Logan Paul is Why We Need (Some) Gatekeepers

If you don’t know who Logan Paul is, congratulations. It also means that you don’t know about the odious thing he did earlier in the week. I sincerely wish that I was you, so that I could be writing about something pleasant, or at least venting my spleen about something more substantive. Please leave now, unsullied, and spare yourself the pain.

The issue is that we live in an age where style is mistaken for substance. I know, I know, that’s something that gets bandied about with every new generation, regarding every new media trend or change in technology. Honestly, though, the difference between now and past eras is that we no longer have gatekeepers. For the most part, as a creative person, I think that’s a good thing. Logan Paul demonstrates how this can be a bad thing.

When the video was released and controversy blew up across social media, Katie and I talked about it at length. Yes, he’s a 22-year-old dumbass with a YouTube channel. Anyone with a camera has a YouTube channel, and nearly every device you own comes with a camera built in. We talked about what he filmed, what he released, and what it would take for that video to get to the public in the past. He would have been stopped at any of several points along the process.

He’d have to shop it. There would be some editor, or general manager, who had to approve putting it on a website, or on the news broadcast, or in the newspaper. It would likely have to be run past legal, who would be concerned about offending the Japanese government, being sued by the family of the victim, or facing backlash from their audience members who found it in poor taste.

Logan Paul still had to get past several fail points. He knew where he was going, and what he might find there. His little group had a guide. The entire time he was planning this particular excursion, he could have changed his mind. During the hike out, he could have reconsidered what he was doing. At any point while he was filming, he could have turned off the camera. While waiting for the police, and riding back into Tokyo, he could have had an epiphany and put an end to it.

He not only had to put effort into editing the video together, he even stood outside and filmed an introduction to the thing. At any point, he could have changed his mind, had the realization that this was wrong. As he sat in his room uploading it to YouTube, he could have stopped, and decided not to make it live. He certainly could have pulled it down of his own accord, prior to getting a reported 6 million monetized views.

He only took it down because there was an outcry. Either he knew it was wrong and did it anyway, or he still don’t think it was wrong but realizes that people are mad and he needs to smooth things over. Which smacks of psychopathy to me, but hey, what do I know?

What he could have done, to still get a bajillion hits and leverage the incident, was sit in his hotel room that night and told the story. No actual footage. No images of the dead. Just him sitting on the bed going “Holy crap, you won’t believe what happened today!”.

But he has no responsible adult guiding him. There is no mentor over his shoulder, teaching him the etiquette of journalism and the reality of public opinion. There is no editor, no censor, no gatekeeper to at least guide him, demand that he make some changes, or advise him what a bad idea the whole thing was from start to finish.

Vanity Fair gets it just right. Logan Paul is just another man-baby who has been allowed to run with scissors and eat paste. We keep letting man-babies have their way. They’re ruining everything. We need to stop giving them a platform. We certainly have to stop making them famous, wealthy, and culturally as well as politically powerful.

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