Paul’s disrespectful behavior should be acknowledged, deserves greater consequences

On July 1, 2016, at the age of 13, I embarked on a 14 hour flight across the Pacific Ocean, and landed in the Tokyo Narita Airport. I spent my time in Japan working hard to understand and appreciate their loving, forgiving, respectful culture. As a 13-year-old, I made mistakes. I forgot to say thank you. I used my chopsticks as drumsticks. But after being told it was disrespectful, I stopped. About a week and a half ago, 22-year-old YouTube star Logan Paul took a trip to Japan during which he spent his time engaging in problematic and offensive actions in an attempt to be funny.

Paul started up outrage initially with his vlog that was filmed in the Aokigahara forest in Fujikawaguchiko, Japan. According to aokigaharaforest.com, the forest was once known as Jukai or ‘Sea of Trees’ but due to the quiet and eerie nature of the forest, many suicides are committed there. The vlog included footage of Paul and friends hiking through the forest. When the group came across a man who had recently committed suicide, they started nervously laughing. The reasoning behind the decision to wander into this forest with their cameras out was flawed, the legends and truths surrounding the forest are not a secret, and Paul knew what he was walking into.

Purposefully looking for and laughing at someone who chose to end their life is not something anyone should do, much less post a video about. According to wired.com, Paul zoomed in on the corpse and made several jokes about it. On YouTube Paul has over 15 million subscribers, most of which are minors and are easily impressionable. According to CNN, exposure to suicide at a young age increases the risk of the child becoming depressed and completing suicide later in life. Videos like this that are open for the public to see can actually increase suicide rates.

After controversy was stirred up about Paul’s trip to the Aokigahara forest, other vlogs of his trip were brought to attention. In one video titled ‘WE FOUGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF TOKYO’ Paul begins the vlog by shouting into the street “I’m here to cause trouble in your country.” He then approaches cars and yells at the drivers in English, and even puts his arm into one car to pet a dog. It is clear that the citizens do not understand him and are very graceful when interacting with a white man barging into their cars.

When I was in Japan, the family that I stayed with took me to Kawagoe to be dressed in a traditional yukata (summer kimono). In one video, Paul puts on an ill fitting kimono, tied hastily around his waist. He also wore a surgical mask and a kasa, which is a cone shaped hat. The look was completed with Paul putting his hands together in a mock praying position and bowing at people and objects he passed by. This made fun of the traditional Japanese bowing which is done out of respect for the other person. By joking around with it, he disrespected the Japanese culture.

According to nymag.com, in a video titled ‘KICKED OUT OF JAPAN! (I’m sorry) JP’ Paul runs screaming through a marketplace and washes his hands in holy water at the Sensoji Temple. This temple is the oldest buddhist temple in Tokyo and one of the most significant. He then goes on to say that the water is “for people who are real pieces of sh** in life.”

After all of his xenophobic, harassing actions went viral, Paul responded with a crude letter written in the notes of his iPhone. In the letter, he apologizes for the actions in the suicide forest and attributes the actions to being surprised by the body. This does not explain the reason that he continued to film, uploaded the video, and zoomed in on the body. He also posted a video titled ‘So Sorry’ which has even less sentiment than the letter. The video simply reaffirms what the letter included. The letter was followed up by a tweet that says that Paul is taking time to reflect and will not be posting any vlogs for the time being. The weak apology and disrespectful actions have made me reflect on my time in Japan and appreciate it even more. It is outrageous that a 13-year-old was able to respect Japanese culture and apologize more effectively than an adult who chose to harass and belittle the people of a place he chose to travel to.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email