Shane Dawson's new docu-series asks if Jake Paul is a sociopath

Self proclaimed “grandpa of YouTube”, Shane Dawson has experienced somewhat of a career renaissance since his Streamy-award winning docu-series The Truth About TanaCon. If you haven’t watched it yet, get yourself a glass of rosé and settle in. Imagine if VidCon and Fyre Fest had a one night stand and you’ll understand the hellfire that was Tana Mongeau’s failed fan convention last June. Dawson understandably received considerable flack for his sympathetic portrayal of Mongeau’s careless business venture which left some of her young fans with severe sunburns.

This time Dawson has turned his lens to another controversial YouTuber in his new docu-series, The Mind of Jake Paul. Ever the fan of conspiracy theories, the eight-parter explores the question: Is this 21-year-old social media star a sociopath?

Paul rose to fame in 2013 on the now defunct Vine. He then got a role on the Disney Channel in 2015 before launching his own marketing management and talent agency called Team 10 last year. Before this series, I knew little about him aside from a New York Times profile and stuff my sister had told me. Until a week ago I couldn’t even tell him apart from his older brother, Logan. You know, the one who was at the center of the Suicide Forest controversy last year. To be honest, I was surprised Dawson wasn’t focusing on Logan, but Jake has had scandals of his own. To name a few, Jake was fired from Disney after causing public disturbance in the former Team 10 neighborhood. He’s been accused of emotional manipulation by ex-girlfriend Alissa Violet. Oh, and he dropped the N-word in a leaked “freestyle rap video.”

As someone who knew almost zilch about this person, I was eager to see what Dawson would reveal. What he lacks in investigative skills Dawson makes up for in access. He interviews Paul, Violet, his current girlfriend Erika Costell and former Team 10 member Nick Crompton (Logan declined.) His unassuming, “Nice Guy” persona is what wins his peers’ trust. On the flipside, Dawson is presumably so afraid of being disliked that he fails to push the harder questions on Paul. There are times it seems Dawson’s almost making excuses for Paul’s toxic behavior. Disturbingly, there was a bit where he disclosed there wouldn’t be music playing over Paul’s interview because of sensitive subject matter, despite not giving the same consideration to Violet.

It’s also troubling that Dawson has sensationalized an already stigmatized mental illness. The term “sociopath” is actually an outdated term for antisocial personality disorder.

Sadly, this series is yet another sympathetic portrayal of an entitled, straight, white, cis dude. I’m not expecting a Werner Herzog level documentary, but there doesn’t seem to be much accountability for Paul’s actions. Instead we get a sob story about his parents and his trust issues. Because don’t all toxic white men have a reason to be sad?

The Mind of Jake Paul has already clocked over 1.2 million views. This should tide you over while you’re waiting for the next season of American Vandal.

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