Casey Neistat just released a lengthy, unedited interview with Logan Paul, the controversial YouTuber whose video from the Japanese “suicide forest” in January earned worldwide scorn.
Months later, Logan Paul wants to tell people about the circumstances that made it happen. He’s making a documentary about his ascent to fame, and the way having millions of supportive fans can blind you.
So when Paul asked Casey Neistat to appear in that forthcoming documentary, Neistat agreed on the condition that Paul sit down for an interview himself. The video is unmonetized and uncut, Neistat tells The Verge, because he wanted it to be real.
“I personally felt the impact of Logan’s actions as a creator,” Neistat said in a phone call last night. “I personally felt some degree of shame — I was embarrassed to say I was a YouTuber.”
“My intention was to see if he is sincere or if the whole thing is a charade for PR, and after watching this whole thing over and over, I’m still not sure,” Neistat says in the video. “To be totally honest, I am still not sure releasing it is the right thing.”
Asked last night if he thinks Paul has grown out of this self-destructive cycle, all Neistat would say was “I believe now that he understands the consequences of his actions.”
The entire interview — totally uncut and complete with interruptions from passing emergency sirens, audio issues, and asides to the camera operators — is worth watching. Referring to himself as “the most hated man in the world,” Paul says he’s making a “redemption story.”
“Is it possible for Logan Paul to make a comeback or am I going to be a failed YouTuber?” asks Paul. “I got so caught up with my actions of being validated by millions of people I forgot to be a human being in that situation and instead decided to be a content creator.”
But he’s still Logan Paul, the brash YouTuber who also explains the conflict between what he says he wants and what he’s actually doing by saying “That’s why I’m a brand — that’s who Logan Paul is. I bridge the gap between being a motivational speaker for kids, and saying, yeah, I am a fucking kid. I’m 23 years old and if I want to go jump out of a plane naked, I’m going to go fucking do it. But at the same time you can work hard and achieve your goals.”
It’s also clear Paul still hasn’t fully come to grips with the whole of the controversy surrounding him. For one, the documentary seems premature — and Neistat says as much. But Neistat also pushes Paul on the other parts of his trip to Japan, reminding him that he dressed up as Pikachu and jumped on the hoods of cars. Paul’s answer? “There’s a difference between being culturally insensitive — being insensitive towards a culture — and being insensitive,” Paul says, further claiming that his laughing at the dead body in the forest was really a “defense mechanism.”
“To my fellow creators, wholeheartedly, I am sorry I brought shame upon the platform,” he says. “I promise I will do the community well and keep on trucking and bring light to YouTube.”
Part of the disconnect comes from the reality of Paul’s last six months. Since the Japan videos, the older Paul brother successfully pivoted to another stunt: he’s spent months hyping up what he’s calling the biggest event in the history of YouTube.
The plan, which will unfold on August 25th, is to box against YouTuber KSI, who has 19 million subscribers. To promote it, the pair have been doing a series of press conferences where they both talk shit to rile up their fans. The first event, which happened in June 2018, was not great. Even so, it was better than the event that happened in July in the UK. That was brutal: Paul barely got any words in, and instead was largely subjected to cruel taunts that visibly made him tear up. Things also reportedly got out of hand, with some spectators throwing dangerous objects at one another. Greg Paul, Logan’s father, even got in a scuffle with a fan who punched him in the head. He is reportedly now suing Logan’s rivals for allegedly inciting the attack.
In the interview with Neistat, Paul frames the fight as a part of his redemption, to prove that you can still come back from something even if you’re literally getting punched in the face. But Paul’s last couple of weeks have seen him start to unravel. In the last press conference, for example, he storms off before the festivities are over, visibly upset at KSI’s taunts.
“It’s the new Logan Paul,” he says to Neistat. “I have no interest in bantering back and forth with someone who is the exact person that I am trying not to become, and stay away from, by degrading women, by going after my family, in a manner that is intended to harm.”
Neistat, for his part, seems unsure of whether or not giving Paul this kind of platform only ends up feeding into the machine to rehabilitate Paul’s image.
“You can’t self determine redemption,” Neistat told us last night. “Redemption can only be determined by others — it’s up to the community and others to decide whether he gets a second chance. I don’t think that’s a decision he gets to make. There are myriad ways the YouTube community supports creators — it’s what I love about it. For Logan to be back into that, he has to demonstrate that he can have a positive, meaningful impact.”
“I hope he finds a path to redemption and finds a way to be the light he wants to be.”