Do you remember the days when YouTube was nothing more than a place where your friends shared goofy clips of each other trying to reenact Jackass stunts? Of course, this was a long time before videos become profitable. A naive time in which your online presence really didn’t have much bearing on anything, other than your own entertainment – and maybe that of a handful of others who’d accidentally stumbled upon your upload.
Fast forward 10 years and YouTube is now a giant hub of commercialized content produced by clean-cut kids, adults, and animals. It is a platform that can either make or break your career – which is something that opportunist attention seekers are quickly learning.
In times gone by all you’d have to do to propel yourself into the spotlight was craftily release a homemade sex tape and hope it was good enough for people to take notice of you (here’s looking at you Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian). But today, you need to be much more creative to stand out in the sea professionally made videos which inundate YouTube on a daily basis.
Sadly, if recent news is anything to go by, the only way in which you can ‘stand out’ is by causing a scandal. Exhibiting actual talent is a waste of energy when all you have to do to hit the headlines is cause chaos and controversy. If you needed evidence of this, then look no further than Logan Paul. The 22-year-old YouTuber was the subject of a huge scandal only a few hours into the New Year after he brazenly filmed a real corpse in Japan’s ‘suicide forest’ for an alarming video released on New Year’s Eve.
That behavior in itself was alarming, but it was only made worse by Paul’s handling of the situation, which he was clearly trying to make comical. “Yo, are you alive?” he calls out at the lifeless body. “Are you f**king with us?” he continues to shout obnoxiously.
As a result of the video, which was removed from YouTube after 24 hours, YouTube cut ties with the American entertainer. This action from the site, which is owned by Google, was applauded by current users and viewers who hoped that it would prevent a similar incident from happening in the future.
However, fast-forward two days and another alarming video is being called out.
This time it comes in the form of a 54-second clip uploaded by the channel ‘Nick & Dan’, which has over 50,000 subscribers – which is small fry in comparison to Logan Paul’s 15 million followers, over one million of which were gained after his controversial video was uploaded.
The short video, titled “Me & Dan in Japan !!” was uploaded in September 2017, but it is only now coming to public attention after people on Twitter raised concerns about a stunt in the clip in which one of the men picks up a small child in a supermarket before proceeding to run off with her as she screams.
“He is a child predator and tried to kidnap a little girl in Japan. We Japanese don’t have any tolerance to his behavior,” writes one Twitter user dramatically in a message retweeted over 5,000 times. “It’s not funny at all, shame on you. Don’t come to Japan again,” writes another.
“We, Japanese, never forgive you. Don’t insult us. You’ve crossed the line,” writes another infuriated user.
Responding to the backlash, Dan Rue of ‘Nick & Dan’ tweeted: “Hope you all know this was staged with the family and the child is clearly laughing in the video.We had to edit her laugh out the end when we PRETENDED to take her. That’s all I’m saying have a blessed day. Don’t have time to argue it’s clearly a definitive conversation.”
But this explanation didn’t wash with users who still saw it as deeply disturbing. “It doesn’t matter whether this was staged or not! this is extremely f**ked up!!” writes one furious person on Twitter.
While the reaction on Twitter may seem rather over the top, it is relatively justified for natives of Japan when you consider that in the past week two videos showing Americans entering their country and posting disrespectful videos online have come to mass attention.
In fact, what is possibly more concerning about the video is the fake Japanese accents which the two YouTubers have adopted and the racially insensitive things that they say throughout.
What do you think, are people right in being angry? Or, is this some harmless fun which should just be laughed at?