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On Saturday, Paul released his first vlog since his February announcement that he would be taking a break from posting videos. In a video called “THE TRUTH ON WHY I LEFT YOUTUBE,” Paul explained he made a visit to Parkland to meet with survivors of the 17 killed in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14.
The resulting 21-minute vlog posted Monday follows Paul as he meets with students, a parent, community officials—and video chats with Sen. Marco Rubio.
The video is a dramatic departure from Paul’s previous vlogs, which include videos like “SMASHING MY LAMBORGHINI WINDSHIELD!!” and “I MADE A DISS TRACK (here’s why).” The change in tone may have partly been inspired by the public controversy fueled by his brother, Logan Paul, who’s still dealing with the consequences of his December video mocking a suicide victim in Japan.
“I think the only thing I can do to help in this situation is go ground floor, talk to a bunch of people that were in the shooting, outside of the shooting—teachers of the school, the Parkland County commissioner—and figure out what needs to be done and give that message to as many people as I possibly can,” Jake Paul says in his newest vlog’s exposition.
Clips from news of the shooting and CNN’s town hall debate are cut between Paul’s discussions with members of the Parkland community, which mostly revolve around recalling the events from the day of the shooting and suggestions for making schools safer.
“Schools shouldn’t be a place where you have to have many guards and cops, but if that’s what it takes to be safe, that’s what it’s gonna have to be,” Parkland student Jonathan Blank told Paul.
Paul also managed to score an interview with Rubio, the Florida Republican who has been slammed in the wake of the shooting for his close ties to the National Rifle Association.
“I think a lot of people think passing laws is super easy,” Paul asks Rubio via a Skype call. “Can you explain some of, like, the struggles around passing laws?”
Rubio responds: “So what I’m trying to do is kind of figure out what are the things we agree on? Let’s do those things first.”
After more than three minutes of Rubio talking about his thoughts on school safety—vaguely, measures to catch potential school shooters before they attack—Paul says his real purpose of the interview is to encourage parents and students, not politicians, to engage in school safety.
“We don’t want to wait for hundreds of people in Washington, D.C. to pass some laws,” Paul says. “There’s so many disagreements.”
Whether he’s fully discounting the power of legislators is unclear. But at the end of his video, Paul reveals that he has donated $25,000 to school safety causes and will participate in the March for Our Lives on March 24 in Washington, D.C.
If he intends to use his massive platform for good instead of chaos, Paul still has a long way to go. But this could be a start.
“If this video, or by you showing this video to one other person, if it saves one life, then we’re successful,” Paul says.
Kris Seavers is the Evening Editor for the Daily Dot, where she covers breaking news, politics, and LGBTQ issues. Her work has appeared in Central Texas publications, including Austin Monthly and San Antonio Magazine, and on NPR.