Logan Paul: The YouTuber whose 'suicide video' appears to have killed his career

Logan Paul: The YouTuber who rose to fame through Vine

Logan Paul has been criticised for a video he made in Aokigahara forest

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

It's the sort of pointless parable that could only be forged in the modern, social media age.

A story of instant fame, punctured in the blank of an eye. A tale of a boy who mined a seam of idiocy and appears to have lost it all, without many people even noticing.

Logan Paul hasn't made anything of physical value, or done anything particularly worthy. He hasn't campaigned to make the world a better place or conceived an invention to change the way we live.

Instead he's become a minor celebrity uploading videos of himself from Japan and the Far East, surfing down the street on a giant Christmas tree, photo-bombing people in Disney Land and playing human pokemon in Tokyo. He's one of that modern hybrid of prankster and daredevil, the kind of people who dangle the clickbait and watch the rest of us take it - while complaining about how vacuous and self-obsessed they are.

But now it seems Paul has gone too far. By making a video of an apparent suicide victim, he appears to have filmed his own demise. With a certain irony, there was almost nobody watching when he did it.

Paul and his friends had ventured out into the Aokigahara forest in Japan, a far cry from the urban environments the 'star' usually roams. The forest is known to be a popular site for suicides, a point Paul makes abundantly clear in his opening address - while smiling into the camera.

He then goes into the forest and, when he sees what appears to be a man hanging limp from a tree, starts filming. To underline the gravity of the situation, he wears a hat shaped like a cartoon alien throughout the clip. And starts laughing while talking about his discovery.

At the start of the clip, Paul says the ensuing footage "definitely marks a moment of YouTube history". But this pobably wasn't he had in mind. Perhaps he assumed everyone else in cyberspace was as inane and ignorant as him. But sadly for him the video has sparked a torrent of criticism, with Game Of Thrones actress Sophie Turner and actor Aaron Paul (no relation) leading the criticism. Despite a public apology, the abuse just keeps on coming.


Meteoric rise to fame

It's all a jarring reality check for Logan Paul, whose YouTube channel has accumulated more than 15 million subscribers, and whose vlogs regularly rack up 20 million views.

Paul is currently living in Los Angeles, after dropping out of Ohio University. He left education in the hopes of forging a career in social media, and found fame on Vine - a platform which allowed users to post six-second videos, played on a loop. He built a following of 9.4 million on Vine and later his YouTube channel became the fastest ever to gain 10 million subscribers.

He now lives on Vine Street, which is also the home of five others who became famous on Vine - real-world evidence that money can be made from literally nothing.

There have been some forays into more conventional channels. Paul's appeared on television, acting in Law and Order as well as Weird Loners, the TV execs seeing him as an ideal gateway to the Millennial market. And his fame has certainly given him a hefty amount of money; a Facebook post alone can gain Paul £110,000 and a sponsored Instagram post can reportedly make him £59,000. Last year he was valued as being worth £4.5 million.

Not only does he work online, but he's also created his own clothing line called Maverick, which is said to have "taken the US by storm." The collection includes items of clothing such as hoodies, jogging bottoms and shirts as well as a variety of hats and backpacks.

Now, however, it all lies in ruins. If anyone remembers Paul in 10 years' time, it'll be as an embodiment of the crass, cynical banality of the early social media age.