American YouTube star Logan Paul posted a video that showed a dead body hanging from a tree in a Japanese forest known as a destination for suicide victims on December 31st. In the video, the footage featured Logan Paul and his companies having a trip in Aokigahara forest and reacting with a frolic attitude when finding out a dead body. After the video was uploaded, Logan Paul has drawn widespread condemnation on social media. Although he gave an apology on his Twitter account and released a new video to express his sorry with removing the original video in few days, the video has brought out reactions ranged from deeply personal expressions of pain and disgust worldwide. On Wednesday, YouTube confirmed that they will end the commercial relationship with Paul.
Aokigahara forest located on the foot of the Mount Fuji is known as a frequent site of suicides and is given a name as “suicide forest”. According to The Japan Times, information from the police department in 2010 shows that there were 247 persons trying to commit suicide in Aokigahara forest, and 54 persons really died in it.
Many films take Aokigahara forest as the background of story. In 2015, movie Sea of Trees starring Matthew McConaughey described an American tries to off himself in the suicide forest, and the story of the movie The Forest also happens in Aokigahara forest, in which a young girl heads to the forest finding her sister committing suicide there.
For many years, the Japanese government has been trying to reduce the public’s attention to Aokigahara forest, hoping to stop pilgrims from heading to there and attempting suicide. According to the article of The Japan Times in 2011, the government installed invigilators at the main entrances to the forest, and stepped up patrols, and also sent more guards to step up patrols.
Japan’s suicide rate ranks top 5 among developed nations, despite the fact that it has declined in recent years. According to the report released by Japanese government last year, there were 21,897 Japanese committed suicides in 2016, which is the lowest number in 20 years.
Logan Paul’s channel has 15 million followers on YouTube, and that controversial video was watched over half a million times before being taken down. Logan Paul, 22, posted an apology on Twitter after the video attracted a torrent of criticism online. He claimed that he had published it in an attempt to raise awareness about suicide and suicide prevention. However, his frivolous attitude when witnessing the dead body indicated that he disrespected the deceased and those who suffer from metal depression. He even yelled to the dead body “Yo! Are you still alive?” The netizens were fed up with his stupid behaviors, and asked YouTube to remove his channel.
With this event spreading worldwide through the Internet and bringing about discussion, netizens found out in his other videos uploaded before, Paul has been saying “I just got to be careful to not like disrespect the Japanese culture” with reckless attitude, but in fact, he has done many disrespectful and ridiculous movements over and over again in Japan. For instance, Paul and his friends threw the PokeBalls to the pedestrians and policemen, flippantly frolicked at the shrine, took off his pants in the street and so on.
After Paul released the video about the suicide forest on YouTube, YouTube has been accused of the lack of reactions to it, which gave rise to the questions about the examination standard of the videos on YouTube from netizens. Although the original one has been removed by Logan Paul himself – even not been removed by YouTube at the first moment – until now, a lot of users still keep re-uploading that video. The Washington Post indicated that maybe the “Logan Paul event” would make YouTube be re-scrutinized by the public in 2018.
After posting an official letter to express opinions on Twitter, YouTube also confirmed on Wednesday that they were going to terminate the commercial relationship with Paul from now on. YouTube said they have shelved Paul’s personal channel that was subscribed by 15.7 million users from the Google Preferred channels, which are the top 5% YouTube channels for large businesses to advertise at high prices.