By Tyler Bizarro
Famous YouTuber and former Vine star Logan Paul made national headlines recently after posting a video exposing an unknown suicide victim in a Japanese forest.
The video has been removed from Paul’s channel, but not before reaching YouTube’s trending page and amassing more then 6 million views.
In the video, Logan Paul emphasized that the ‘documentary’ was meant to explore a supernatural side of ‘the suicide forest’ in Japan. But instead of combing the woods for ghosts and werewolves with his gang of 15 million pre-teens, Paul and his film crew discovered a man hanging from a tree soon after entering the forest. And he chose to vlog the entire thing. Selfie-style.
In the moment, Paul even went as far as to speak towards the camera about mental health awareness and suicide prevention- with the corpse of the man in the background of the shot. The group then recorded their reactions from outside the forest as police arrived, before they edited the footage and video thumbnail (showing the man hanging) to post for millions of people’s entertainment.
While this is a national story, maybe your kids are part of the 15 million that make up the ‘Logang’. So there are a couple parts that I think we here in New Bedford can take value from.
This is a man who profits off of children watching his internet videos. While some channels provide safe and educational content for kids, or even entertaining and pop-culture videos for pre-teens, YouTube has struggled with a growing number of large channels targeting and manipulating children for financial gain. The twisted reality is that anybody in the world can start making videos for your kids or someone else’s and get filthy rich while doing it.
So next time you go to give a child your phone to surf YouTube on, remember that the internet is like no other resource in the world. It is a giant black hole of information, and is overwhelming to even those who have navigated it their entire lives. It is a doubled edged sword for all who use it. And whether you have kids or not, we are all affected by how younger generations of Americans are being influenced by people like Logan Paul. While it may be easier for most of us to overlook nonsense and denounce immoral behavior, the same can’t be said for many younger people. Especially on the internet. The very fact that 15 million people have subscribed to be apart of the ‘Logang’ would suggest there’s a serious lack of accountability for what kids watch online.
The second point is that incidences like these are bound to keep happening unless platforms and revenue streams are taken away from these people. After controversy breaks for an internet star, there is usually a hit that person will take in terms of channel growth rate and short term income. But without being held accountable by YouTube or the people subscribed (in this case; children) , these people are free to keep creating and monetizing videos. And so, this isn’t the first time a Paul brother has made national headlines, and it won’t be the last.
Logan’s brother Jake (who has 12 million followers on YouTube) made headlines after a video with KTLA in California went viral. In that video Jake Paul was asked to address neighbors who were angry with the YouTuber for continually filming dangerous stunts (like burning furniture in an empty pool) throughout the neighborhood and having his subscribers (and their parents) fill the streets.
A remorseless Jake Paul responded by physically dabbing in the reporter’s face and climbing on top of the news van, chanting the name of his fan club; Team 10. Jake Paul was set to continue filming with Disney for the show ‘Bizaardvark,’ but the two entities mutually agreed to part ways shortly after this news broke. Paul has since been sued by residents of Los Angeles and has moved into a 7 million dollar mansion just outside of LA. He’s even made headlines for revealing the private home of singer Post Malone after acquiring his address through a merchandise company and showing up with cameras unannounced.
These incidents happened just months before this recent incident with Logan, but both brothers have gained millions of followers in the meantime. At a point, a social media influencer becomes so popular as an individual entity that they are almost immune to bad press. If nothing changes and these influencers keep making money creating inappropriate content, millions more will follow in the coming months and years as more children will grow up to be ignorant, self absorbed, reckless Jake Paulers and Logangers all on their own.
So one way or another, this will be our problem.