YouTuber-in-exile Logan Paul did his first televised interview with Good Morning America’s Michael Strahan as part of his continued attempt to rehabilitate his image after posting a video of a man who had recently committed suicide in Japan’s Aokigahara forest.
You can see why Paul agreed to let GMA and Strahan get the first interview; both the show and Strahan allow him to continue the same basic narrative he’s settled on since his video abruptly derailed his flourishing YouTube career: abject contrition, the claim that he only wanted to raise awareness of suicide prevention, and that he’s not a bad guy, but a “good guy who made a bad decision.”
Strahan presses him a bit on why he chose not only to film the body of a man who recently committed suicide but also to edit and post the video, but Paul maintains that he meant only to “shock and show the harsh realities of suicide.” Paul also says that the video has led many online to call for him to take his own life, something he deems “ironic.”
Paul also makes the somewhat laughable claim that he doesn’t realize that his fan base tends to be younger — there are dozens and dozens of videos and photos of him meeting fans who appear to be under the age of 13 — while admonishing parents to monitor their children’s YouTube-viewing habits more closely.
But anything truly illuminating about Logan Paul and this whole episode happens around the edges of the interview.
One moment of real regret and humiliation that seems to pass over Paul’s face, at about 3:30 into the video above, is when Strahan asks him about being dropped from Google Preferred, a mark of trust bestowed on certain content creators. Paul closes his eyes, contracts his eyebrows, and whispers, “Yeah,” with what appears to be real shame. “It hurts,” he says, “but it’s not like I’m drowning. I try not to live my life thinking about money.”
There’s another, at around 4:35 in the video, when Paul talks about creating his “Suicide: Be Here Tomorrow” video, in which he met with the head of the National Suicide Prevention Hotline as well as a man who attempted to take his own life. “One of the things I’m learning — which actually pertains to me — is that crisis passes, man. For anyone suffering, I think it’s important to know that you are not alone. Why I say it’s important for me is, this is the hardest time in my own life. I’ve never been hated by the entire world before.” Viewed in one light, this is an act of empathy; Paul is taking the experience of others and applying it to himself. Viewed in another light, Paul is making the implicit comparison between suicide and halting daily updates to his YouTube channel.
Underneath the layers of performative remorse, you see the same instincts at work that led to Paul, upon finding the body of a man hanging from a tree, to immediately flip the camera back on himself. It’s not hard to suss out that Logan Paul will soon return to daily vlogging, albeit making less money from his YouTube channel and relying more on fans buying “Logang” merchandise. For Logan Paul, the most fascinating, compelling part of this whole incident remains what has happened to Logan Paul.