait for content. A new series, however, is proving those critics wrong, and it comes from an unlikely place.
Shane Dawson, one of the original “YouTubers” known for his comedic sketches, has shifted gears in a major way. In summer of 2018, Dawson released a three-part documentary series following a controversial failed YouTuber meet-and-greet known as “Tanacon.” The subject matter, as well as Dawson’s decision to release the series part-by-part, garnered praise and attention from viewers.
It wasn’t until August, however, that Dawson’s new delve in documentary filmmaking took off. An eight-part series called “The Secret World of Jeffree Star,” released video-by-video over the course of Aug. 1-Aug. 9, took a deep dive into the secretive and controversial Jeffree Star’s businesses, relationships and personal history. Dawson was lauded for creating a complex profile of a widely-disliked individual by doing extreme research, talking to those close to Star, and by generally creating the opportunity for genuine self-reflection and honesty. Jeffree Star seemed to top the list of controversial celebrities of YouTube fame, until Dawson’s new series announcement on Sept. 11.
Jake Paul, Vine-made and YouTube-sustained celebrity, is controversial for a plethora of reasons, all explored in Dawson’s new series, “The Mind of Jake Paul.” Whether it be his brother Logan’s decision to film a dead body in Japan’s Aokigahara Forest (also known as the Japanese Suicide Forest), his dangerous and arguably cruel pranks, detailings of abuse from ex-girlfriends or his rowdiness that has caused upset reports from neighbors, there seemed to be no end to Jake Paul’s controversy.
If Dawson’s Jeffree Star series revolved around one question, that question would most likely relate to exactly how Star acquired his wealth. The series discussed at length his expensive clothes, house and lifestyle as well as the businesses that got him there. “The Mind of Jake Paul,” however, is more blatant with its central question. The series revolves around whether or not Jake Paul is a sociopath, enlisting the help of therapist Katie Morton. Dawson received some backlash for this, as some viewers believed he was irresponsibly portraying sociopaths as inherently dangerous. Dawson reworked following videos to respect those views, remaining open to the criticism.
Thus far, parts 1 through 6 are available to watch on YouTube. Paul himself isn’t introduced until Part 5. The first four chronicle Dawson’s research, including his initial discussion with the therapist who eventually becomes a regular part of the series. Beginning in Part 5, however, Dawson visits the iconic Team 10 House, where Paul lives with girlfriend Erika Costell and the rest of “Team 10,” a group of influencers managed by Paul.
The series, at this point, has accomplished a goal similar to that of Dawson’s Jeffree Star series. Profiling a controversial, somewhat mysterious and widely disliked public figure, “The Mind of Jake Paul” strives to tell the whole truth about the complexities of the individual behind the camera, with an impressive amount of research and professional-level editing to back it up.