By: Rayiah Ross
Logan Paul, a social media star with 15,000,000 subscribers on YouTube is now one of the most hated people on the planet. Previously, Jake Paul–Logan’s younger brother–was known as the wild child, but it seems with Logan’s quickly deleted New Year’s Day video, times have changed.
The infamous and beautiful Aokigahara forest, also known as The Suicide Forest located in Japan, is known as the second most popular place for a person to take their life. Since the 1950s, citizens have wandered in and an estimated 500 of them haven’t walked out. According to Atlas Obscura, this has happened at an increasing rate of between 10 and 30 per year and recently these numbers have increased even more, with a record 78 suicides in 2002. In 2003, that record was beaten with a number of 105 bodies discovered.
Japanese spiritualists believe that the suicides committed in the forest have generated paranormal activity and prevented many who enter from escaping the forest’s depths. This tale has manifested itself into things as big as movie productions such as the 2016 movie: The Forest and is visited by many travelers and tourist throughout the years. Logan Paul included.
Paul’s content on Youtube originally consisted of a few videos a week, but was recently changed to a video a day. This quantity of subject matter is hard to make and I completely understand that it is very difficult to create good enough material to keep an audience entertained. I don’t understand how a person, such as Logan Paul, can walk into a infamous suicide forest and film a dead body for views. His attitude toward Aokigahara was similarly callous and dismissive, entering a site where countless people have taken their lives with no seriousness and no respect. Just a few minutes into the video; when Paul and his friends are not even “100 feet away from the parking lot,” they discover a dead corpse of a Japanese man hanging from a tree. A sane person would turn the other way and call the police. A sane person would cut off the camera and make another video. A sane person would have a reaction of horror and not laughter after coming across a dead body.
What bothers me the most about this whole situation is that Paul could have easily made a different video using the same title and the same clips from the trip- minus the dead body, and still get the same amount of views and subscribers as he has now. If posting a video with a close up of a body hanging from a tree is the type of content that today’s society needs to watch, we need to question our own social morals as well as the ones of social media platforms. Paul approached Aokigahara like the set of his own personal Blair Witch Project, where he hoped to to “focus on the haunted aspect of the forest” and potentially film supernatural events. Aokigahara is not a “joke” or tourist attraction for ignorant children to play in; it is a mass grave. And it deserves our respect.
His response to discovering the corpse of a man who felt hopeless enough to commit suicide was pure glee about the viral content it would create. He then made a joke about the situation stating, “What, you never stood next to a dead guy before?” And after which, he not only continued to laugh but also made jokes about drinking while running around the forest being utterly obnoxious and disrespectful to the territory. Let us not forget that Paul has a demographic of mostly 12 to 15 year olds. Of course, seeing a dead body and any age is disturbing, but specifically in a child is worse. Platforms like YouTube assert a set guidelines by which users are expected to behave themselves. It is difficult to enforce these standards, in part because the platforms have few of the traditional mechanism of governance: “They can’t fire content creators as if they were salaried producers. The platforms only have the terms of service and the right to delete content and suspend users. On top of that, economic incentives encourage platforms to be more permissive than they claim to be, and to treat high-value producers differently from the rest,” The Vox states. “Incidents like the exploitative videos of children, or the misleading amateur cartoons, take advantage of this system.”
The day Paul’s video was released, it made number one of the Trending page of Youtube and was one of the highest featured videos. The image of the video being a cropped video of Jake Paul standing next to the man hanging from a tree with his face blurred out. Other Youtubers have reported of their videos being taken down for the words “lesbian” or “naked” in it, yet Paul was able to get away with posting a video titled “We Found A Dead Body In The Japanese Suicide Forest” with a viewing image of a mans deceased body. His young audience has defended him saying things like, “It’s not Logan Paul’s fault that he did that, He did absolutely nothing wrong.” This person’s mindset is exactly the problem. It is Logan Paul’s fault. He knew what he was doing. He filmed the video and laughed during it. He found it entertaining. He took the SD Card out of the camera and watched the video again. He probably laughed a second time. He picked a photo for the video -a photo of a dead man. He titled the video. He posted the video. There is no excuse for what he’s done. “Young people seeing something like that can make them increasingly desensitised to the point where they see things like that purely as entertainment,” Dr Coulson said. He also said it has potential risk factors for young people already thinking about suicide. “Someone mainstreaming that to young people puts it front and center for them and it could be a significant risk factor,” he says.
And just when you thought Logan Paul couldn’t get any worse, he released his apology. No matter what way you break down his apology, you’ll always find a fault. Problem #1: “I didn’t do it for the views, I get views.” Wow, really? Despite the fact that “I get views” is a completely unhumble thing to say, Paul most definitely did it for the views. If he didn’t want the views, why would he post it in the first place? Problem #2: “I intended to raise awareness for suicide and suicide prevention.” Once again is ask, really? This is completely disrespectful to not only the people who have lost someone to suicide, but also to the people who have attempted. I’d rather he stay silent on the situation than claim his video was to raise awareness. Problem #3: “I love everyone. I believe in people. I’m out here. Peace [peace emoji] #Logang4Life.” Who in their right mind thought it was okay for this apology to be published. After tweeting this apology and more sincere video was posted to his Youtube channel.
It took nearly two weeks for YouTube to make a decision, but on Wednesday the platform finally punished Paul. The video has since been taken down and replaced by his terrible apology video, though other offensive clips from the trip have remained up on his vlog. Paul is removed from Google advertisements and his YouTube Red shows have been postponed. And even after all of this I ask, How far is Logan Paul willing to go for views? “This is the most real vlog I’ve ever posted to this channel,” he said with a smile on his face in the beginning of his now-deleted video. “Buckle the f**k up, because you’re never gonna see a video like this again!” And I really hope this part is true.