Logan Paul faces backlash for Aokigahara forest clip


Youtuber Logan Paul posted a video of himself apologizing after filming a man’s suicide in the Aokigahara forest in Japan.

The Paul brothers took the internet world by storm last year as a pair of Vine-app born celebrities who simultaneously surrounded themselves with simmering controversy as well as a plethora of dedicated fans. The Pauls were both featured in Forbes’ list of the top-ten highest-paid YouTube stars of 2017, and millions of viewers from across the world flock daily to their videos and vlogs to watch the brothers engage in pranks, stunts and internet challenges.

Yet their exploits have frequently been the topic of dispute. On New Year’s Eve, 22-year-old Logan Paul faced backlash from internet users in wake of his uploading of a video from his travels in Japan.

In the vlog, Paul describes his excursion through Aokigahara forest at the base of Mount Fuji–a location known for its tragic reputation as a frequent site of suicides–where he finds, and shows viewers, the body of a man who had recently hanged himself. In the fifteen-minute clip, which features Paul and his friends joking about the suicide victim, he zooms in on the body–whose face appears blurred out–and can be heard saying “you alive?”

“He has no respect,” Aislinn Coveney (12), who watched the video before Paul removed it from YouTube, said. “He’s 22, and he should be able to realize that this isn’t okay. Even though they didn’t show the face, he was still mocking it. Maybe someone from that family saw it, and that’s not okay in any way possible.”

The video prompted a surge of criticism from social media users and celebrities who denounced Paul for his behavior.

“I just feel disappointed. I used to like him–he had given me no reason not to like him and I was subscribed to him and everything. I just feel stupid because I supported this guy,” Ashna Reddy (10) said. “Most of his fans are young kids, and seeing a dead body–that’s traumatizing.”

Paul issued two apologies–one in a form of a video and the other as a tweet–after deleting the vlog from YouTube upon receiving backlash.

“I didn’t do it for views. I get views. I did it because I thought I could make a positive ripple on the internet, not cause a monsoon of negativity,” Paul wrote in a Twitter post. “I intended to raise awareness for suicide and suicide prevention… it’s easy to get caught up in the moment without fully weighing the possible ramifications.”

Some fans saw merit in Paul’s statement, voicing their support for the vlogger and his videos.

“In the comments for the video, a lot of people are defending him, fans saying that they’ll support him no matter what,” Ashna said.

Others pointed out that it appeared to serve as a self-promotion rather than a sincere apology. In a tweet that garnered over 40,000 views in 24 hours, “Game of Thrones” actress Sophie Turner criticized Paul’s intentions surrounding his statement as well as his deleted vlog post.

“You’re not raising awareness. You’re mocking,” Turner wrote in her post, which has been retweeted over 16,000 times. “I can’t believe how self-praising your ‘apology’ is. You don’t deserve the success you have.”

Turner’s point about Paul’s success reflects a broader view that many internet users possess–that many modern internet phenomena lack true talent and produce meaningless content with minimal value. Just use the YouTube search bar to type in “everything wrong with” followed by the name of a controversial creator or former vine star to find an array of videos criticizing their behavior or work.

“There are a lot of depraved people and people without ethics in the world around us,” Katrina Liu (11), who frequently visits Japan, said. “It’s just now they have a platform to spread their ideas. I hate to think that there are little kids who watched [Paul’s vlog] and they don’t know that that’s wrong, and they start to think that that’s how you should act.”

While Logan Paul’s name has appeared on headlines within the past week, his younger brother, Jake, has also been embroiled in controversy. In Spring of 2017, Disney fired now-20-year-old Jake Paul from his children’s show Bizaardvark due to his disruptive behavior towards his Los Angeles neighbors.

“Most of the people on the internet who are influenced by the [Pauls] are children who grow up watching them,” Aislinn said. “They’re still young, but the thing is, they get so used to listening to and watching that type of stuff that they’re becoming like that.”