If you’ve been following trending topics on Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube recently you may have come across the matter of a certain Logan Paul video that has caused commotion at the conclusion of the year. Logan Paul is a YouTube vlogger with a massive following of 15 million subscribers to his channel. He recently took a vacation to Japan and, as he has for the past two years, continued to document his life through daily vlogs. However, in one particular video, Logan visited the infamous suicide forest in which he discovered a recently deceased body and continued to film as normal. Now, although Logan blurred the face of the victim, the video caused a major up roar from the general public. This raises an important question for a number of people: should YouTube, or social media, have a stricter policy on censorship for those that use the platform?
Personally, I am an avid YouTube viewer and subscriber of many different channels that upload a variety of content. I have watched Logan Paul’s vlogs for around a year now and although I do not actually know him, after watching a year of his life, he began to grow on me and I get a feel of what to expect from him. Logan is a crazy, hyper, random, and ridiculous 22 year old who rarely makes the right decisions and is always getting in trouble. I do not say this to say he is a bad guy, it’s just who he chooses to be in life. When you are as crazy as he is, and add seemingly endless funds and opportunities, at his young age he is bound to make mistakes. He lives first and thinks second, something many people in this world have forgotten to do. Logan made a mistake, but the punishment was much more than the crime he committed. He does not deserve the level of harsh criticism he has been receiving online.
There seems to be a reoccurring trend in the past year to condemn people for being who they are at heart and not fitting in to the status quo. Adding more censorship may only lead to more restrictions and conformity. YouTube was created as a platform for content creators to express themselves creatively and share their videos or clips with the world. Progressively each year, it becomes more and more restricted to accommodate the feelings of those offended by something they have seen or heard in a video. We live in a digital age now where almost anything is accessible to view if you wish to view it. Sometimes censorship is the responsibility of an individual, meaning people have the power of choosing to avoid content that may be offensive or inappropriate to them.
Now I was unable to see the actual video before it was deleted due to the backlash, but there are a few key things noticed that would tell a person if they would be disturbed by the video. Firstly, the title of the video was “We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest…” and the thumbnail photo for the video also had a body with a blurred face featured in it (Vincent, 2018). If you are someone who struggles with topics such as suicide or seeing death, the title of the video should be a good indicator you may not like said video. If that were not enough, there was also a viewer discretion warning before the video began (Vincent, 2018), as Logan does have a multitude of young subscribers who should not be exposed to the content of that particular video. If viewers knew this might be a trigger for them, then they should have decided to avoid watching the video. There were clear indicators of the contents featured in the video, therefore they knew what they would see if they continued watching.
What he did was morally wrong but he is not the only one at fault in this affair. In the movie Rocky Balboa, Sylvester Stallone made a very good point that could be applied to not only this situation, but also many of the situations that have angered people in life. Stallone stated,
“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward” (Balboa, 2006).
This quote is important because it shows that regardless of how much censorship we place on social media, there will always be something to upset people. We have to avoid the things we do not like, and instead focus our time on more important topics of racism, global warming, equal rights, and women’s rights.” I am a major believer in picking your battles and fighting for what’s truly important in the world and things that will benefit us as the human race. In today’s world we are very easily offended and want anything that offends us to disappear in the blink of an eye and when it does not we throw a tantrum.
I understand not everyone will agree with my stance and that is okay. It is easy to see why some have such a negative reaction to the video and why they desire such a heavy push for more censorship. Technology is all around us now and is almost inescapable. Often times it allows us to see more than we really should or are even ready to handle. This is especially an issue for younger children who have access to this content. One thing the many critiques of Logan’s video pointed out was that many of the responders did not fit the demographic of his usual viewers. Which led me to believe that many of them were friends or family of viewers who have heard of his vlog channel mentioned from family. This is evident because ever since the incident, Logan Paul has not majorly decreased in YouTube Subscribers, or followers on his social media accounts.
