Editor’s Note: Ranier Maningding is a copywriter and mastermind behind the social justice page “The Love Life of an Asian Guy“. The opinions expressed in this piece are solely his own.
It’s easy to tell when children are hiding something.
Kind of reminds me of that time I was playing Super Smash Bros with my 6-year-old nephew and I was mopping the floor with him. After I whooped his ass with the nastiest Captain Falcon knee, he threw his controller down and said, “Uncle, can we play Minecraft instead?”
At six-years-old, my nephew already understood an important lesson that Don Draper from Mad Men once said: “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.”
In his latest Youtube video titled “Suicide: Be Here Tomorrow,” future Gary Busey impersonator Logan Paul did just that: he changed the conversation away from his racist, bigoted behavior and focused on suicide prevention, an issue he obviously doesn’t give a fuck about since he made an entire Youtube video joking about suicide.
What should have been a moment to discuss suicidal ideation and mental health morphed into a seven minute video of Logan Paul rubbing his hands together, trying desperately to ignite a fire back into his career. Some of the scenes didn’t even make fucking sense. Why was he petting a dog? Why do we keep getting close-up shots of his translucent face?
Unsurprisingly, the Logang (Paul’s legion of middle school superfans) were quick to defend their favorite YouTuber, washing away his racist sins in a salty bath of cold White tears. Once again, Logan Paul’s name is in the news and people can’t stop talking about him.
While most publications see through Paul’s bullshit suicide prevention video, I can’t help but notice a gaping hole in the discussion:
Logan Paul made a video in the suicide forest, a place in Japan where people end their life. But it’s not a place where White people go to commit suicide — this is a uniquely Japanese problem. Though suicide is a global concern, Paul’s decision to talk about suicide in America completely whitewashes the depressing reality of suicide in Japan.
Similar to mass shootings in America, suicide in Japan is a national crisis and many of the contributing factors are also uniquely Japanese. Japanese politicians, mental health experts, and activists are scrambling to find answers to decrease the number of yearly suicides. Japan currently ranks second after Lithuania for the highest suicide rates in the world.
Wataru Nishida, a psychologist at Tokyo’s Temple University points to a few cultural factors that explain Japan’s high rates of suicide, including religion.
Since Japan has no history of Christianity, the concept of suicide doesn’t have the same negative connotations in Japan. Christians classify suicide as an ultimate sin, but many Japanese residents see suicide as an ideal, noble decision.
Elderly Japanese parents looking to care for their adult children will often commit suicide in hopes that life insurance will offer a much needed financial boost. Nishida asserts that “there is sometimes an intolerable pressure on the elderly that the most loving thing they can do is take their lives and thereby provide for their family.”
All of these reasons have a specific cultural connections to Japan. Without Japanese people and the country’s chaotic work life that plunges people into a pool of depression, there is no suicide forest. If Logan Paul wants to bring awareness towards the Japanese suicide forest, he needs to recognize that attitudes about suicide and mental health are different in San Francisco than they are in Tokyo, Japan.
If I wanted to talk about White mass shooters in America, it would make absolutely no sense to bring up gang violence in Ireland. At the end of the day, yes, killing is killing, but there are specific reasons why mass shootings are a major issue in America and not Ireland. The same method needs to be applied when discussing Logan Paul’s video about the Aokigahara Forest.
If we want to criticize Paul, we need to start with his his anti-Asian racism. We need to talk about why he thought it was okay to film a dead body, and the racist pathology that inspired him. We also need to ask why YouTube took down Logan’s suicide forest video yet they refuse to remove the other racist videos he uploaded where he disrespected Japan.
But of course, we all know Logan Paul will never, truly apologize for his cultural ignorance and racism. He hasn’t learned a damn thing but thank god, a good portion of America has. Like his diminishing hairline, Logan Paul’s reputation will never bounce back. He’s been blacklisted by Hollywood executives, he’s being sued for $4 million by his former sponsors, the Japanese police are looking for him, and his YouTube ads will receive half as much money while he struggles to pay for the $8 million home you know he can’t afford (anymore.)
Unfortunately, Logan Paul will always be around. He’s a White man on YouTube with 16 million subscribers who makes shitty internet videos for kids. He ain’t going nowhere. As long as he has his whiteness and wealth, he will continue fucking up, apologizing, fucking up, and apologizing. And people will gladly take him back.
This is how the world works when you’re White. It doesn’t matter if you’re explicitly racist, sexist, and xenophobic. If you’re a rich White dude like Logan Paul, you can pay your way out of any situation. You can donate $1 million to the first charity you find on the Google search page and make your problems disappear.
But if you don’t like what Logan Paul has to say, and if you aren’t here for his whitewashing and racism, all you have to do is speak up, and the change the conversation.