Jake Paul’s Controversial Behaviour Has Been Ramping Up In The Pandemic
Jake Paul’s been getting a bunch of attention recently with his seriously divisive behaviour and last week his Calabasas mansion was raided by the FBI.
So, why does Jake Paul keep making headlines, and why should we even care about anything a guy like this does?
WTF Is The Deal With Jake Paul
Jake Paul and his older brother Logan got their start on Vine back in the day, by making comedy sketches. When the platform shut down they transitioned over to YouTube.
Jake Paul’s output on YouTube is mostly a combination of clickbait stunts and music videos – and they do really, really well.
Paul currently has over 20 million subscribers on YouTube and about 13 million Instagram followers.
Michelle Rennex: “Thanks to his YouTube channel, Jake Paul has actually been given a lot of other opportunities. So, he’s actually acted on the Disney channel and he does professional boxing against other YouTubers at the moment.”
That’s Michelle Rennex, she’s a senior writer at Junkee and she’s been following the Pauls for a long time.
For everybody outside of his YouTube fan base, Jake Paul has essentially made a name for himself as a wealthy young guy who does controversial things that really enrage people.
And that reputation has only been building throughout the pandemic.
The Pandemic Is Not Slowing Him Down
Back in May, he was caught in Arizona filming the looting at a mall during the Black Lives Matter protests. He denied that he was involved in the looting, but he was still heavily criticised for being there with a camera in the first place. And the FBI raid that happened last week was tied to an investigation into the looting allegations.
Paul’s public condemnation was really compounded when footage surfaced of him throwing giant parties at his Calabasas mansion, with zero social distancing or masks in sight.
After he was criticised by the Mayor of Calabasas, Paul responded by saying he wasn’t going to “sit around and not live [his] life”.
So, what’s the real issue when somebody like Jake Paul acts out like this?
Firstly, it’s undeniable that Paul has a lot of influence online.
MR: “Instead of using his platform of 30 million followers to encourage social distancing and, staying at home to flatten the curve, Jake’s making not caring for others seem cool.”
But it’s not just about numbers. There’s a pretty stark difference between him and other famous YouTubers that – whether he likes it or not – makes his behaviour matter more.
Jake Paul Has A Really Young Audience
Rennex told me that Paul’s audience mostly consists of children and young teenagers. So, while other stars pull similar stunts showing off perverse amounts of wealth, Paul is showing it to a different demographic.
MR: “I think the problem with Jake Paul is that he really doesn’t realise his audience skews really young. In his mind, he thinks that his audience is people who are his age – and he’s in his 20s.
But in reality, its children who watch him. Children love fast cars and seeing these clickbaity things. It’s this kind of vicious cycle and that’s what happens when you base your entire audience on young mindsets. [But] you have to be creating content that isn’t damaging to them.”
Rennex said Jake Paul might have good intentions but his public image problems basically come down to a lack of self-reflection. And that means important messages around white privilege aren’t being communicated to these kids who follow and love his content.
MR: “I don’t think he has anybody on his team who’s willing to tell him that when he does things wrong, he’s not being held accountable, and that’s the power that comes with being a rich white man.”
YouTube is a place full of conspicuous wealth, flaunted by young people who do irresponsible things a lot.
But Jake Paul really sets himself apart. Partly because he has a serious amount of wealth and he can behave particularly terribly. And also, because he’s communicating these messages to a younger audience than other YouTube mega stars – and whether he acknowledges it or not, it means that his brand of crappy behaviour just matters more.