Logan Paul's Career Isn't Over -- It's Going To Get Even Bigger 

2017's "YouTube Rewind," the end-of-year advertisement for the biggest trends and hottest creators on the platform, urges people to come together after an awful year. This heartfelt sentiment lasts about thirty seconds before the camera plunges back down to earth, where a rooftop party rages. Here, two blonde men look out at the horizon, squad in tow. They are the golden boys of YouTube, the hottest entertainers on the platform. Logan and Jake Paul.

YouTube is enormous enough that entire subcultures may never come into contact with one another, but the Paul brothers are different. They have blown up so much that other creators find excuses to write 'Logan Paul' or 'Jake Paul' into their video titles, hoping to pinch off some views from ardent fans. Appropriately, in the YouTube Rewind skit, creators surrounding the Paul brothers are in the middle of a paint ball fight that accidentally nicks Logan Paul in the face. At that moment, the entire party stops. They want to know what happens next. The joke, of course, is that Logan Paul thinks his brother is the culprit. Now in a fighting mood, the two men look ready to knock each other out. Their audience watches raptly, shocked faces in the background. Logan and Jake Paul then look directly at the camera and smile as if to say, 'gotcha!' They were never going to fight. They just wanted you to watch.

It's that ethos that drove Logan Paul's recent incursion into Japan's "suicide forest," and although mainstream media outlets have spent the past two days berating him for seemingly making light of a suicide victim, I've come away from this with one conclusion: It's just going to make him even more popular.

It's hard not to be cynical about the "suicide forest" incident. The entire thing is in bad taste: Paul finds a dead body, only to start joking around. Worse, he acts as if zooming into the body is some kind of landmark event for the entirety of YouTube. Even the way he walks into this somber place, as if he's about pop a keg in a frat party, comes off horribly. Since then, other popular YouTubers and the mainstream media have condemned Logan Paul's actions, and he took the video down. Folks are now discussing the state of YouTube, YouTube stars, and Japan's troubles with mental illness. Seemingly everyone is disgusted. But the only thing I can think of is this: given the Paul brother's reputation for stretching the truth and staging videos, was that body even real?

I don't know. If it is, it still feels like I've fallen into a trap. The Paul brothers' ascent on YouTube was tinged with notoriety from the get-go, when they started out uploading videos filled with terrible raps against one another. YouTubers would react to these videos and cringe, but it didn't matter. Everything increased the Paul brothers' viewership counts by the millions. While the Paul brothers got big by hyping up their adventurous lives, the gossip and mainstream media coverage painted a different picture of faked relationships, questionable assaults, staged beefs, and general obnoxiousness. And yet, no matter how gross any of this gets, Logan Paul still seems to benefit from all of it. Everyone, from the New York Times to perhaps your own mother is talking about him right now.

According to Social Blade, Logan Paul has gained over 100,000 subscribers since the Aokigahara video, all while devoted fans continue to rally support for him. On YouTube, the beast is never killed, only fed. Pewdiepie might have spent the last year mired in controversy, but his channel is still growing, and he says his fandom has a better sense of community now. Elsewhere, thousands of people are still watching the family that temporarily lost child custody due to abuse. For all the discussion around how YouTube needs to improve its moderation, it seems clear that some of the larger public wants to support their favourite YouTuber no matter what.

Our newest generation of celebrity has become an expert in keeping our attention, no matter what it takes to get it. With the help of algorithms, some creators have practically drilled that down to a science. YouTubers know exactly how long a video needs to be to get better placement on the platform, they know to make surprised and disgusted faces on thumbnails, and they write vague titles in all caps, often promising a tantalising story or antic. Videos with "I almost died" in the title have millions of views, and fittingly, typing those words into the YouTube search bar leads to this autocomplete:

Often, these videos are lies or exaggerations, but by the time you've figured that out, it doesn't matter. YouTube logged that you watched it. It will autoplay something similar for you right after the current video is over, and if you're unlucky, it will continue to recommend similar garbage to you from there on out. We can't help but look at car crashes, and platforms like YouTube reward that voyeurism by encouraging even more of it.

In the case of the Logan brothers, spectacle is always the directive. As Vox explains, the two brothers became famous doing stunts and pranks that crossed the line, and after the two moved on to YouTube, the line only continued to shift. But after the threat of losing your own life has lost its shock value, what — or who — is left?


Comments

    Brave of YouTube to take a stance on rubbish like the video and reply this piece of shit posted. Sure, everyone talking about him after isn't going to help and only publicize his rubbish even more, but hopefully it points out what a complete wanker this guy and many like him are.

    Hopefully it also points out to parents how stupid some of their kids are as they try to blindly defend his actions as so many have.

