My thought about Shane Dawson’s Jeffree Star series

Yes, I know I am a bit too late. Yes, I know I should have written this before I wrote about Shane’s Jake Paul one. But, after reading the comments that equate Jeffree Star with the youngest of the Paul Brothers, I have the urge to make this essay, arguing how both individuals are different from one another.

And yes, the title is misleading. Instead of only focusing on Jeffree’s, I will compare both. Does that count as a clickbait?

Now, first of all, I have to point out the intentions of both series, which are indeed entirely different one another.

When it comes to Jake Paul, Shane never intended to befriend him in the first place. Throughout the production, he acted more like a sometimes-unethical documentarian/investigator who would do anything to know about his (seemingly) monstrous subject. There are eight videos in total and Jake appears only in three of them; the other five are all about Shane digging some info about him, sternly reminding us of the horrible things he has done.

Also, thanks to the much-criticised ‘manipulative’ editing (even though ‘manipulative editing’ is such a redundant term), the entire series feels like a psychological thriller; it feels like Jake will ambush Shane without warning and kill him. With Jeffree, it is the complete opposite.

Shane did not treat him like a mere subject. In fact, probably because they had had interactions prior, Shane genuinely wanted to befriend the personality behind the controversial beauty guru persona, bonded with him on an intimate level. Jeffree appears in all five videos and Shane did not spend a single second digging info about him behind his back. Apart from a handful of serious and emotionally-heavy scenes, this series shares goofy (and bizarre) light-heartedness of Shane’s other recent videos.

While we are also exposed his ugly side, the videos are not over-saturated with such details. Instead, we are encouraged to swallow our judgement temporarily and let him do the storytelling himself. We are encouraged to believe that we know nothing about him. In the end, both series possess two entirely different lenses.

Jake does appear as a normal human being with feelings. But, after being constantly reminded of his ugly side, his seeming niceness fails to gain my sympathy. In fact, months after the series’ conclusion, I end up viewing him as a frail and pathetic human being who uses his shitty familial background to excuse his horrible behaviours. Again, that’s not the case with Jeffree.

Unlike Jake, he does not seem to care about how he is perceived. For one, he swanks his pricy personal possessions, a gesture known in the Youtube community as ‘flexing’ (assuming you are not a part of); it is deeply frowned upon and is seen as a sign of insecurity.

And yet, I am not disgusted by Jeffree’s action at all! Maybe it is something to do with the intention: while others just want to show rich and successful they are, he seems to care more about boasting his taste in fashion, something he seems to be genuinely passionate about. Maybe it is just me.

While Shane may claim he can feel for Jake regarding the relationships with their respective fathers and regarding their status as personae non gratae, the bonding between the two seems superficial. I will never know if there is a genuine emotional connection or not when the camera is off. But, I can confidently say the on-camera relationship is purely akin to one between an interviewer and an interviewee. Again, not with Jeffree.

I (and possibly other viewers as well) notice how Jeffree and Shane are sincerely amused by each other’s antics, bonding through a kindred sense of playfulness. It is evident how there is a bona fide connection between the two contentious personalities and the effortlessness is what makes it wonderful! To make it even more so, Jeffree is seen interacting with other members of the squad, like Andrew the cameraman, Garrett and Ryland, with relative ease. In spite of his air of mystery and aloofness, he seems pleasant to interact with.

Now, I do have to say what I just described above are the things Shane and Andrew wanted to include in the final touch. Therefore, both series are shaped by their perspectives.

(Side note: I also did an essay about the Jake Paul series, in which I ignored Andrew Siwicki’s pronounced involvement even though I already knew about his existence. My mistake).

But, if you go back the very first paragraph of this essay, I said something about how people compare Jeffree and Jake not because of those series, but because who they are as individuals. Some people actually believe both are the same and should never be given heartfelt tributes.

Obviously, those people are idiots.

Jeffree is perceived as a toxic public figure for his shamelessly provocative tendency. But, even if everyone absolutely agrees he emits a large amount of toxicity online, he is still not Jake Paul!

In case you are one of those idiots, you should know Jake specifically targets his brands towards children! As exposed by countless Youtube commentators, he deploys manipulative marketing manoeuvres which ensure a large section of his impressionable young fans (presumably the majority of them) will definitely purchase his merchandise. Oh, and merch is not the only thing he is ‘selling’ to them: he also sells transgression.

His videos also showcase some of the most crass pranks one can think of and shameless display of eroticism. At one point, he also made videos about how he supposedly got tormented by a gang of evil clowns… and tried to present them as ‘real’. Just a reminder: many of his fans are young children!

Then, while being confronted by Shane, he asserted that many of his fans (whose brains are objectively not fully developed yet, mind you) are smart enough to identify native advertising and won’t be tricked into pressuring their parents to buy the merch for them, smart enough to distinguish what is real and what isn’t. He also asserted how the critics were being pedantic and were mad about nothing.

