Logan Paul got famous off of the six-second video app called Vine. There, he gained an audience off of skits that utilized his outrageous personality. Like most popular Viners, when the app died he transitioned on to YouTube where he posted vlogs multiple times a week, each one raking in 4 to 11 million views from his whopping 16 million subscribers. He was one of YouTube’s biggest stars in 2017, with (analytics) earning him 12.5 million dollars in 2017. Paul was featured in 2017’s YouTube Rewind verifying that he was one of the main faces of YouTube. He was expected to continue his climb to the top in 2018.
That was until in early January when Paul posted one of his travel vlogs while he was in Japan. While many have agreed that all of Paul’s Japan vlogs were completely culturally insensitive and offensive, this particular vlog thrusted Paul into the global spotlight for his decisions to include footage of a suicide victim. While he did blur the victim who was found hanging, he was laughing about it with his friends and overall wasn’t sensitive about the subject. Paul and his friends went to the Aokigahara forest which has been nicknamed the “Suicide Forest” due to the dismal and large number of people who commit suicide there.
Courtesy: Logan Paul
According to Paul, he went to the forest to record something entertaining for his vlog, but many have pointed out that Paul entered the forest knowing its reputation and what he may – and did – find. Paul also was under attack for not immediately turning off the camera and getting help for this situation. Many felt that Paul was trying to churn a profit by including a suicide victim for shock value. Paul originally tried to claim that he included the clip to raise awareness for suicide prevention, but after all the hate he took down the video. Before the video was taken down it already had 6 million views.
After taking down the controversial video, Paul posted an apology video and encouraged his fans to not defend him. “I’ve made a huge mistake, I don’t expect to be forgiven. I am just here to apologize,” Paul says in his “So, Sorry” video. He took a social media break until January 24th when he posted another video titled “Suicide: Be Here, Tomorrow”. This video was very different from his normal content; he had gotten a haircut that made him look mature, somber music played in the background, the camera was in someone else’s hand instead of his, and the usual jokester obnoxious Logan Paul persona was replaced by a more calmer and quiet version. The video featured clips of Paul interviewing people familiar with suicide and ended with him not only seems to be more educated on the topic of suicide, but also with him pledging to donate one million dollars to various suicide prevention foundations.
On Friday Paul appeared on Good Morning America to talk about this ordeal and even spoke about being dropped from Google Preferred, which is an ad brand service provider for top YouTube accounts. Paul says while he doesn’t necessarily agree with the decision he respects it and understands it. It is worth noting that during this interview Paul seems the most distraught while talking about Google preferred. Paul seems to be taking responsibility for his actions and does seem to really want to get educated about suicide, but is it little too late? Many YouTube viewers are having issues deciding on whether or not Paul is actually sincerely apologetic.
As someone who is constantly on YouTube, I do think that Logan Paul will continue to be a big YouTuber, but he may not reach his success at the same speed as last time. While he did take down the suicide vlog, Paul did leave up all his other cultural insensitive vlogs. I think in the future Paul won’t have the freedom to make ignorant videos like that again without the Internet giving him the boot. Moreover, Logan Paul’s name to me and many other people will always be linked to suicide. The question now is, will he be forever known as the guy who made a disgusting video using a victim of suicide as a prop, or will he be known as the guy who made a mistake but has learned from them and now uses his platform to put out meaningful content?
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, 24 hours a day 7 days a week: 1-800-273-8255.