Logan Paul's Unsustainable Work Life Is Partly To Blame For His “Suicide Forest” Problem, YouTubers Say

Emma Mcintyre / Getty Images

Logan Paul at 102.7 KIIS FM’s Jingle Ball 2017 on Dec. 1, 2017.

Logan Paul’s fall from grace at YouTube after posting a much maligned video that included a dead man’s body hanging from a tree in Japan was, according to many people in the vlogging industry, inevitable given the unrelenting pressure to go viral in the name of money.

In interviews with popular YouTubers and people who work in the industry that has grown to support them, many said Paul’s ambitious goal of posting, in his words, “a 15-minute TV show EVERY SINGLE DAY for the past 460+ days” just wasn’t sustainable. And for now at least, the resulting mistake appears to have cost Paul a big chunk of income and possibly derailed his acting ambitions.

John Sciulli

Logan Paul attends the sneak peek of the go90 social entertainment platform in 2015.

YouTube, which is owned by Google, said in a statement on Wednesday that in response to the Japanese “suicide forest” controversy, Paul’s channels were being removed from Google Preferred, a program that allows companies to sell ads on the videos of the top 5% of the platform’s most popular content creators. YouTube will also not feature Paul — who has more than 15 million subscribers — in the fourth season of the web series Foursome, and his new original series for the paid streaming platform YouTube Red “are on hold.”

Byron Austen Ashley, president of Settebello Entertainment, a talent and literary management company focused on building careers for emerging talent, said the highly competitive business model of YouTube can push content creators to attempt dangerous and misguided stunts.

“There is pressure to push the envelope, to be the class clown, and that keeps escalating and escalating,” he said.

Paul has abstained from posting on YouTube since Jan. 2, when he posted his “So Sorry” video. He later tweeted: “taking time to reflect. no vlog for now. see you soon.”

His representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

Paul’s video came as the culmination of what he called an impromptu trip to Japan over the holidays that was spurred by a travel itch, a break in his schedule, and a desire to get out of Los Angeles for New Year’s.

But the trip appeared to be off-kilter from the very start. A wild coyote ran down his Encino street as he was being chauffeured to the airport, leaving him concerned about his small Pomeranian dog, Kong. When he arrived at Los Angeles International Airport for the flight to Tokyo, he realized he had left his passport at home, had an assistant rush it to the airport, and admitted to another passenger, “I have a lot of things on my mind.”

When his flight arrived in Tokyo, Paul couldn’t find his luggage and was told that someone else had taken his bag before it was eventually located. Paul was also losing his voice and had to see a doctor, who informed him he had a sinus and throat infection. Even so, Paul was determined to maintain his daily vlogging schedule.

“I made a promise when I started vlogging to deliver you guys the most entertaining, exhilarating, incredible content ever!” Paul said from his Tokyo hotel room. “And goddamn, I am going to do that.”

Before heading to Aokigahara, a forest located at the base of Mount Fuji, Paul and his Logang cohorts spent their first few days in Tokyo donning kimono-style robes and conical rice-farmer hats, dancing outside Japanese ceremonial temples, submerging Paul’s GoPro in koi ponds, visiting cat cafes, and dressing up in Pokémon costumes as they ran through city streets, fish markets, and traffic.

Each day, the 22-year-old YouTube star turned the group’s antics into a 15-minute video, with titles like “REAL LIFE POKÉMON GO IN TOKYO! (catching strangers)” and “KICKED OUT OF JAPAN! (i’m sorry),” generating millions of views each.

Jordan Worona, a talent manager for YouTube influencers at the media company Studio71, said daily vlogging helps creators “pick up steam” and quickly grow a following, but the pressure of putting videos together on a daily basis can be extreme.

“Burnout is a real thing in every industry, but especially with these kids,” Worona said. “It’s because every single day you are thinking of concepts, titles, thinking of how to get attention for your videos, and I think it can be exhausting for them.”

Compounding the issue is the fact that creators often have few editorial safeguards in place. Ashley of Settebello Entertainment said that, as in the case of Paul, when the central focus of a vlog is one person who got rich and famous at a young age, that person is often surrounded by enablers.

“When you are with your friends and you are the most popular guy in the room, if not the world, people aren’t telling you ‘no,’ people aren’t telling you ‘that is a bad idea,’” he said. “People want to say ‘yes.’ They are yes-men, and that is how something like this happens.”

Paul’s apology on Twitter, in which he references the strain of producing a daily “TV show” for more than 460 days in a row, also sheds light on the issues that arise due to creators’ lack of resources, said Chris Ryan, director of brand partnership at Talent Resources.

TV shows have crews of 30 or 40 people, and even they take breaks, he noted.

“The problem is Logan is doing it all himself,” Ryan said, adding that the YouTuber should have “someone to take the pressure off so you can be a little more creative and have a clear head.”

Jason Kempin

Christine Sydelko and Elijah Daniel pose backstage at the 9th annual Shorty Awards in 2017.

Vine star turned social media sensation Christine Sydelko told BuzzFeed News she tried for a while to post two vlogs a week with Elijah Daniel, but it didn’t take long before they decided the grind was too much.

“I think when you establish yourself as someone who does outrageous things, you are setting yourself up to always to be looking for that next big stunt,” Sydelko, who has 1.1 million YouTube subscribers, said. “And I think it gets tiring, it gets hard, and I think that is where there are some lapses in judgment.”

