Jake Paul and India Knight: Two faces of modern media's ugly decadence

Marie Antoinette was nothing compared to Jake Paul. But newspaper columnists are far worse.

When historians, perhaps scrawling their texts with charcoal from the burned-out ruins of what was once the ‘civilised’ world on the broken walls of one of its great cities, come to write the story of the humanity’s downfall, they might mention Jake Paul. One of the Paul brothers — alongside his marginally more-savvy older brother Logan — Jake Paul is a multi-millionaire on the back of being willing to be unpleasant on camera for money. There is no stunt that Jake Paul would not do and, following one stunt during the Black Lives Matter protests, is now the subject of a federal investigation which saw his mansion raided by the FBI.

The video below is not the worst example of Jake Paul’s antics, but it is instructive. In it, Paul, surrounded by all the trappings of his grotesque wealth, smashes in the window of an associate’s Tesla after that young man wallpapers his room with pictures of his identikit blonde ex-girlfriends. The whole thing in ‘banter’ and done for sport, but the pure visual is elite decadence in its purest, uncut form. An idle rich man, whose work is chaotic living, smashes up a car that for many is nothing but a dream. And he laughs the clanging empty laugh of the sociopath throughout.

Some of the best deconstructions of Paulism — pursuing a life driven entirely by narcissism and the ultra-crass pursuit of material wealth — come, ironically, from another egotistical YouTuber, the Pauls’ nemesis KSI, a British star who is gaining some success as a rapper and who defeated Logan Paul in the second of their highly-publicised boxing bouts (the first was declared a draw — obviously to ensure interest in the second contest).

The key moment in the long video above comes at 3.36 in, where KSI rages at Jake Paul because the younger of the Pernicious Paul Brothers, decided to hold a huge party during the pandemic, a party organised entirely so he had footage for his music video. Many influencers, particularly those who live in YouTube and TikTok ‘hype houses’ (mansions rented purely for the purpose of filming ‘content’) have flouted lockdown laws and held large parties during the pandemic; Jake Paul is merely one of the most longstanding and prominent.

Jake Paul is 23 years old. Logan Paul is 25. The pair have been famous for years at this point with tens of millions of daily viewers and fanbases that stick with them through every controversy. Merchandise sales in the millions are what have powered these young men to lives of easy wealth and destructive behaviour.

And yet… the Pauls are still not as bad as the average newspaper columnist. They are self-made men, even if what they have made is relentlessly destructive. Emerging from Ohio, children of divorce, Logan Paul and Jake Paul first came to fame making videos on the late lamented Vine short video app, before leaping to YouTube then movies and TV and back to YouTube where they have found the control available to them is more appealing than the constraints of a devil’s deal with Disney.

Contrast that with British newspapers columnists, many of whom are the children of previously successful journalists/writers/politicians or related to other powerful people. As I was writing this newsletter, the story of India Knight — whose step-father has been on the board of News Group Newspapers, which publishes the Times and Sunday Times where she has been a columnist for decades, for years and years — and her sex offender partner (and former MP) Eric Joyce has finally bubbled to the surface thanks to a brutal column from Julie Burchill. Sadly Burchill chose Spiked as the place to make her case but beyond reviving her ages-old feud with Knight she is correct:

Over the past few months, I’ve been astonished by how little attention the case of ex-Labour MP Eric Joyce – a man with a track record of drunken violence, given a suspended sentence last week after pleading guilty to watching the very worst category of child pornography – has garnered from the British press. Surely the politician who also watches child porn combines the top-two hate groups of any decent hack?

Joyce did have two previous convictions for violent offences before he appeared in court pleading guilty to possessing a Category A image of child sexual abuse. Category A is the worst category of image, depicting the most horrific acts against children. Reports on the case — from newspapers that don’t publish India Knight — explain in graphic deal what the specific video Joyce downloaded was and what search terms he used to find material where babies and very young children were abused. This man should not have received a suspended sentence.

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But, because he is part of the decadent media establishment, provided a shield by his partner’s columnist connections, Eric Joyce will not go to jail and was given a softer sentence because the love of India Knight and his claims that alcohol made him do it were taken into account during mitigation:

And India Knight’s latest column? A banal little thing decrying people who choose to use artificial grass in their gardens. I’d be less worried about plastic plants and more about the paedophile in my home if I were India Knight.

But then, I live in a world of harsh realities and consequences and not the gilded existence enjoyed by the grand dame, who will be allowed to continue on at The Sunday Times because she musn’’t be blamed for her man’s monstrousness, even as she has continued to defend him in public and private.

India Knight has often cast the first stone yet she imagines her glasshouse will stay pristine forever. The trouble is we can all see through those transparent walls now and witness her providing cover for a violent drunk who sat in that home and searched for the vile sexual abuse of children.

Let India Knight never have a single inch of newsprint to moralise from again. The flush is busted. The truth is out. The lies of India Knight should fade like invisible ink. But they won’t, because our media is crumbling like a rotten tooth.

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