YouTube celebrity Logan Paul put out a disturbing video over the weekend in which he filmed himself with a corpse in Japan’s infamous “suicide forest.” The clip outraged a large swath of the internet, who deemed it insensitive, and the 22-year-old later pulled the video and tweeted out an apology.
In his apology, the young star claimed that he “didn’t do it for views” and that he “intended to raise awareness for suicide and suicide prevention.” The suicide victim appears to have hung himself only a few hours before Paul found him. Paul teased the video pretty heavily, blasting out a tweet promising “the craziest and most real video [he’s] ever uploaded.” Even in the beginning of the video, he declared, “This is not clickbait. This is the most real vlog I’ve ever posted to this channel. I think this definitely marks a moment in YouTube history, because I’m pretty sure this has never happened to anyone on YouTube ever.”
Unsurprisingly, a lot of people had a tough time buying the video star’s apology, and there were more than a few people calling on YouTube to ban their golden boy.
However, Paul’s loyal supporters were mostly unfazed by their hero’s misstep. Many of them even seemed to agree that Paul was just trying to raise awareness of suicide — but their support led to a lot of ridicule.
Of course, Paul isn’t the first videographer to explore the suicide forest (its actual name is Aokigahara). A few years ago, Vice sent a camera team in with a local guide, and that video introduced a lot of the world to the unsettling atmosphere. But Vice’s mini-documentary took a serious and eye-opening approach to the forest, while Paul’s video featured him dashing around in a green hat with one of his friends dressed in a green bodysuit.
While his audience consists mostly of teens, Paul has broken into the mainstream with appearances on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” And, though it seems he’s safe thus far from a YouTube scourge, the company has punished its stars before when they’ve stepped out of line. Last year, a gamer and vlogger with millions of followers who uses the moniker PewDiePie was harshly punished for his joking use of antisemitism and Nazi references in his videos.