Commentary: YouTube star Logan Paul faces backlash after controversial video

Laaiba Mahmood, Staff Writer

Former Viner and YouTuber Logan Paul has been feeling heat for a recently posted YouTube video, which has since been removed, that spurred controversy over his actions and intentions while traveling abroad.

The video was posted on New Year’s Day and was entitled, “We Found a Dead Body in the Japanese Suicide Forest.” The title seemed to be clickbait, but in the video, a body was shown hanging from a tree with the face of the person blurred.

Paul’s initial reaction was to joke and laugh at the sight of the body. Sure, in other situations I’d consider humor a coping mechanism, but at the sight of a body hanging from a tree, his first instinct wasn’t to help?

In an apology video posted to his Twitter account, Paul said, “In the work, I share the intent is never to be heartless [or] to be cruel.”

Of course, no one would intend to be rude or insensitive, but with the growing scope of media and the wider audience Paul has, he should have taken into consideration what effect he would have in the YouTube community.

Paul thought he was raising awareness about suicide, but there are better ways to do so. If he had truly been trying to raise awareness and help people, he would have shared suicide hotlines or resources for his followers. His goal by posting the video was not to help, it was to make money by creating click-worthy content.

On Twitter, a YouTube spokesperson said, “We expect more of the creators who build their community on @YouTube, as we’re sure you do too. The channel violated our community guidelines, we acted accordingly, and we are looking at further consequences.”

Although I do applaud YouTube for taking a clear stance on the issue and showing that they will not tolerate such insensitivity on their platform, Paul’s social media following has not decreased. On the contrary, a day after he posted the video, he gained over 80,000 new subscribers.

Despite concrete consequences, he has only been incentivized to make new content in the future as a result of his greater than average subscriber gains.

And this wasn’t the only insensitive thingPaul did during his trip to Japan. As shown in a compilation video that has been spreading across the internet, Paul wore racially insensitive clothing, shoved dead fish into people’s faces, threw a stuffed Pokeball at unsuspecting passersby and in general caused chaos wherever he went.

It’s clear Paul was not conscious of being respectful while visiting a different country, which is just as unacceptable. His complete disregard of sensitivity and social awareness is appalling. Especially with a primarily younger audience, more thought should have been put into the content he was releasing.

Having 16 million subscribers on YouTube, Logan Paul should have considered the impact of his actions. Posting a video depicting a dead body was in no way funny, laughable or humorous— yet that’s exactly how Paul felt when he first saw the body. His first response was not to stop recording and see what he could do to help in the situation.

He shot, edited and posted the video, all without considering whether he should do something to help. He knew exactly what he was doing as he produced the video, which is why his apology seemed forced.

With a lack of professionalism in newly released content and an overall disregard for the effects of his actions, Paul has proven himself to be a wildcard in the YouTube entertainment industry (and I don’t mean that in a good way). Paul should have considered the impact he would be making over what he intended to do, and obviously, that did not happen.

A lot of trust is placed on public figures to create inoffensive and creative content. However, it’s become clear that not everyone is as conscious of the significance of their online presence. Needless to say, I wouldn’t make a habit of glorifying social media influencers—not everyone can be trusted.