This is Wait, What?, a column that explains the seemingly incomprehensible.
Just as the sun must rise and set, just as the tides must ebb and flow, so too must YouTube enfant terrible Jake Paul be embroiled in a new controversy. This time, however, the consequences may be more severe than merely getting fired from a Disney Channel show called Bizaardvark: On Wednesday morning, an FBI SWAT team raided his Calabasas mansion and reportedly seized multiple firearms. Let us unpack this—Bizaardvark and all.
[Rubs temples] Who, exactly, is Jake Paul?
Jake Paul is, simply put, a true menace to society. The social media star, once crowned “a reality villain for the YouTube generation” by the New York Times, came to prominence on the now-discontinued app Vine in 2013, before pivoting to YouTube, where he now has over 20 million followers for posting videos with titles like “HOT GIRLFRIEND WAKES UP BY TIGER PRANK!,” and “I DUCT TAPED My Brothers $400,000 Dollar TRUCK!,” and “GIGANTIC GORILLA SCARE PRANK ON MY GIRLFRIEND!! (HILARIOUS!!).” He has also recently released a single, “Fresh Outta London.” Though he is only 23 years old, his past is a treasure trove of dumbassery.
Yes! Tell me about the dumbassery!
Paul’s earliest scandal involved getting fired from the Disney Channel comedy show Bizaardvark, which is about “two teenage girls…who write funny songs and become famous for it,” on which he played a fictional social media star named Dirk Mann who had a show called “Dare Me Bro.” The ax came down after it was reported that he was terrorizing his neighbors—constantly playing pranks and posting his address online, causing fans to swarm the streets—in the Beverly Grove area of Los Angeles, leading them to consider filing a public nuisance lawsuit. (One neighbor described it as “a war zone.”)
Other incidents of note involve posting a vlog about losing his virginity called “I Lost My Virginity,” rapping the n-word, and staging a fake wedding to fellow YouTube personality Tana Mongeau. Paul’s older brother, 25-year-old internet personality Logan Paul, is no stranger to controversy himself: In 2018, he faced massive backlash after posting a now-deleted video of himself discovering a dead body in Japan’s “suicide forest.”
Anything possibly illegal?
In late May, he was caught allegedly entering a Scottsdale, Arizona, mall after it was looted in the midst of Black Lives Matter protests. Per NBC, the Scottsdale police department “received hundreds of tips and videos identifying” Paul participating and charged him with trespassing—along with YouTuber Arman Izadi and friend Andrew Leon—in early June.
After the videos circulated, but before the charges were passed down, Paul released a statement on Twitter saying, “Neither I nor anyone in our group was engaged in any looting or vandalism. For context, we spent the day doing our part to peacefully protest one of the most horrific injustices our country has ever seen.” More on this soon.
Then, in mid-July, evidence leaked of a massive party Paul hosted at his Calabasas mansion, at which people were decidedly not social distancing. The video below provides some texture—and I highly recommend fast-forwarding to 19 seconds in, when we are treated to the confluence of a gaggle of drunk people and heavy-duty construction equipment.
This led Calabasas mayor Alicia Weintraub to denounce Paul publicly and enact further COVID-19 restrictions in the city.