A recent article on Elite Daily investigated the life of YouTuber Logan Paul after his video content came under much controversy in December. Paul had posted a video with footage of him in Japan’s Aokigahara forest beside an apparent suicide victim, which was deemed inappropriate by audiences for the obviously disturbing insensitivity to a severe tragedy.
Since then, Elite Daily notes, Paul’s videos have not illustrated much change. While Paul did take a break from the YouTube scene and posted a video related to suicide support and charity toward groups that work to prevent suicides, his other content has included many instances of violence toward animals, reckless and violent behavior, and insensitivity to others around him, even when it seems that they were in the wake of tragedy such as a car crash.
And despite this disturbing content, Paul’s subscribers still remain at nearly 17 million people. The relationship between this statistic and his content begs the question: Why? And what does this staggering number show about our society?
It seems that society continues to become desensitized to violence, and supports seeing violence and aggressive behavior affirmed in entertainment. YouTube has now created a bridge between the violence that once seemed restricted to fictional video-games and the film industry, and reality. No longer is this behavior unique to entertainment industries, but rather, audiences are subscribing to witness an even greater “thrill” and “shock-factor” in violence that seems to occur naturally in the life of a “real person” disrupting his environment in any way he can.
For some, Paul’s media controversies have been an opportunity to reevaluate the content permitted and supported on YouTube, and content-producers like Ethan Klein of H3H3 have created videos directly criticizing Paul. But all of us, whether immersed in the YouTube scene or not, should take note and consider the weight of this content and the audiences that continue to support it. Although we tend to focus on grand-scale tragedies in the media, like the recent deaths of infants under the United Kingdom’s healthcare system, it is also important to pay great attention to even the most mundane-seeming aspects of life and how they impact a constantly evolving sense of self and life in our culture.