Crixeo: Logan Paul
Logan Paul Apologized, But We All Feed the Machine
Now, now, I know everyone is up in arms over how he started 2018, and I’m certainly not saying his recent video in Japan was tasteful or even artful. But Logan Paul is an artist. And as a society, we need to learn from his experience, especially as more and more bright teens aspire to become famous YouTubers. Of course, disrespecting the dead is offensive; but it is important to note that Paul did not commit murder or rape or worse. He simply exhibited verypoor judgment based on a certain brand of ignorance that online culture has actively encouraged. And that’s what I’d like to discuss here.
First, what did Logan Paul do exactly? He traveled with friends to the Aokigahara forest beneath Japan’s Mount Fuji to go “ghost hunting.” Upon arrival, he and his seemingly vapid, hapless posse came across a man who had recently died by suicide in what is known as the “suicide forest,” which sees 50-200 deaths by suicide each year. Apparently the roots of America’s obsession with Japanese suicide go rather deep, but it seems Paul’s expectations for this visit were quite shallow in nature and his group did not anticipate discovering a corpse.
Instead of discussing why people die by suicide there, which could have been an enlightening endeavor, Logan Paul & Co. joked while trying to displace their discomfort and then, like well-programmed YouTubers, decided to keep the cameras rolling.
As Paul stated in a recent apology for the subsequent video, “The goal with my content is always to entertain, to push the boundaries, to be all-inclusive. And the world I live in, I share almost everything I do. And the intent is never to be heartless, cruel or malicious. Like I said, I’ve made a huge mistake.”
Personally, I believe he wasn’t intending to be hurtful. Based on the footage, it genuinely feels like a 22-year-old and his friends, who live in a very decadent bubble, coming across a dead body for the first time and desperately trying to maintain their particular “status quo.”
Moreover, it feels like someone whose greatest fear is irrelevancy coming across the very real death of someone who might have felt irrelevant too. The giggling and over-the-top performance only further indicate Paul’s immaturity and, ultimately, his inability to properly deal with heavy themes such as life and death. His reaction was woefully innocent while, at the same time, achingly stupid. However, this is hardly surprising given the circumstances.
Back in 2015 Caroline Moss, writing for Business Insider, described similar behavior in her profile of the internet sensation. One memorable activity shared was a four-hour acting workshop where Paul was expected to act out a dramatic scene. The situation: his scene partner just announced she’s pregnant and considering an abortion. Heavy stuff, right? According to Moss, even though Paul was expected to play the scene straight — to be real — he reverted to his broad comedy roots, the very same roots that have garnered over 15 million followers for his YouTube channel and helped him pocket $12.5 million in recent years. Why wouldn’t he revert to his honey pot comfort zone?
Of course, during the same interview, Paul repeatedly shared insights into this financially-reinforced, and at times sophomoric, worldview. He actively rebelled against his “good boy” image by saying: “The comedy you see me doing is like, the clean stuff. But hey, sorry, I do like the dirty stuff as well. I want to be in R-rated movies. It’s time for me to grow up and expand my brand of comedy because the dirty stuff is the fun stuff. That’s the stuff that gets the college people laughing. Some of my Vines, the young girls love them. But college students will watch them and be like, yo, this is dumb.”
In other words, to Logan Paul, obtaining a larger audience, advancing his career and even reaching a certain level of maturity equates to having college students view him as an “adult” with less-than-wholesome material. Then again, with “golden boy” YouTubers like Paul having such influence and sway over teenage consumers (63% of U.S. teenagers in 2015 declared their eagerness to try a product or brand suggested by a preferred YouTuber), it appears that dirty stuff, or even reality, is not in Paul’s best financial interest.