I'm sure many of you have heard of the Logan Paul video that surfaced on YouTube on January 1. Paul is a social media blogger who moved from Vine to YouTube when the former shutdown in early 2017. Recently, he and some friends took a trip to Japan, which is where this controversy stems from. While in Japan, they took a trip to the Aokigahara Forest, better known as the Suicide Forest. Instead of staying on the path and traversing the sacred place respectfully, Paul and his crew strayed off the path to find and videotape the body of a person who had committed suicide. They then proceeded to make jokes about the deceased, which were posted in a vlog on YouTube.
This is wildly inappropriate and disrespectful for a number of reasons. The Aokigahara Forest is known for the amount of people that take their own lives within its bounds every year. However, there are paths to cut through the forest while avoiding the bodies, because it is a place of interest for all walks of people and some are made uncomfortable by the dark side of its history. While there is nothing inherently wrong with straying off of this designated path, it is clear from the content of Paul's video that he and his friends stepped away with the intention of finding and filming a body. Doing so is wildly disrespectful to the deceased and their families.
On top of that, to make jokes about suicide is highly inappropriate, especially while saying you're documenting the forest for the sake of suicide awareness. Paul's audience is mainly made up of younger teenagers who still manage to find humor in the ridiculous stunts that he and his brother, Jake, have pulled off since they began on Vine, many of which end up being inappropriate and/or disrespectful. Joking about suicide is not only disrespectful and downright vile, but it also sends the wrong message to his very impressionable audience.
Paul has taken the video down, but that doesn't excuse what he did. Not only did he and his friends purposefully leave the path to find and film a body, but he also had to go through and edit the video before uploading it and sharing it. This is not simply a case of him not realizing what he was doing. He is an adult and needs to be held accountable for his actions.
Unfortunately, YouTube doesn't seem to be doing anything. The site has yet to say anything in response to the controversy, despite many users calling for Paul's videos to be demonetized. This isn't the first time that YouTube has failed to take action. You may remember a controversy several months ago where they began demonetizing LGBTQ+ videos, stating that they don't feel money should be made off such a controversial and sensitive topic, but left ads on videos showing the carnage in Las Vegas, obviously disproving their previous explanation.
There has been a petition circulating that calls upon YouTube to fire Logan Paul by demonetizing his videos and removing his account. That petition can be found here. It is time to hold both YouTube and Logan Paul accountable.