Recently YouTuber Logan Paul created disastrous waves in the YouTube community, in Japan and all over the web.
Over his holiday stay in Japan, Paul uploaded vlogs, documenting his visit that were considered by most to be distasteful and immature. These vlogs included scenes of Paul and friends throwing Pokéballs at Japanese citizens and objects, buying and breaking a game and then returning it saying it was “mucho brokeno,” slapping a fish everywhere and leaving it on the back of a taxi and running around the city in traditional Japanese clothing garments which is considered disrespectful of the culture. However, these are not all nor even the worst of his offenses.
On Monday Jan. 1, Paul uploaded a vlog titled, “We found a body in the Japanese Suicide Forest,” which blew up in a horrible way and has since been taken down by Paul. This video documented his time in Aokigahara, a forest near Mt. Fuji that is known by visitors and community members for the number of suicides that happen there.
In the vlog, the group roams the forest and soon finds the body of a man who had seemingly just committed suicide. They then start joking around with Paul saying, “Yo, are you alive? Are you f***ing with us?” and more while showing the corpse, and only blurring the face. Though the video does provide a disclaimer for the content and a segment directing viewers to suicide hotlines, the vlog still had an air of humor to it that felt inappropriate.
Since its upload, Paul’s vlog has been featured on YouTube’s trending page and stayed at the top until he took it down on Tuesday Jan. 2 after major backlash from the majority of YouTubers and the public. Paul first wrote a seemingly defensive apology and later filmed an apology video saying that his actions should not be defended. YouTube also put out an apologetic statement about the issue on Jan. 9 through a series of tweets on Twitter.
U.S.-centered and Japanese YouTuber Reina Scully and Japanese-Australian YouTuber Joey Byzinger tweeted to the extent that Paul should get and stay out of Japan. Scully and Byzinger then uploaded videos addressing their opinions and concerns of Paul as Japanese individuals. Since her upload, Scully has received racist comments from fans of Paul commenting on how she is a “cry baby” and how she is “another one using Logan for views.”
Along with YouTubers, Japanese citizens had a lot to say about Paul’s actions as well.
“I saw Logan Paul’s Aokigahara video, and I think it’s terrible to laugh and make a spectacle out of people who experienced so much mental anguish that they kill themselves,” said Twitter-user @Janis_cats. “I don’t want to ever have anything to do with him.”
Another Twitter-user Rikako tweeted, “This Logan Paul YouTuber is a terrible person. Going to Aokigahara? Is he stupid? He’s got no common sense or manners, and I wish he’d learn there’s a limit to what you should do when trying to make what he thinks is a good video. Actions like his will make people think ‘Are all YouTubers from his country like that?’”
No matter how anyone looks at this issue, there is always going to be fault. As a 22-year-old, Paul should have the mental capacity and competency to realize what he has done in these vlogs is immature and disrespectful, not only to the citizens of Japan but also to the family members of that man and to Western foreigners who have an interest in Japan, specifically Americans. Though many Japanese such as Scully state that Paul’s actions do not tarnish what Japanese people think of Americans, Paul is an ambassador for Americans and western YouTubers by simply visiting other global communities. As an ambassador for his respective nation, he should not have acted the way he did.
The fault also falls on YouTube for not vetting and removing the Aokigahara vlog right when it was uploaded, instead letting Paul profit from it for over 24 hours before he took it down. YouTube has a notorious past when it comes to ad placements, monetization and other factors for creators such as view algorithms. These include placing ads on pro-ISIS videos, demonetizing a news video including violence from a YouTube news channel while not doing the same for a similar video from CNN, and now not removing the vlog. The video clearly breaks YouTube’s guidelines by showing a dead body, yet it wasn’t blocked while educational videos that pertain to the LGBTQ+ community and overall sexuality are still age-restricted. Since Paul has over 15 million subscribers and counting, it is obvious that YouTube has claimed him as a “golden child” that can make their company some major bank. That in and of itself is completely wrong.
What we can do now is denounce content creators that use their fame and ego as a blinder and excuse for not being respectful and mature. Find content creators that spread positive messages and vibes. It is also smart to realize that while, for example, all Americans are not Logan Paul, we should call out other Logan Pauls when they are doing destructive things with their power and influence.
Though Paul is an outlier, we should strive to be our best as ambassadors for our respected nations, even if they are filled with other Logan Pauls.