As It Happens

While Logan Paul faces backlash over dead man video, his army of fans will continue to grow

Vlogger Logan Paul has come under fire for posting a video on YouTube where that appears to show a dead body. But even this shocking episode will likely do little to hurt his growing popularity among millions of young children and teens.
Logan Paul appears in a now-deleted video of him discovering what appears to be a dead body in Japan's Aokigahara Forest. (Logan Paul/YouTube)

Story transcript

Vlogger Logan Paul has come under fire for posting a video on YouTube that appears to show a dead body. But even this shocking episode will likely do little to hurt his growing popularity among millions of young children and teens.

Logan and his brother Jake Paul grew to fame and notoriety for their boisterous personalities on the micro-video site Vine before moving to YouTube, where they enjoy a subscriber base in the tens of millions — many of whom are pre-teen or teenaged girls.

"He is the male version of a Kardashian on YouTube," according to Polygon culture writer Julia Alexander.

"He'll vlog about getting evicted from his apartment because fans keep showing up because he put his address online. He'll blog about his dog dying or getting dental work done. And [with] each video he makes the viewer feel like they are his best friend."

A group of schoolchildren read signs posted in the dense woods of the Aokigahara Forest at the base of Mount Fuji, Japan. The site is famous as a suicide spot. The sign at right reads: 'Your life is a precious gift from your parents. Once again, try to remember your parents, brothers and sisters and think about your children.' (Atsushi Tsukada/Associated Press)

This particular video however, posted over the New Year's weekend, goes far beyond any of his previous stunts.

The video, posted Sunday under the title "We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest," shows him going on a trek with friends in the Aokigahara Forest, near Mount Fuji.

He seems aware that the site is sometimes chosen for suicides, but is surprised to come across what appears to be a body hanging from a tree. Paul and his entourage then film the body up close and make several jokes about it. The body's face has been blurred out in the video.

The video accumulated over 6 million views before it was taken down amidst widespread outrage.

'I've never made a mistake like this before'

Paul posted a statement in response to the backlash on Monday.

"This is a first for me. I've never faced criticism like this before, because I've never made a mistake like this before," he wrote.

The statement was widely criticised for having a self-promotional, rather than apologetic tone.

On Tuesday he followed it up with a video titled "So sorry," where he gives a more earnest apology than in his earlier statement.

"I don't expect to be forgiven, I'm just here to apologize," he said.

"I should have never posted the video. I should have put the cameras down and stopped recording what we were going through. There were a lot of things I should have done differently, but I didn't. For that, from the bottom of my heart, I'm sorry."

While Paul has attracted widespread criticism and condemnation for his latest stunt, Alexander notes that the video will likely do little to turn away his most ardent followers, which he refers to as his "Logang."

"Logan Paul is absolutely fine. He'll only continue to grow" in popularity, she said.

Many fans have defended Paul's video in YouTube and Twitter comment threads. Some have even praised him for supposedly raising awareness about the dangers of suicide.

"The reactions from his fans are very tearful, emotional, like: 'Thank God Logan is bringing attention to depression,'" said Alexander. "They don't realize how sensationalized and how insensitive he is by portraying the body of a man who looks like he has recently committed suicide."

YouTube responds, unclear if Paul will be penalized

"Our hearts go out to the family of the person featured in the video. YouTube prohibits violent or gory content posted in a shocking, sensational or disrespectful manner," YouTube said in a statement.

"If a video is graphic, it can only remain on the site when supported by appropriate educational or documentary information and in some cases it will be age-gated." 

YouTube hasn't indicated if it will hand Paul's account a strike for breaking these rules yet. Creators on YouTube can incur strikes for posting graphic content or using copyrighted material without permission. Three strikes will result in a channel being removed entirely from the platform.

"YouTube, at the end of the day doesn't care. YouTube has had so many problematic creators that have been called out by the Wall Street Journal or by CBC ... and they just haven't done anything," Alexander explained. "At the end of the day, the problematic creators are the ones generating income and revenue for the company."

With files from the Associated Press.