Over any academic break, I build up a queue of topic ideas to avoid any potential writer's block down the road, but every now and then, a news story halts this schedule because I feel the need to write about it.
We are not even one week into 2018 and mental health is still treated as nothing more but a trend.
If you have not already heard, dumpster fire and YouTube "personality" Logan Paul, who began his rise to fame through the Vine app uploaded a video at the start of 2018 titled "We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest..." This place, known as the Aokigahara forest heaves a dark history, hence its nickname as the Suicide Forest, and you would think that Logan Paul, before leaving for his trip, ran some Google searches on the place to educate himself. I gave him too much benefit of the doubt, and honestly, I wish I never ran across this video. I do not follow Logan Paul on any of his social media accounts. The only stories I hear about him are through friends or other YouTubers I watch, so when I read from one Twitter account of Logan Paul's latest video, I verified it through other people, who all expressed their disgust at his over 6 million viewed vlog before he took it down the next day.
I watched what I could bare of the video before it was gone, but several other users have reuploaded his vlog that reached the #2 and #20 spot in YouTube's trending videos, which is a problem of its own and content YouTube should have immediately flagged and deleted. The issue reaches past Logan Paul's actions, which are atrocious, disrespectful, and thoughtless beyond any comprehension. It is clear that Logan Paul's college education is not in the way of his ignorance. Both he and his just as awful younger brother Jake Paul are men made of noise. Logan Paul garners attention, he craves attention, and what better way to achieve this attention then journeying to the deep and dangerously romanticized Aokigahara forest (The Daily Mail described the forest as "hauntingly beautiful"). Western perceptions of the Aokigahara forest are already distorted enough with the whitewashed horror film The Forest featuring Natalie Dormer based on the real thing. Hollywood already fell for this horrorbait, and it is awful to see someone else do the same, someone with a following consisting of mostly young and impressionable adolescents. What other intention would Logan Paul have to visit the forest than to shock, sensationalize, amass an enormous amount of views, and reinforce these kinds of perceptions, especially as the stigma of mental health in the United States begins to slightly be lifted?
I don't care that the video was demonetized. I don't care that the face of the suicide victim was censored. I don't care that he asked for his fans not to defend him. I don't care for Logan Paul's apology. The fact that he decided it was okay to take a camera into the Aokigahara forest, film a dead man, question whether or not he was actually alive, use him as the thumbnail of his video, crack jokes during the fact, and have the audacity to tell his viewers to subscribe if they have not already makes me nauseous. Logan Paul and I are around the same age, but his complete lack of self awareness and maturity convinces me otherwise.
How dare you sensationalize the awful, tragic death of an individual who took his own life for your own viewer count. Did you know, Logan Paul, that local police forces conduct body sweeps in the forest during the holidays to find, remove, and hopefully identify any victims? Can you imagine the kind of emotional and mental sacrifices made by both the victim and law enforcement to enter the Aokigahara Forest knowing nothing good will come out of it? I know my words will never reach you, but I hope my message comes across to those feeling hurt, conflicted, and confused. To those reading this that suffer from any mental illness, I apologize that we still live in a world where your conditions are romanticized and made nothing more than clickbait, especially given the recent suicide of K-pop singer Jonghyun. As we continue into the depths of 2018, I can only hope more good comes out than evil.