I’m 18 years old, and my sister—let’s call her Kylie—is 12. Kylie has always been a fan of the Paul brothers—I think you can probably guess where this is going.
I usually don’t care about my sister’s interests, even if her taste in YouTubers is different from mine. However, after Logan Paul uploaded that disgusting video from the Suicide Forest, Kylie not only remained a fan of him but also defended him when he came under fire for the video. I told her that it’s okay to say that she doesn’t like him anymore, but she says she doesn’t have a problem with him and that others shouldn’t.
I wonder if she’s in denial about having an important figure of hers shattered, but she keeps insisting that Logan’s actions are excusable. When she showed me the “apologies” he made, I tried to teach her the difference between a non-apology and a real apology, but she won’t listen to me. I also asked her how she thinks the family of the guy who committed suicide felt about the video, and told her about the time a friend’s family member committed suicide, but she keeps saying it’s “no big deal.”
It’s one thing to like a person others don’t like, but it’s another thing to excuse others’ bad behavior. I also looked at Logan’s other Japan vlogs where he’s very rude and disrespectful to the Japanese people (blocking traffic, throwing things at policemen, etc). Is my sister going to be learning this behavior from him? How do I make her understand why his actions are wrong?
That’s gonna be tough, Sparkler, for reasons we’ll get to in a second. But hey, if you want to dissuade your sister from her continued interest in Logan Paul? Then a good first step would be to stop doing your best impression of a scandalized granny, and lecturing her over and over about how he’s rude, disrespectful, and badly behaved—because dude, she knows. You realize this, don’t you? That’s why she likes him! That’s his brand! Rude and disrespectful are like catnip to the tiny edgelord wannabes who make up Paul’s fanbase (and the fanbases of so many teen bad-boy icons before him). Your distaste for him is just part of that appeal.
So when you clutch your pearls and purse your lips and make noises about how her continued support of Logan Paul is excusing bad behavior, all you are doing is cementing the guy’s status, in your sister’s eyes, as the coolest dude ever to live.
And since that is presumably the opposite of what you want to accomplish, now would be a good time to back off and let her find her own way—while also reminding yourself that the fandoms she belongs to at the age of twelve are in no way a predictor of what kind of person your sister (or anyone else) will become. Your sis is not going to start throwing things at policemen or disrespecting the dead just because she watched someone do it on YouTube, anymore than kids of my generation started snorting clumps of wasabi or bungee-jumping inside a porta-potty full of pig manure because the Jackass gang was doing it (although man, did we get some hilariously stern lectures at the time from very clueless adults who seemed not to grasp the difference between a role model and a stuntman). The entertainment value of a performance like that, or an internet presence like Logan Paul’s, stems directly from the fact that 99.99999% of people would never do the stuff they’re seeing onscreen. They watch to be horrified. They watch to be shocked. They watch because OMG, they can’t believe he WENT THERE.
And on that note, yes, some people (like your sis, but she’s certainly not alone) are willing to give a pass to the guy whose entire brand is Shocking Dumbass Behavior when he edges over the line into Shocking Dumbass Behavior PLUS. Are they wrong? Eh, maybe—but maybe the problem is more that they’re consistent, in a way that exposes uncomfortable truths about the arbitrary lines we all draw to police other people’s moral no-go zones, which have a way of conveniently falling in places we never would’ve gone anyway. Of all the people who came out against Logan Paul, how many were really risking anything by denouncing him? How many, like you, were just joining in the pile-on against someone they already found distasteful to begin with? How eager would they (and you) be by comparison if the target du jour was someone they liked, and were more inclined to be charitable with?
To be clear, I’m not accusing you of anything. Maybe you’re even one of those people who purges your libraries and donates to charity every time a creator you like makes a misstep. But reasonable people can disagree about where they draw those lines, and about what kinds of foibles they’re willing to forgive in their preferred entertainers—just as reasonable people can disagree on whether Logan Paul did enough to make amends for the mistake he made. (I mean, I didn’t even know who the guy was prior to this controversy, but his apology seems perfectly fine to me). And if it didn’t lead to substantive change in the aftermath…well, from a man who has a multi-million-dollar stake in continuing to be exactly as stupid and boundary-pushing as he can get away with, that’s hardly surprising.
Meanwhile, all of this is stuff you can talk about with your sister—but in the form of a conversation, please, not a sanctimonious lecture in which you try to “teach” her that her opinions are wrong. (And since you’ve already beaten this particular scandal into the ground, you might want to wait awhile and for a new/better opportunity to broach the subject.) After all, how to engage with the work of artists who behave badly, let alone for whom bad behavior is their entire brand, is something human beings have wrestled with constantly over the course of our history, and will continue to wrestle with well into the future. It’s not a question that invites easy conclusions. So instead of telling Sis how she should feel, why not ask her what she thinks? Giving someone the chance to explain her perspective may not change her mind, but it does mean she’ll have to think it through. And hey, maybe she’ll surprise you by giving you something to think about, too.
Got something to say? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.