Logan Paul must continue efforts after controversial video


Logan Paul must continue efforts after controversial video

By Ariana Portalatin

After the backlash Logan Paul received earlier this month for posting a video with footage of a dead body in Japan’s Aokigahara forest, the YouTube star came back from his internet break with a Jan. 24 suicide prevention video. In the video, he describes himself as someone who has learned from his mistakes and is prepared to make a difference. While Paul’s efforts may be genuine, it will take a lot more to prove he has really changed and learned from his mistakes.

Paul’s Dec. 31 video brought a wave of criticism for both himself and YouTube. Although Paul stated the video was meant to raise awareness of suicide, it was tasteless and had the opposite effect. Many were angry with Paul for his recorded reaction in the video—laughing, joking and recording the body with his friends—and for YouTube’s slow response in punishing the star.

According to a Jan. 10 Variety article, the video received six million views before finally being removed from Paul’s channel. Paul apologized both in a second YouTube video and on Twitter.

After 11 days, YouTube eventually responded, removing Paul’s channels from Google Preferred—a program that allows advertisers to pay for ad placements in videos—and all future projects with Paul were halted. However, the damage had been done.

Paul is known for his high energy and outlandish content, including many pranks and stunts, but this video went too far and was insensitive to many who have been affected by suicide. His apology afterward was also criticized for coming off as self-centered and ingenuine, a publicity stunt to quickly save his reputation instead of truly coming to terms with his mistakes.

The Jan. 24 video had a much different tone and Paul announced at its end that he would be donating $1 million to suicide prevention organizations.

The most recent video sends a more positive message, and it’s great Paul is donating to good causes, but his actions could be nothing more than another publicity stunt that will eventually be forgotten and Paul will revert back to his old ways.

It’s imperative that Paul does truly learn from his mistakes because his fanbase is heavily made up of young individuals, a group that is unfortunately largely affected by suicide. Paul should be aware of this, especially considering he posted statistics in the Jan. 24 video that proved that suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people and one in six American high schoolers think seriously about suicide.

According to a May 5, 2017, CNN article, research presented at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting showed suicide rates among younger children and teens nearly doubled between 2008 and 2015, which could be attributed to an increase in social media and internet use. For this alone, Paul must realize the amount of power he holds as an internet influencer with a young fanbase and the message he sends with each video and social media post.

To be fair, Paul did state he was aware of his platform and responsibility in his Jan. 1 Twitter apology, saying, “I’m often reminded of how big of a reach I truly have and with great power comes great responsibility. For the first time in my life, I’m regretful to say I handled that power incorrectly. It won’t happen again.”

It will take much more than a seven-minute video for Paul to make a difference and make up for his mistakes. Paul may be genuine, but the true test will be seen with Paul’s future content.