Earlier this week, a report by Los Angeles television station KTLA about social media star and “influencer” Jake Paul terrorizing his poor neighbors in West LA with his insufferably obnoxious antics went viral. (If you haven’t seen the video yet, I highly recommend it, especially if you feel like strongly disliking somebody.)
For Paul, going viral is business as usual — the 20-year-old Cleveland native has 8.6 million followers on Youtube, 8.5 million followers on Instagram, and 1.76 million followers on Twitter. It’s estimated that his videos have accumulated 1.3 billion views, ushering him into the mainstream entertainment industry in 2016 via a supporting role on Disney’s Bizaardvark.
Unsurprisingly, Paul’s reach (which has started to eclipse that of his older brother and fellow influencer, Logan) has garnered a huge payday from brands and venture capitalists, which Paul has used to set up Team 10, a self-described “incubator” for up-and-coming social-media personalities.
“I want to be the Dr. Dre of social media,” Paul told People last year. “I want to take my success and replicate it with other artists.”
Because I am extremely old, I had no clue who Jake Paul was until the KTLA story. There was a time, long ago, when seeing a hyperactive kid terrorize adults might’ve caused me to sympathize with the kid, who’s merely trying to enjoy being young, dumb, and responsibility-free. Like Ferris Bueller with better abs! But, again, because I’m a decrepit codger, I immediately sided with his neighbors, who just want to walk down their own street without being accosted by hopped-up jocks who didn’t take their ADD medicine this morning.
My initial impression of Paul was that he was like a cross between Zack Morris, Jay Mohr’s character in Jerry Maguire, and Johnny from The Karate Kid. All of these pop culture references pre-date Paul’s birth in 1997, by the way. My god, this kid was born the same week that the first Daft Punk album was released! Why do I feel so cold all of a sudden? Is the Grim Reaper standing behind me?
It’s always disorienting to suddenly discover something that managed to become extremely popular without you ever noticing it. With Jake Paul, the KTLA story send me down an internet rabbit hole.