OPINION: It’s Time To Stop, Logan Paul

On Dec. 31, 2017, Logan Paul, a Viner-turned-YouTuber with over 15 million subscribers, uploaded a video of himself and a few friends exploring Japan’s Aokigahara Forest. These woods on the northern side of Mount Fuji are also known as the “suicide forest”, a location where many go, as the name unfortunately suggests, to end their own lives. And in Japan, a country with one of the highest suicide rates in the world, these woods are all the more significant and culturally recognized by the residents of the island nation. This fact, combined with the general seriousness and caution that should surround the topic of suicide, makes what Logan Paul did inexcusable.

Logan Paul’s expedition into the forest turned out to be more than a simple trek; somewhere along the way, Paul and his cronies discovered the unmarked body of an actual suicide victim and decided to display the uncensored corpse on camera for all the world to see. This was not a live stream either — this was an actual, edited video that Logan Paul uploaded to his channel. That means that even after the process of editing took place, even after Paul and likely his friends watched the video themselves, the shot of the deceased man was still included in the final cut. They thought it was a perfectly fine idea to include this disturbing, disrespectful, and graphic image in a video on a YouTube channel with over 15 million subscribers, many of them being underaged children.

On January 1, 2018, a day after the video was uploaded, Logan Paul had the good sense — although there was not much of this in the whole ordeal — to remove the video, though not before it had garnered over 6 million views. Following the removal of the video, Paul uploaded an apology letter to Twitter and a similar video on his YouTube channel. In both of these forms of apology, Paul repeatedly states that he most certainly made a mistake and should never have uploaded the video at all in the first place.

Paul’s purpose, he claims, for the video was to “raise suicide awareness.” He claims that he “didn’t do it for the views” because he “already gets views,” and that he sought to create a “ripple of positivity” rather than a “monsoon of negativity.”

This disingenuous justification is not good enough. Especially not when he ended his apology letter with a flippant “#Logang4Life.” Logan Paul never meant to raise suicide awareness; no person in their right mind, especially someone with many other people surrounding him at all times, would ever think that this is a proper and effective way to boost awareness for an issue as devastating and serious as suicide. Logan Paul’s purpose for this video was astoundingly simple: shock value.

This is not the only incident of Logan Paul craving attention from shocking spectacles. For example, in a video just days prior, Logan Paul was filmed wandering around the Japanese city of Tokyo doing all sorts of foolish and blatantly culturally insensitive things for his bombastic charade. He threw Pokemon balls at strangers; he bought fish and an octopus tentacle from Tsukiji fish market, waved them around stupidly, and proceeded to leave the raw octopus on a taxi; he dressed up in traditional Japanese garb and acted mindless; and he even told a Japanese electronics clerk that a device was “much-o broken-o”.

Japan is not the first place where Logan Paul has made a mockery of local culture, either. On his trip to Venice, Italy, Logan and his brother Jake, who is another story altogether, both jumped into the Venice Canal, one of Italy’s most important and culturally significant landmarks. The brothers succeeded here in both making fools of themselves and disregarding local customs, and now Logan carries on this shameful legacy in his current antics.

Furthermore, Logan admits in his apology letter that “with great power comes great responsibility,” of which he self-admittedly has both, and goes on to say that this incident was “the first time” he handled that power incorrectly. His previous incidents of idiocy and disrespect prove otherwise.

Despite the overwhelming backlash from his recent stunt in Aokigahara Forest — which has spawned statements on Twitter from celebrities such as Aaron Paul, unrelated to Logan, and Sophie Turner — Logan Paul continues to steadily gain subscribers on his YouTube channel, drawing new people in likely because of the conflict surrounding his recent content. With more and more subscribers and money flowing in, and with his die-hard fans fanatically defending his mistake, Logan Paul has decided to lay low for awhile and wait for the controversy surrounding this issue to die down.

After a week of silence following the incident, YouTube finally responded to the public outrage surrounding the issue in a short Twitter statement, claiming that they plan to take steps to make sure that a video such as Logan Paul’s “is never circulated again.” A couple of the ways YouTube seems to be doing this are by revoking future YouTube Red (YouTube’s paid content) productions and by stripping Paul of his premium partnership privileges — the ability that allows him to earn ad revenue from Google partnership companies. The fate of Logan Paul’s YouTube channel, however, remains unknown as of the writing of this article, though a petition on the website Change.org with over 450,000 signatures demanding that Paul’s channel be deleted has taken the Internet by storm.

In the wake of this shocking and terrible video, Logan Paul is being reprimanded severely from all sides — and for good reason. Nothing like what this YouTube star did should ever happen again, and hopefully, considering the general upset surrounding this issue, those like Paul can learn from the celebrity’s mistake and change their ways before it is too late.