Established “storytime” creator Tana Mongeau, who has close to 3 million subscribers on her YouTube channel, said she aims to post a vlog three to five days a week. But even that schedule is hard to maintain.

Paul’s stamina for maintaining such a rigorous production schedule surely demanded a constant flow of video concepts and ideas. Still, Mongeau said, “If you are getting to the point where you have to film a dead body to make that movie, then maybe take a break.”

“Every day you are waking up at the crack of dawn making sure you do something in your day that is going to entice millions of people and to get them to come back the next day, editing it or having someone else editing it, promoting it, and then starting again,” the 19-year-old said. “That is really hard.”

Paul apparently tried to give some sort of public-service-message angle to the “suicide forest” video, talking directly to the camera to tell viewers that suicide is not the answer.

Logan Paul / YouTube

Logan Paul reacts after seeing a dead body in the so-called “suicide forest.”

“Stay strong — whatever it is that you are going through. Anyone can achieve that feeling of being fulfilled and being content. And I truly believe that every person has a place on this earth,” Paul said, before adding: “With that said — weird one, this one is a weird one, we are all still shook. Is it bad if I do the subscribe? Maybe — nah, man, this is why I do it, so people can live the journey with me. So if you are not part of the Logang, be sure to subscribe.”

Now, everyone waits to see what will come of his self-imposed hiatus.

In the meantime, the punitive action taken by YouTube isn’t expected to be a career killer. Paul has a fervent stanbase that spends millions on his merchandise and has remained loyal throughout the controversy. If anything, his base has grown. The “So Sorry” video posted on Jan. 2 had racked up more than 42 million views as of Saturday. And despite not posting since then, he has gained more than 480,000 new subscribers.

“This doesn’t ruin Logan Paul,” Philip DeFranco said on his popular YouTube show. “This is essentially a speed bump for his career.”

Claudia Rosenbaum is an entertainment reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Claudia Rosenbaum at claudia.rosenbaum@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.

Ellen Revealed Her Father Just Passed Away And Shared A Story That'll Leave You A Mess

“I lost my dad this week. … He was 92 years old; he had a good, long life. He lived his life exactly how he wanted: He was Christian Science his entire life. He never had medicine his whole life, never went a doctor. I never had a vaccination, we never had medicine growing up. … He was very proud of me; he loved this show. He was a kind man, very accepting man. There was not one bone of judgment in his body. He was very funny. I think my brother, Vance, and I got our sense of humor from him.”

31 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Reese Witherspoon

1. Reese Witherspoon’s real name is Laura Jean Reese Witherspoon.

2. “Reese” is actually her mother’s maiden name.

3. She has her own lifestyle brand called Draper James, which is named after her grandparents Dorothea Draper and William James Witherspoon.

4. She has a book club on Instagram where she recommends a new book every month.

5. When she was younger, her dream job was to be the first female president of the United States of America.

6. She was a football and wrestling cheerleader when she was younger.

7. She briefly attended Stanford University, where she studied English literature — she even visited her old college dorm room in 2017.

8. She decided to become a producer after reading a terrible script that her agent sent. She said, “If every actress in Hollywood wants this part, I need to start making movies because this is not worth women’s talent.”

9. In 2012 she started her second production company, Pacific Standard. They currently have over 23 projects in the works that are “driven by great female characters of different ages and races.”

10. She self-funded Pacific Standard for five years, and in that time she acquired the rights to several popular books, including Wild and Gone Girl.

11. At the end of 2017, she started the Time’s Up movement by texting and emailing all of her close friends and colleagues in Hollywood.

12. She even donated $500K of her own money to the project.

13. She was the first person to host Saturday Night Live following the 9/11 terrorist attacks at just 25 years old.

14. Her first role was in a commercial when she was 7 years old. After that, her mom started taking her down to the local college for acting lessons.

15. Her first major acting role was in The Man in the Moon at just 14 years old. She got the role after attending an open casting call in her hometown.

16. Reese and her producing partner Bruna Papandrea read the novel Big Little Lies before it was even published. They got their hands on the manuscript and read it in 24 hours.

17. Reese and Nicole Kidman got the option for Big Little Lies after Reese convinced Nicole to go have lunch with the author, Liane Moriarty, in Sydney, Australia.

18. Then, they called Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley, and Zoë Kravitz and asked them to be in Big Little Lies, and they immediately said yes.

19. Before Big Little Lies, Reese’s only other TV roles were in Friends and a Lifetime drama. She also guest-starred in The Mindy Project.

20. In 2018, Reese will reunite with her Friends co-star Jennifer Aniston for a new series focused on female morning show hosts.

21. It took her six months to learn to sing and play instruments for her role as June Carter in Walk the Line.

22. She went on to win an Academy Award for that role in 2006.

23. To prepare for Legally Blonde, she went to the University of Southern California and had dinner with a sorority, then went to Loyola Law School and sat in on some classes.

24. She got to keep most of Elle Woods’ clothes from Legally Blonde.

25. She wore no makeup for her role as Cheryl Strayed in Wild.

26. Her favorite TV show is Mad Men. While her favorite movie of all time is Splendor in the Grass.

27. Her fashion icon is C. Z. Guest.

28. One of her distant relatives, John Witherspoon, signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

29. She has a tattoo on her stomach of a star and two birds.

30. Her favorite Disney character is Tinker Bell.

31. And finally, her mom has a dog named Ellie, who is named after Reese’s Legally Blonde.