Jessilyn Dagum, Staff Writer
YouTuber Logan Paul has created an uproar of controversy after posting video of what appeared to be a dead body hanging from a tree in Japan’s Aokigaha forest, also known as Suicide Forest. Paul, 22, is one of the largest YouTube stars on the Internet with over 15 million subscribers and is valued at 11.5 million dollars–or so he was. Since his initial post on Dec. 31, 2017, Paul has been dropped from YouTube’s top advertising ranks, which guarantees content creators on the video-sharing platform reliable revenue from some of its premium advertisers, the Rolling Stone reports. The online star has also been dropped from several of YouTube’s other projects, including a sequel to the 2016 YouTube Red movie “The Thinning.”
Aside from filming someone’s deceased body, many are upset by Paul’s initial reaction to its discovery. The YouTuber can be seen laughing and making crude remarks upon finding it in the Japanese forest. In the video that sparked such outrage across the Internet, Paul pans over the body while blurring out the face, describes the body’s condition, and speculates the time of death as he giggles out of what some argue is shock and others say is sheer disrespect. The New York Times writes, “Mr. Paul, who has television experience and has trained with comedy troupes, begins to engage in the kinds of behavior most familiar to his viewers: exaggerated reaction shots and nervous laughter.” Toward the end of the video, Paul discloses that his smiling and laughing “is not a portrayal of how I feel about the circumstances,” and argues that it is his coping mechanism. His choice to share the footage as well as his reaction is still very questionable to many.
Since then Paul has received major backlash for his actions including other YouTubers speaking out against his channel and viewers sharing the suicide hotline along with their own stories about struggles with mental illness. One particular YouTuber took Paul’s actions, as an opportunity to remind to the world of travel customs and respecting others’ countries. Japanese YouTuber, Yuta Aoki, argues that Paul’s visit to Japan was more problematic than what meets the eye. Looking at Paul’s other footage of his trip to Japan, Aoki expresses his distress upon seeing Paul and his colleagues act buffoonish in one of Japan’s religious temples eventually leading to them being kicked out. Aoki questions why anyone would act such a way in a religious place in any country and asks that travelers try to be more mindful as guests in the places they visit.
In the week following Paul’s original post, he apologized to his viewers in a series of tweets on Twitter and then in a YouTube video. “I should have never posted the video. I should have put the cameras down,” he said.
More recently, in an open letter of apology from the video-sharing platform, it condemns Paul’s actions and acknowledges its own lack of communication on the matter in a statement it tweeted from its main account: “Suicide is not a joke, nor should it ever be a driving force for views. As Anna Akana put it perfectly: ‘That body was a person someone loved. You do not walk into a suicide forest with a camera and claim mental health awareness.’ We expect more of the creators who build their community on @YouTube, as we’re sure you do too. The channel violated out community guidelines, we acted accordingly, and we are looking at further consequences.”