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YouTuber Logan Paul gave his first sit-down interview Thursday after nearly a month of public scrutiny following a controversial vlog he posted in early January. The video featured footage of an apparently dead man he’d encountered in the woods with friends on a recent trip to Japan’s “suicide forest.” Paul deleted the video, but the story has been following him for weeks.
The gaffe has seemed to have a twofold impact on Paul’s career so far: On the one hand, YouTube severed all its outward-facing business ties with the vlogger (after a fair amount of social media outcry), which he’s admitted “hurts” his bottom line. Plus, you know, it makes him look bad. On the other hand, his channel saw subscriber growth in the millions as the backlash against him unfolded—even despite Paul’s self-imposed hiatus from uploading new content. He has since ended his break from the platform with a special video he dedicated to the topic of suicide prevention, and now he has over 16.3 million followers whose feeds his new videos will hit daily. His audience is bigger than ever, and now people outside of the YouTube world can recognize his name too. What’s yet to be seen is if Paul has actually turned a new leaf.
Michael Strahan got right into that murkiness in his Good Morning America interview Thursday, his first since the controversy. Paul started out with a brief explanation of his feelings on the scandal now that he’s had some time to reflect. He told Strahan the idea had been to “just do another fun vlog,” but that things had “obviously changed pretty drastically and quickly.” Strahan reminded Paul that he’d still filmed the footage, edited it, and then published it.
“Was there a point where you said, ‘Hm. Maybe this is not a good decision. Maybe I should not show that.’?” he asked.
Paul’s face got serious. “Yeah, yeah,” he said. “The idea was to shock, and show the harsh realities of suicide, and get people talking about something that I don’t think people are talking about much.”
FULL INTERVIEW: YouTube star @LoganPaul speaks out, one-on-one with @MichaelStrahan. "I am a good guy who made a bad decision…I will think twice in the future about what I post." pic.twitter.com/5ju8WPA4HV
— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 1, 2018
Paul admits to being shocked at the amount of backlash he’s received but says he understands why people are hurt. He says he’s going to take his enormous, young audience a little more seriously than he has in the past, too. “I will think twice in the future about what I post, probably three times,” he said, adding that he believes not everyone deserves a second chance. Paul says he hopes people can accept the video as a “horrible lapse of judgment,” and said he “can, will, and am going to learn from it and be a better person.”
Christine Friar is a writer and editor in New York who focuses on streaming entertainment and internet culture. Her work has appeared in the Awl, the Fader, New York Magazine, Paper Magazine, Vogue, Elle, and more.