Three weeks ago, YouTube personality Logan Paul and his friends posted a video of themselves mocking a dead body that they had found in Japan’s “Suicide Forest.” The appallingly callous video ignited a firestorm of criticism, and Paul apologized effusively. It almost seemed as if his career was done for good.
But because social media personalities cannot function without attention, and because we live in a society that is willing to forgive even the most awful of men as long as they are white and straight, Paul is winning people back with his inevitable apology tour.
In his newest video, Paul appears with noticeably shorter hair and is wearing a sensible black tee. You didn’t expect him to apologize rocking a stars and stripes headband, did you? Paul interviews a suicide awareness advocate when he isn’t staring meaningfully into the distance in a tasteful beanie. He also lets us know just how incredibly sowwy he is, and how much he is changing, and how much he really really just wants us to be staring at his handsome blonde face again.
But not all of the Internet is buying it.
As one Twitter user wrote, “If you are truly changing, then it should show in every video you make from here on out. It DOES NOT END with a well-timed PR piece, where you wash your face and hands in slowmo, have a new haircut, and speak with a somber affectation.”
Thousands of people liked the tweet.
Regardless of Paul’s intentions, however, it’s still notable that he’s giving a voice to Kevin Hines, a suicide prevention advocate who is one of only 36 people to have jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge and survived.
The video also includes statistics about suicide, a leading cause of death among young people.
“I think as a society, as human beings, we just have to be more compassionate and that includes me too,” says Paul at one point, in what is hopefully a merely accidental invocation of the #MeToo movement.
And the problem really isn’t entirely Logan Paul. The problem is that people like Logan Paul have a voice and a platform that we don’t challenge nearly as often as we should. Collectively, we don’t appear to be teaching young straight white men the empathy that they sorely need in order to function like decent human beings. Empathy is obviously in short supply when the Leader of the Free World is an accused serial sexual predator.