See what he did there? Instead of admitting and apologising for his sins, he insulted everybody’s intelligence by giving an assertion anyone with a strong footing in reality can easily refute. He was so arrogant, he thought he could ‘own’ his ‘haters’ by treating us like his juvenile fans. Even though Shane gave him the platform to humanise himself, the smugness makes me loathe him even more! Again (I am not sorry for this repetition), not the case with Jeffree.

No matter how toxic his online persona is, his behaviours are still bound by some degree of personal ethics. For one, he markets his brand towards cosmetics enthusiasts (did I use the correct term?) who can handle brutal honesty and sass. He never targets it towards young children, let alone manipulating them to do his bidding!

Jeffree also hates pretension. Since his MySpace days, he always wittingly introduces himself as an individual of poor and unrefined character. He deliberately makes it so easy for everyone to hate him! Even then, he still can feel guilty about his past actions.

After it was revealed he yelled the N-word in a video, he made a really good apology video in which he does not deflect the blame on others and does not try to make us feel sorry for him. While I find it a bit too long and not straightforward enough, it is as sincere as Pewdiepie’s after he was also caught yelling the same abusive word.

Despite my lack of familiarity with every single one of Jeffree’s dramas, I am very certain he is being mean towards people whom he considers are deserving, like his snakes of so-called friends. As mentioned before, he treated Shane and the squad with a pleasantness one would never expect from an individual of such reputation! Oh, and he also does consumer protection.

At least, that’s what a fellow Youtube commenter told me. He/she said, thanks to Jeffree’s reviews of certain cosmetics brands, he/she and his/her family were staved off from spending a fortune on useless products and they ended up saving lots of money. I don’t know if his/her case is an anomaly or not. But, my God, that was seriously unexpected!

I am certain my description of Jake is almost universally accepted; the ones who defend him are either his own juvenile fans or adults who are so tolerant of transgression, they should never be allowed to have children (but, I cannot force them to not breed because a part of me still loves liberty). In spite of the fame and fortune, he and his brother are popularly seen as the human incarnation of faeces that inexplicably grow its own tumour.

Jeffree, on the other hand, draws very divided public opinions. Some love him, some hate him and some don’t know what to think and feel; it may depend whether you have watched his content or not. But, despite the possible contention, I am confident my relatively-sympathetic description of him will gain some degree of collective acceptance.

And now, we go back to Shane.

If someone asks me who he is, I would answer he is an internet entertainer. Unless he has proven himself, I will never call him a journalist or researcher. None of his videos demonstrate his strong experience in objectivity and systematic analyses… and scientific methods, if I want to go further. I have to exclude Andrew from this as I don’t know the extent of his influence.

Without dismissing Shane’s intelligence (which he clearly has if one has actually watched him), he seems to think the combination of public discourse and personal curiosity is a suitable paradigm for his ‘documentaries’. And, because of that, both series end up as two distinct entities.

I have mixed feelings about this approach. Its results include the pointless Tanacon videos and, of course, the half-intriguing half-problematic Jake Paul ones. But, at the same time, the results also include the Molly Burke, the Grav3yardgirl and, of course, the surprisingly-witty and surprisingly-profound Jeffree Star videos.

Unless one does not care about ethical implications, the Shane Dawson formula should never be used when one enquires into figuratively and literally detrimental phenomena and big names who receive near-universal condemnation. It can, however, be used to enquire into big names who receive a greater degree of admiration as the ethical implications are minimal. My suggestion is, if one cares about journalistic and scientific integrity, one must avoid it at all cost.

(Side note: yes, it is not easy to determine whether one is universally-hated or somewhat lovable; but, just entertain the thought that it is easy to do).

Oh, and I actually made an essay about the potential problems with Shane Dawson. I know some of the things I state here should belong there. But, I published it too soon and since then, I have had more ‘revelations’ about him. Oh well…

Just like with my Jake Paul series review, this one will also use Shane’s picture in the thumbnail. Again, his videos reveal more about him than they do about his subjects.

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What can we learn from the ‘tragedies’ of H3H3 and Bobby Burns?

It is simple: if you are not careful, your words will become your deadly boomerangs. Learn it from this Captain Obvious who is still getting haunted from his words.

While the disgrace of our idols is hard to deal with, why are we even surprised by it? Why do we constantly forget they are human beings just like us, who can commit mistakes and hypocrisy just like us?

Oh, and we also seem to forget both Bobby and Ethan are not just mere Youtubers, they are also Youtube commentators! They make a living out of critiquing anything Youtube-related: Youtube the corporation, Youtube communities and especially fellow Youtubers! Being perceived as the voice of reason and virtue means one is on a high pedestal; therefore, the fall from grace will be significantly harder and more violent.

I believe our disappointment is less about them letting us down and more about us having extremely high expectations of them. Admittedly, to this day, I am still guilty of venerating my own idols. But, even then, there are some occasions when a small voice in my head saying, ‘they are flawed, just like you’; slowly, I learned to take heed of it. Subconsciously, I anticipated the day my heroes become public (or, in this case, Youtube) enemies number one. Their fall from grace, while regrettable, is somewhat foreseeable for me.

