Culture

When Will YouTube Stars Be Forced to Have Real Emotions?

Former Viners living in houses in LA constructing fake beefs and rap songs may be the nadir of the format.
14 June 2017, 11:16am
Jake Paul. Skärmdump: YouTube

Vine really was a whirlwind. It came, it saw, it decimated the already-loose attention spans of those who watched it, and it left abruptly. It was a strange old concept, inviting people to condense ideas into just six seconds, the ultimate in fat trimming. But it clearly resonated. When the closure of the platform was announced, in memoriam Twitter threads were created, YouTube compilations were uploaded, flashes of greatness were snuffed out early.

Before Vine became completely defunct, its stars began their great migration onto other social media and video sites; Instagram, YouTube, Twitch, etc. The problem here, though, was that many of these stars could only really operate in the format they were accustomed to, i.e. six-second clips. They couldn't stretch it out to anything longer, and when they attempted to the flimsiness of their gags shone through with the strength of a Large Hadron Collider beam.

But just because they suck, doesn't mean they're not successful. There isn't really much rhyme or reason as to why some of these people gather fans, but a lot of it seems to come down to a very basic level of attractiveness. You can't really be a fat, ugly vlogger unless you're funny or weird enough to hold people's attention. Most of these moderately good-looking 20-year-olds seem to be able to gain views just by existing. Sadly, though, they don't just exist; they also create video content. And herein lies the problem.

Jake Paul is the brother of the much more successful Vine star Logan Paul. They look very similar: they're both a little muscly; they both wear those trendy jogging bottoms which are tight around the calves and loose around the thighs. Jake Paul appears to live in a large hillside house in Los Angeles with a group of other millennial boredom factories called Team 10.

Team 10 describe themselves as "a squad of likeminded individuals who teamed up together to take over Hollywood". Ostensibly, they are a modelling and casting agency, but only for themselves – their overblown online personalities serving as CVs for their future acting careers. Every vlog is an audition, and for Jake – who last year was cast in a Disney show – the tactic seems to be working.

At the moment, though, all is not well in the Team 10 household. A rift has appeared. Mind you, it may well be a fake rift, manufactured by a load of fakers, whose whole modus operandi is to fake stuff. Let's consider the details.

Short story: Jake was dating fellow Team 10-er Alissa Violet until recently, but she was "kicked out" of the Team 10 Tracey Island hillside Deathstar following their split. Jake claims she was cheating. Alissa claims he was cheating. It's all pretty bland normie relationship stuff. But another sad rung has been fastened to this depressing ladder of mediocrity: rap songs.

"Everyday Bro" is the rap tune Jake Paul made along with a few other members of Team 10. In it, he mentions his ex-girlfriend texting him at unreasonable hours, and disses MAGCON, a popular social media crew that his older brother Logan once toured with. It goes without saying that the song is very bad; a bunch of rich white kids doing something poorly. But the tune being a musical abomination is not nearly the point: the point is that "Everyday Bro" is one piece of a puzzle which revolves around Paul's supposed break-up, his relationship with his more famous brother and the genesis of a bad new trend in YouTubery.

Logan Paul released a rap song in response to Jake's rap song, which is slightly better as a piece of music, but just as facile in terms of content. The lyrics concern his brother's calamitous relationship with Alissa, the calling out of MAGCON and all the bad PR that accrued, but it in and of itself was also a PR move. The rap video cuts out just as someone who looks very much like Jake's ex Alissa is about to appear on screen – the Eastenders drum-thud moment – and transitions to Logan bleating about his brother in vlog format, telling us there was another verse, but that it was cut for being just too damned real.

Those involved have tried desperately to construct some intrigue around this unreleased verse, but their otherwise easily-impressed fans seem to have cottoned on to the bullshit, with over a million users Disliking the video and thousands commenting on how ludicrous the whole thing is. Logan and Jake have since "made up" at the behest of their "mother", and Logan has insisted the beef was real, saying, "None of this was staged, it was just a very opportune chain of events." Only time will tell as to whether Alissa will return to the Team 10 house in a shock _Made in Chelsea_-esque twist, and you can make your own mind up over the validity of the whole Paul family saga, but I'm personally not convinced.

YouTube fakery is nothing new. What's interesting here, though, is that YouTubers seem to now be delving into constructed-reality narrative arcs – in the vein of The Only Way Is Essex or any of the Real Housewives shows – as opposed to just faking the events of singular videos. After all the music videos are released, the performers sit down solemnly in front of their vlogging cameras. They cry, they express remorse, they look away and insert pregnant pauses. They are displaying range, auditioning. Comedy, tragedy, shit rapping – Team 10 can do it all.

Problem is, online audience tend to be more savvy than your traditional TV viewers; they've been raised on this shit, and they can see right through it.

@joe_bish

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