    Like sands through the hourglass...

      YouTube never took a stand, it made it to trending after it’d most definitely been flagged a whole bunch, was never monetised to begin with and in the end was removed by Logan Paul nearly a full two days later.

      YouTube is asleep at the wheel best case scenario or wilfully ignorant at the worst.

    This article is pretty apologetic towards Paul and his actions.

    The "it's just a prank bro" style of thinking and excuses for bad behaviour is what got someone killed last week via a Swatting "prank"

    Holy shit I was exposed to the Paul brothers the other week when hanging out with my friends 10 year old. It befuddled me to say the least. Just what the fuck is going on with the Internet.

      Never mind the internet, what the fuck is going on with PEOPLE that the kind of vapid, asinine bullshit that infests YouTube is actually considered entertainment worthy of people's limited time?

        I like to think it's only young kids...but even then there r so many good cartoons or shows they could be watching instead. It freaks me out.

          I saw my 7 year old niece on Xmas day. She was playing with a doll which I assumed to be a Barbie or something of that ilk. Nope - it was actually a YouTuber. Seriously - they have their own action figures now. That kids actually want.

          This is a child whose parents won't let their kids have video games, but are apparently fine with THIS garbage.

        Totally agree. These dude-bro fuckwits are idolised by millions of kids?
        Disgraceful. They are no better than Kardashians.
        Depressing beyond belief.

    I feel like I'm the only one who hadn't heard of this guy until a few days ago, wish I could keep it that way.

      I am the same, had no idea about these talentless sacks of human flesh until Kotaku posted about them. Thanks Kotaku.

    He has done serious, genuine harm to Japanese international relations with this. We haven't even seen the reactionary pro-nationalist politicians and media outlets react to this yet. There's no way to tell just yet how much fallout this is going to cause.

    the current 'children' are being mind f***ed by people like logan
    cmon who likes to feel sad like cmon, have some common sense.
    how is this getting protected when pewdiepie gets wrecked with sayin nibba. whats up with this biased punishments. they BOTH have young audiences and they both should watch out.

    I've honestly never heard of Logan Paul until the other day, reading about the video he made in regards to that particular forest in Japan. The controversy and backlash was huge, with articles and other videos being made.

    Despite not knowing who he is, I think from that video alone, Logan Paul is a narcissistic moron who will try anything to fuel his views and income.

    And yet, no matter how gross any of this gets, Logan Paul still seems to benefit from all of it. Everyone, from the New York Times to perhaps your own mother is talking about him right now.

    I didn't know who the waste of skin was until today, so... good job.

    Logan Paul is what's wrong with YouTube these days. Look at YouTube rewind - who the fuck are those people? I barely recognise any of them. It's a sad reflection on our culture when people like the Paul brothers are icons on YouTube - the kinds of people who post bullshit like this, or what amounts to a "Look at how great my life is!" video.

      Slice of life Youtubers would be pushed into the spotlight because of the low barrier of entry. You don't need to have any specialised knowledge or interests to to understand these people. They are great as brand ambassadors because as long as they do two things, upload an unreasonable amount of content and not alienate the core audience.

      However, spreading yourself thin means your content becomes much more shallow. Chances are we're all commenting on Kotaku posts because we're after something with a little more substance. Hence every second commenter (including myself), having never heard of this guy before.

    Still don't understand why people waste their lives watching garbage like this, when you could go out learn a talent or hobby and master it in the time you waste watching trash. Same goes for social media befuddles me how people can sit on it for the period of time they do when there is so much more to achieve in life. I guess humans are "evolving" right?

      People like light entertainment, always have. Despite how you (and I) feel about this guy, he fits the bill for content designed to make you feel good and think less. Also, how people consume content is changing, it's less people sitting in front of a computer using up their spare time and more people filling in time on commutes and falling asleep.

    Remember when pewdiepie accidently slipped the n word?

    This article sucks. Can't believe how soft people are going on these clowns. He filmed a fucking dead person whilst laughing. Imagine you're hanging from a tree and this clown shows up.

    It's like the dudes that do Fairbairn Films videos. Seriously... I've watched about 10 of their videos and find the guy annoying as all heck and I look at the comments expecting him to be ripped apart and there's 30k likes and non stop comments praising their comical genius.

    What do you expect when the majority votes people like Trump into power, and there are groups that genuinely think the earth is flat...

    I've only known Logan Paul for his vine videos I should have figured that he also had a YouTube channel. The 6-second vines were funny but I don't find his long videos entertaining at all, full of arrogance and obnoxiousness. It's really sad how there's so much fame and money that can be gained from appealing to a really immature demographic.

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