By PJ HEUSTED
Over the course of three weeks, Shane Dawson published his eight-part YouTube documentary series titled “The Mind of Jake Paul.” The series contained nearly seven hours of edited footage consisting of interviews with current and former members of Jake Paul’s media company Team 10, a therapist, and, eventually, Paul himself. Dawson manages to completely immerse himself in the culture of the infamous Team 10 and attempts to understand the chaos that comes with being associated with them.
The scope of the project is large. Dawson attempts to understand Paul’s mindset, find out the truth about a number of the Team 10 scandals, potentially diagnose Paul as a sociopath, and create an entertaining documentary series. However, does it really warrant an eight-part series? In the last year, Dawson has taken on a number of multi-part documentary series, each progressively longer than the last. I think that Dawson rather overestimates the dedication of his fanbase or the intrigue of his videos.
In a series called “The Mind of Jake Paul,” Dawson waits to introduce Paul until the fifth episode, having spent the first four episodes reacting to Paul’s channel, talking to a therapist, and chatting with an ex-member of Team 10. That’s nearly four hours in a Jake Paul series that hardly contains Paul himself. This attempt to build suspense comes across as a cheap way to extend the length of the series, draw in more views, and make more money.
The series itself is not set up to be a redemption arc for Paul with Dawson; in fact, Dawson advertises it more as a thriller-style questioning of the psychological state of Jake Paul. The inclusion of “spooky music” edited behind clips, dramatic transitions between scenes, and fearmongering with the suggestion of sociopathy build a dramatized conversation within the series. Instead of an honest approach to the brand that Paul has created for himself, Dawson seemingly attempts to create a pseudo-thriller documentary.
By the time Paul appears in the series, the initial question of his potential status as a sociopath is put on the backburner; instead, Dawson focuses more on the scandals in which Team 10 has been involved. Dawson’s reasoning behind not making this the focus of the entire series, as it is more honest and less clickbait-driven, is beyond me. However, the element of fear that Dawson capitalizes on in the early episodes carries through as he brings the therapist and fellow YouTuber Kati Morton along with him to Paul’s house.
I can’t help but be impressed with the fact that Dawson executed such a large project and then uploaded it for free to YouTube; however, I’m let down by the way in which he approached the project. Dawson exploits the fear of those affected by mental health issues, creates an unnecessarily long series with no clear focus, and has engaged in a number of arguments on social media in which he seems closed off to criticism regarding the series. Is it entertaining? Sure. Is watching seven hours of dramatically edited footage of conversations with people not necessarily qualified to speak about Paul or to his mental health worth it? I don’t think that it is.