I have found some internet comments which condemn Youtube commentators as nothing but mean-spirited and hypocritical hate-mongers who will never stop what they are doing until the entire world is drenched in their negativity. Admittedly, some are indeed guilty of such sin. Some.

Youtube commentators are the Youtube watchdogs. Like it or not, while they don’t have the power to maintain order, they are the ones who put the scorching spotlight to the sins committed in the platform. They are the ones who make sure those sinners, while admittedly often let unpunished, have their dirts unearthed. They are the ones who make sure the truths are ingrained in the collective consciousness.

Yes, virtually everyone, especially Youtube commentators, can end up as Bobby and Ethan. But then, everything in life has risks! For me, the potentially brutal dishonour is worth the intellectual and moral contribution to the shared life we belong to (ostentatious, I know)! Love it or not, constructive criticism can help us move onward!

Even though I am not a popular and respected content creator, I am certain there is not a single advice that can entirely avert this ‘tragedy’ (if you can call it that). ‘Be self-aware!’ seems like a good advice. But, Bobby and Ethan already possessed some level of self-awareness… and yet here they are (even though one can argue they didn’t embrace it strong enough)!

As I am one who constantly resigns himself to the ever-powerful force that is reality, let me repeat a cliche saying: nothing, including the good ones, lasts forever. The fall from grace will always be an inevitable prospect.

…..

Before I conclude this, I need to talk about Bobby specifically.

I used to watch him. I loved his film analysis and Youtube commentary videos and I still do. Just like my fellow fans, I hate how he has changed as a content creator. Well, hate and love.

I wish he was more transparent, more measured and more tactful with his transformation, preventing his fanbase from enduring the ‘shock’. I wish he still make those intelligent cultural dissection.

But, at the same time, I also cannot help myself from admiring him. I believe changes can be beneficial by liberating us from the moulds and he keeps changing despite the backlashes. While tactless changes can destroy one’s career, invariability will surely increases one’s possibility of enduring irrelevance and the mass’s fatigue of one’s creations. So, even if Bobby does refrain himself from revamping his channel, he would experience a decline in his career sooner or later.

I notice some people blame Shane Dawson for this ‘tragedy’. They believe, if the meeting never happened, Bobby would still be a good Youtuber. They believe the fact that Shane hired him to take the Sunday slot compels Bobby to pander to his then-employer’s fanbase. While it sounds like a valid conjecture, I also have mine… which I personally prefer more.

He changes after meeting Shane, a Youtuber he had criticised previously, probably because he realises how the target of his criticism was also a human being. In fact, while collaborating with PsychIRL, he admitted how he felt bad about harshly criticising certain individuals after meeting them in person, realising (again) how they were also human beings.

(Side note: in his H3 podcast appearance, iDubbz also shared the same sentiment as he also met the individuals he criticised in person. In another episode of the podcast, Ethan believed his channel encouraged the growth of mean-spirited commentaries on the website).

While pandering to Shane’s fanbase seems like the probable cause, I personally believe Bobby transforms himself because he no longer wants to be a hypocritical and mean-spirited Youtuber. Yes, I don’t have a solid evidence to support that. But, this assumption of mine is based on the words he actually had said.

Also, even though his content does become far more inferior, at least the new one is not harmful. Pointless and boring, perhaps. But, it is harmless. I mean, at least, he is not like those Youtube sceptics end up as alt-right mouthpieces (and I end up feeling wary of every individual who label themselves as ‘sceptics’).

We should also remember he is still twenty-one years old (almost twenty-two). Already an adult, he is. But, a middle-aged individual can still run into obstacles when pursuing his/her individuality, let alone a college-aged youth. I believe demanding any content creators, regardless of their age, to nail their feet to certain niches is cruel and will needlessly burden their sense of self.

I don’t know what will the future hold for him. He may return to commentaries and film reviews… or he may not. He may retain a long-lasting career… or he may bust it soon. But, I am certain, if his career is sturdier than expected, he will revamp his channel again. At least once more.

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I hate science…

*puts on a mask*

… because it debunks the innate superiority of humans!

I mean, seriously? We would be helpless under nature’s mercy without the help of science? We share the same ancestors with every organism on earth? Earth is not the centre of the universe? We belong to nature, not the other way around? Are you fucking kidding me?

I am religious because I want to feel I belong to the most superiorly divine species in existence! Who cares about spirituality? It is all about the bloating my fragile ego!

Yes, humans are indeed the most dominant earth species. We are the only one that have developed culture, science and technology. We are the only earthlings who have explored the world beyond our planet. But, those are not enough!

We have to believe we are God’s chosen creatures, that everything in the universe revolves around us, that life is conceived solely for our sake!

How can anyone feel dignified by the idea of actually belonging in this earthly realm? How can anyone feel dignified by the idea of being one with nature?

*takes off mask*

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