Most people may have happened to stumble across an article about the video and proceeded to watch the one sole video, which took him and his actions out of context and immediately rang the alarm because they feared this is what their kids and loved ones are being exposed too. I admit, if I were to see a random video of a guy in a suicide forest showing a deceased body and laughing and making jokes while in the situation they were in, I may not want my loved ones looking up to that guy either. But we quickly forget about context and perspective and down right knowing a person. In many previous videos and interviews over the years, Logan has stated that he suffers from laughing and joking in situations that are too serious or uncomfortable for him to handle. He even states later in the offending video that humor is his way of coping with the situation and wasn’t meant as a form of mockery (Park, 2018). Most of us even know people like that in our own lives.
But the issue remains the same of young people being exposed to this type of content. Children are easily impressionable and take things they see very literally without having the life experience and knowledge to know how to act if they were in that type of situation. Children and even most people should not be exposed to that video because of the deeper issues it encompasses but we also need to not censor everything that may be offensive. This also raises the issue of who gets to decide whether an issue is offensive or not and on what grounds. With every decision there will be someone who ends up unhappy. You cannot please a hundred percent of people a hundred percent of the time. To do this you’ll have to live in a very restricted and stripped down world where no one is free. Many top content creators on YouTube have gone on record to say they do not like what social media content has become and are tired of conforming to what people want to see rather than the type of content they truly wish to create (Zerkaa, 2017). One well-known creator in particular, KSI, has even stated he will no longer upload videos based on peoples requests for him but from now on will make the videos he desires to put out and will put them out on a schedule suitable for him and his time interests (KSI, 2017). This feeling of being somewhat enslaved for the entertainment of others is another reason why there should not be a big push for censorship.
So where does the world go from here? Should we move in the direction of a more censored online environment somewhat like China has, with many main websites blocked or blacked out to create a certain experience deemed suitable for users (Xu and Albert, 2017)? Should we come together and reach a sensible compromise or form of agreement on what content should be allowed online? If we truly work together we can come up with a sensible plan that will work for both parties. This issue does not hold blame on either side as each side has work to do to prevent these events happening in the future.
For content creators and companies such as YouTube, or anyone posting online, I propose simply being more mindful of your audience. Just like they do with movie and video game ratings, classify and restrict your content with age ranges suitable for what’s covered in the video or post. Also I propose having a more interactive viewer discretion warning that a user has to agree to have read and then click to continue so there is no accidental stumbling onto a graphic video. This being said, it is impossible to keep everyone out of content that they shouldn’t be viewing. Like they say, “if there’s a will, there’s a way.” Because of this, for parents I propose having a more active role in the lives of your children and loved ones and educating them on how the real world is and what they should not be exposed to yet and why. Likewise, for all non-parents, have responsibility for your actions and do not venture into areas you know will negatively affect you in some way.
We all have work to do in the role of creating a world suitable for all, but blaming one another will surely not get use there. Working together for a common goal yields much faster and smoother progress for all. Everyone should have an equal say in the equation. We are all humans and we all have a voice that matters.
Balboa, R. (2006). Quotes from “Rocky Balboa”. [online] IMDb. Available at:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0479143/quotes [Accessed 10 Jan. 2018].
KSI. (2017). Let’s have a talk. [online] Available at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxxgopfXpbk [Accessed 12 Jan. 2018].
Park, M. (2018). YouTube star Logan Paul posts new apology for showing video of body.
[online] CNN. Available at: http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/02/health/logan-paul-video/index.html [Accessed 10 Jan. 2018].
Vincent, J. (2018). YouTuber Logan Paul apologizes for filming suicide victim, says ‘I didn’t do
it for views’. [online] The Verge. Available at: https://www.theverge.com/2018/1/2/16840176/logan-paul-suicide-video-apology-aokigahara-forest [Accessed 10 Jan. 2018].
Xu, B. and Albert, E. (2017). Media Censorship in China. [online] Council on Foreign Relations.
Available at: https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/media-censorship-china [Accessed 12 Jan. 2018].
Zerkaa. (2017). zerkaa homegrown podcast – YouTube. [online] Available at:
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=zerkaa+homegrown+podcast [Accessed 12 Jan. 2018].