Jake Paul wants to tell his audience about gun violence in America, but it’s difficult to listen when his current views seem to be contradicted by one of Paul’s earlier videos.
Jake Paul, the younger brother of notorious YouTube creator Logan Paul and who boasts 14 million subscribers, uploaded a 20-minute documentary to his YouTube channel today focusing on the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. With the video, Paul wanted to inspire conversation about school shootings, what the government is doing to prevent them and, according to his description, gun reform laws.
“In my humble and respectful opinion,” Paul wrote in the video’s description, “without a balanced and actionable approach to gun reform, mental health awareness, effective bullying solutions, school safety measures, truly teaching our youth and adults how to be more mindful and empathetic, better community-wide communication and reporting, etc., we simply cannot effectively correct the current course we’re on.”
In the documentary, Paul talks to survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, Florida senator Marco Rubio, local parents and law enforcement about how they feel future school shootings can be prevented. Paul presents possible preventative measures, including installing bulletproof glass in schools and requiring social media companies like Instagram to better flag gun-related content. However, Paul never actually mentions gun reform laws in the video — just the description. Paul followed up the documentary with a tweet about his views on gun reform change, and the steps that should be introduced before Americans can purchase a weapon.
Gun Reform changes we need in my opinion.— Jake Paul (@jakepaul) March 12, 2018
1. be at least 21 to buy a gun
2. Go through a 6 month minimum course (similar to a drivers license course)
3. Professional Mental Heath evaluation
4. Ban Gun shows now!
5. 30 day wait period after purchase to receive firearm pic.twitter.com/pe7YXgLcR5
The documentary is well-intended, but stands in conflict with a message Paul sent to his community last year. One video from May 2017, embedded below, has Paul posing with a semi-automatic weapon in a variety of fetishistic poses, including with a bikini-clad woman on the hood of a car, before helping his friends learn to shoot the weapon.
“We have 20 pounds of explosives, and we have machine guns,” Paul brags in the video, as he prepares to “prank” his friends by blowing up their cars. Later in the video, two friends from Paul’s YouTube vlogging squad Team 10 showing off their machine gun thigh tattoos. Paul also sports a similar tattoo.
Paul then requests for close-ups of the guns and ammo, set to exaggerated vlogging transition music.
The video — initially about driving out to the desert so they can blow up cars — devolves into a montage of people posing in different positions with the guns.
The gun is passed among the group. At on point, Paul hands the gun to his business partner, Nick Crompton. “I don’t know if I trust you,” Paul says to Crompton, who says he’s never previously held a gun. “Neither do I,” Crompton replies, jokingly. “‘Cause I do want to shoot people right now.”
The video ends with a black-and-white montage of Paul’s friends shooting his gun. Paul never includes a disclaimer to talk about gun violence; he also never once mentions gun control.
Another video in which Paul participates features him at a shooting range with his brother Logan, each excitedly talking about firing weapons. Jake fires off round after round, laughing about how it “was the best experience ever.” Paul never takes a second to discuss gun safety or gun reform, instead the video focuses on guns as objects of fun.
In previous videos, Paul gives off the appearance that he’s a proponent of gun culture. Paul’s most popular song, “It’s Everyday Bro,” which has been viewed close to 200 million times, includes a line about he and his friends shooting guns, and getting machine gun tattoos “just for fun.” This Jake Paul — the one so obsessed with guns that he has one tattooed on his leg — is different from the version of himself in the documentary asking Marco Rubio about gun control laws.
The new video is important for his viewers, many of whom are impressionable children, to see, but without reflection on the earlier video, it comes off as disingenuous. If Paul wants to seriously discuss gun control, he may benefit from taking a closer look at his own channel.