The YouTube Scandal That Rocked Logan Paul's Reputation (& How He Rebuilt It)

The following article includes discussion of suicide. 

Logan Paul looked to drum up controversy in December 2017 when he visited the suicide forest in Aokigahara, Japan for a YouTube video. The area had earned its moniker after becoming a heavily-used location for people to end their lives. In the video, which racked up millions of views, Paul discovered the body of a person who had apparently committed suicide, and he didn't exactly treat the moment with respect. "Yo, are you alive," Paul said with a laugh (via The Wrap). The video was quickly taken down, and the YouTuber faced a deluge of backlash over his insensitivity.

Feeling the pressure from fans, Logan Paul had to address the suicide forrest video, and he issued an apology. "Let's start with this—I'm sorry," he wrote on X, formerly Twitter on January 1, 2018. "I've never faced criticism like this before, because I've never made a mistake like this before," he added in the lengthy note. The following day Paul posted a video to YouTube issuing another apology. On January 3, 2018, Paul announced he was taking a break from YouTube. This time his statement was far more succinct. "[T]aking time to reflect ... no vlog for now ... see you soon," he tweeted.

Later in the month, Paul was interviewed by TMZ and was asked about the controversy. "Everyone deserves second chances, bro," the popular streamer said. Paul did indeed find a second chance when he made a major career pivot into boxing, but he didn't avoid controversy altogether.

How boxing saved Logan Paul

A year after his "suicide forest" controversy, Logan Paul was in hot water again for insensitive remarks he made on his "Impaulsive" podcast. While going vegan in January 2019 for a month, Paul and his co-host Mike Majlak joked they were "going gay" for the month of March. The off-color remarks were noticed by GLAAD who tweeted at the YouTuber. "That's not how it works," the organization wrote. Paul was quick to both apologize and leverage the situation. "[V]ery poor choice of words ... my fault. let's get together and talk about it on my podcast next week?" he tweeted in response to GLAAD.

Later that year Paul made headlines, but this time, it wasn't for any controversial behavior. In 2018, the YouTuber had pivoted to a career in boxing, and by 2019, Paul spoke about how the change did wonders for himself both professionally and personally. "Just like everyone in life, people make mistakes, mine happened to be in public and in front of the whole world," he told the BBC in October 2019. "Boxing is by far one of the best things to happen to my life."

Paul was unafraid of losing in the ring and he believed surviving professional embarrassment, on multiple occasions, was proof of his staying power. "[I]f my career was going to end, it would have ended already," he told Entertainment Tonight in November 2019. Even though his career thrived, Paul still experienced fallout from the Japan controversy.

The Rock turned his back on Logan Paul

Over four years after Logan Paul was enshrouded in scandal from his tasteless YouTube video filmed in Japan, the online personality was grateful for the learning experience. "I often look back at that time of my life and the person I was unfortunately becoming ... I can safely say Japan was the biggest blessing of my life," Paul said on the "The MMA Hour" podcast in March 2022. "And I'm not sure I loved myself back then."

Paul had moved on from the incident, and he exhibited growth both inside and outside the boxing ring. However, the controversy ruined Logan Paul's relationship with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Appearing on "The Pain Game" podcast in June 2022, Paul said that Johnson's publicist asked him to remove any social media posts that featured the "Black Adam" star. The YouTuber was hurt by how Johnson had handled the situation. "I wish I would have gotten a call or text or something because like I thought we had a like a healthy relationship," Paul said. "I was so sad that my hero wanted nothing to do with me."

Losing high profile friends was not the only price Paul paid in the aftermath of the Japan controversy. Two years after the scandal, Paul was hit with a lawsuit in 2020 from Planeless Pictures. They had a deal to film a movie starring Paul, but Google pulled its $3.5 million backing on the heels of the ill-advised Japan video. It was another speed bump in Paul's career thanks to the 2017 incident, but he pressed on with rebranding himself as a boxer and even went so far as to challenge Mike Tyson to fight.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat