YouTube provocateur Logan Paul sat down with Casey Neistat for a 30-minute interview to talk about a myriad of topics, including his upcoming documentary, his headline-making behavior, and his planned boxing match with YouTuber KSI. The sit-down and the documentary are both part of Paul’s redemption tour in the aftermath of a Dec. 31, 2017 incident in which he posted a video of him encountering the body of a man who recently committed suicide in Japan’s Aokighara Forest (colloquially known as the “Suicide Forest”).
Paul said “the doc is not a documentary about how hard my life has been this year,” following the incident. Instead, he wants to focus on the story of his mindset at the time of the incident, and how it happened in the first place.
“It’s about a story of a young man from Ohio, a seemingly regular kid, falling into the social-media machine over the past four years,” Paul told Neistat. “Becoming the most hated man in the snap of a finger. The question that the doc answers is how do you recover from that? Can you recover from that?”
Neistat pushed back on Paul, asking whether or not this was a ploy designed to earn Paul sympathy from an audience that, as he said in the video, may “want me to crawl into a hole and die forever.”
“I don’t think people can, should or will sympathize with me,” Paul said. “[The documentary] is an unbiased, objective story that captures how something like that can happen. What went wrong in my life that I thought that was a good idea. I’m the one who has to look in the mirror and look at the decision, and say, ‘that was my decision.’ Up until that part of my life, it was really only wins and successes.”
Part of the documentary will focus on Paul’s mindset at the time, which is something that other YouTubers have commented on, and even sympathized with — though Paul told Neistat he didn’t want to try and victimize himself over the situation. Instead, he wanted to showcase what his day-to-day life was like leading up to him and his friends walking into the forest. Whether or not that’s true will be depending on the final product.
“Everyday we were creating a new piece of content meant to bend the limit and push it right over the edge,” Paul said. “We got so caught up in creating that we didn’t stop to think about what were were making and whether it was right. We were on autopilot, which is extremely dangerous when you’re broadcasting to an audience of five to seven million people every day. There was no thinking. It was ‘create content, create content, create content.’ There was no, ‘Take a step back and breathe.’”
There are a few more questions about Paul’s time in Japan, including whether or not he’s learned from his cultural insensitivity. It’s one of the few areas Paul pushes back on, instead of just admitting he’s wrong and wanting to move past the whole ordeal. Neistat asked Paul about how he’s tried to change since then.
“This is the hardest thing about all of this — it being perceived as culturally insensitive,” Paul said. “The [costumes worn in the video] were on sale at a store beside the temple we were at. Do we not buy the outfits? They were on sale there. Theres’ a difference between culturally insensitive and insensitive. My brand at the time was all around insensitive. That is no longer the person I’m trying to become and no longer representative of the blogs.”
Paul asked why his antics were culturally insensitive, and Neistat was happy to explain. It’s one of the few areas in the 30 minutes interview that Paul got super worked up over — and it’s one of the many reminders throughout the interview that Paul still doesn’t get exactly why so many people were upset with him in January. The video featuring him in the forest was more obvious in its erroneous behavior; his antics around Japan weren’t.
When Paul disappeared from YouTube for three weeks following the incident, he returned with a promise to be a better man and use his channel for good. That started with a mini-documentary about suicide awareness and prevention, but it quickly de-escalated into similar antics we’ve seen before. Paul tased a dead rat in one video, leading to more punishments from YouTube and even more criticism. It’s hard to take Paul seriously at his word when his actions don’t support them.
“This [documentary] is looking ahead, yes, because I said those things and then I taped a dead rat,” Paul said. “It’s hard for me cause how many times can you say one thing and then try to be a better person? I’m vegan now. I’ve got a girlfriend who’s extremely wise who helps me grow and become the person I want to become. My content is focused more on positivity.”
At a press conference for his upcoming fight with KSI, Paul showed some signs of personal growth. KSI launched into a juvenile attack on Paul, his family and his new girlfriend, actress Chloe Bennet. Paul sat mostly silent, before getting up and walking out. Multiple videos and articles analyzing the conference have been published, but Neistat wanted to know what was going through Paul’s head at the time.
“It’s the new Logan Paul,” Paul said. “I have no interest in bantering back and forth with someone who is the exact person I’m not trying to become by degrading women, by going after my family in a manner that is intended to harm. My goal here is to beat him, not talk about how I’m going to beat him or talk about his family or say what I’m going do to his girlfriend; the goal is to win a fight. I was over it as soon as I walked into the press conference.”
Paul hopes his documentary will return things to the way they were. He wants to return to making more YouTube videos and working on bigger projects, but acknowledges that his growth has stagnated since the incident. People may be willing to forgive, but they can’t forget, and that’s something Paul still doesn’t seem to realize. It’s not like wiping a hard drive and moving forward with a blank slate.
“I think Hollywood, I think America in general, they love redemption stories,” Paul said. “My life is now a story about someone who was winning, someone who self-imploded and the architect of their own destruction, and [that] struggle and vulnerability. I want to become better, I don’t want to let my mistakes define me.”
There seems to be apprehension from Neistat — and the rest of the world — over whether that’s possible.
Paul did not say when the documentary will be released.