Editor’s Note: Ranier Maningding is a copywriter and mastermind behind the social justice page “The Love Life of an Asian Guy“. The opinions expressed in this piece are solely his own.
When I was a junior in high school I was heavily influenced by Asian YouTubers because they gave me something I never had before: confidence in my ethnicity.
Before Asian YouTube, my levels of self-hate and internalized racism were real. I hated how my skin could darken after a half-day out in the sun, I thought my eyes were “chinky,” my nose too wide, and hair too straight. But then I saw dudes like Timothy DeLaGhetto, Gabe Bondoc, Passion, MyChonny and Ice1Cube who looked and talked like me and I was intrigued with this new form of representation. I felt amazing.
“Oh fuck, Gabe Bondoc probably gets hella girls and he has a nose just like me. I guess this wide nose shit ain’t so bad!”
“Damn, KevJumba is also into interracial dating? Me too, dude!”
Soon after I discovered Asian Youtube I bought my first electric guitar for $60 with saved lunch money, I taught myself how to read guitar tabs, and I enrolled in singing and salsa dancing lessons. I wanted to be a YouTube star just like Bondoc, Passion and Jr Aquino.
Unfortunately, unlike most Filipinos who can actually sing, dance, and play instruments, I’m garbage at all three and I have the musicality of a russet potato. As I reflect back on that ambitious 17-year-old me, I understand exactly what I was doing: I was learning how to “become” an Asian-American. I was learning how to perform Asianness.
Like masculinity, race can also be a performance. Stemming from my desire to fit-in, I imitated Asian Youtubers because I thought, “If they’re receiving praise and recognition despite negative Asian stereotypes, then they must be doing something right!”
Equal and positive ethnic representation is beautifully effective at impregnating young minds with positivity that would otherwise never exist in mainstream white media. But if you compare the starpower, recognition and money of veteran Asian YouTubers like Gabe Bondoc and MyChonny to someone like Logan Paul, it’s not even a contest.
It is a fact of life that everything in America is more accessible when you’re like Logan Paul: young, rich as fuck, “attractive” (even though Logan Paul looks like a pink Mission tortilla chip with eyes) and White.
Logan Paul is living a life so extravagantly annoying I wouldn’t be a surprise if Elon Musk popped out of a solar-powered bush and revealed that Logan Paul was actually an A.I. robot designed by Tesla to teach society that it’s possible to reach a new level of annoying.
White kids and teenagers around the country who are still young and learning what it means to be White are watching Logan Paul and they’re taking notes. They’re learning how to be White and what behaviors, phrases, and activities make you White. Being a cringey White millennial isn’t just about pumpkin spiced lattes, doing viral dances out-of-rhythm, and skateboarding. Whiteness is also a mindset that preaches an indifference to other races and Logan Paul is standing behind the altar giving it his all.
Do I think Logan Paul’s suicide forest video will inspire copycat videos in Aokigahara? Probably not since most people can’t afford to jet-set to Japan just to shoot a shitty YouTube video, but I am concerned.
I’m concerned because the success of Paul’s suicide video incentivizes White youth to follow a popular, dangerous trend in White American media, social and racial politics: the more offensive I am the better.
You can see this trend in racist “in the hood” prank videos and in far-right meme culture. I call this trend “Trump Brain” since this branch of White supremacist mentality helped skyrocket Trump into the White House. The more I think about it, the more I notice how many White entertainers – Nicole Arbour, Logan Paul, Milo Yiannapoulous, Anne Coulter – base their entire shtick on being as culturally and racially offensive as possible.
I find all of this ironic as fuck since White people continue to ask the country, “It’s okay to be White!” while they simultaneously find new and inventive ways to fuck with people of color. And for what? Because you get a rise out of triggering us? At this point I’m half-expecting to log onto Twitter one day to see some next-next level bullshit.
“Hey Twitter, it’s your boy Logan Paul and I’m going to shart on the Dalai Lama’s head, kick him to the ground, then I’m gonna dab on him! Watch me on YouTube live and tell me your favorite Asian stereotype in the comment section! Wooo! #Logang”
Instead of being punished for his fucked up video, Logan Paul was rewarded with more subscribers. If Logan Paul can gain social media notoriety by showing a real dead body on YouTube to 6 million eyeballs, then so can Beckany Juice-Cleanse and Dylan Farnum from Algebra 1 class. Maybe if they do something just as outrageously offensive they too can be live the extravagant lifestyle like Logan Paul.
And Logan Paul isn’t even the originator of White shock comedy either. Johnny Knoxville, Kenny Hotz, and Tom Green did it years prior, but their TV shows appeared on television where producers and executives could at least filter out certain content.
That’s not the case with Paul. YouTube allows creators to post whatever shitty videos they want. So now, instead of White youth watching shock comedy that has been slightly filtered out and heavily edited by MTV, the kids of White America are watching amateur White entertainers on YouTube like Logan and Jake Paul, taking notes, and imitating their unfiltered version of what it means to act White.
There are no PG-13 or NC17 ratings on Logan Paul’s videos so White kids will continue to think they’re watching wholesome, fun, and appropriate content not realizing they’re internalizing content with deeply racist views. In the world of viral online comedy, Logan Paul didn’t just raise the bar for offensive YouTube content, he established a new starting point that White children around the country will constantly strive to surpass.