Jake Paul, the vlogger known for his tremendous popularity among teens (and for being the single worst neighbor in the state of California) decided to step back from his life of stunts and opulence to tackle a serious subject he knows nothing about: school shootings. Specifically, he’d like to stop them from happening.
Paul seems to have learned from the highly publicized gaffes of his older brother—who dipped a callous toe into upsetting subject matter with his now-infamous suicide forest video. Jake, to his credit, went down to Parkland, Florida to speak with survivors, their families, local officials, and Senator Marco Rubio, all with the intent of solving the ongoing problem of gun violence in America.
What becomes immediately apparent is that Paul, like other YouTubers, is a poor interviewer, asking broad questions that are either deeply uninformed or calculatedly non-combative. In the case of Marco Rubio—fresh off getting utterly destroyed by a teenager on national television—Paul’s hardest question was “I think like a lot of people think passing laws is super easy. Can you explain some of the struggles around passing laws?” Rubio provides some rambling non-answers, sprinkled with an inane 9/11 reference, which do little to change his image among America’s youth of the senator as a slimy NRA shill.
In that sense, the interview went close to perfect.
But back to the matter at hand: Jake Paul’s serious plan to fix a serious issue. According to him, there are five points repeated by the subjects in Parkland he spoke to. One—increased action from social media companies—actually rings as valuable, albeit delivered in typical vlogger-dumbass parlance:
If a girl posts a picture with her nipples out it automatically gets flagged and removed from Instagram and like, reported under a system. So why can’t we have that same technology with a kid taking a selfie with a handgun or a kid in a video killing animals. That should pop up on someone’s radar and companies should have the moral responsibility to add that to their flagging systems.
Cool—I agree! Given that Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooter’s Instagram posts which depicted his arsenal and documented an incident of animal abuse, social media companies owe that to their users and the public. And perhaps framing dull subject matter (user safety) in relatable teen terms (LOL NUDEZ) might get a young audience to consider this as an important chance to demand.
I take it all back, Jake Paul is a genius.
Paul’s other four points on his action plan essentially boil down to greater militarization of schools: bulletproof windows, heightened police presence, check-in points, and bulletproof backpack inserts for kids. Though “a balanced and actionable approach to gun reform” appears in the description of Paul’s video—and a ban on assault weapons is suggested by a survivor he speaks to—it doesn’t make the cut, for reasons unknown.
There’s not much substance to the nearly 22-minute video which has functionally put Paul’s channel on hiatus for the past two weeks, though it’s hard to make the case he’s actively causing harm.
The video culminates with Paul teasing further videos following the story of a family of survivors, and a promise to donate $25,000 “to the cause”—presumably the Stoneman Douglas Victims’ Fund linked in the video. There are five donations of that amount listed. At this time, none are from Jake Paul, though we hope to see his name listed among Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza and Spirit Airlines soon.
Update 3/12/18 7:54pm ET: Approximately three hours after the video went live, Paul clarified his specific recommendations for gun reform to his 3.1 million followers on Twitter, which included an end to gun shows and mandatory mental health evaluations for prospective firearms buyers.
Welcome, comrade Jake.