A successful idiot • Studio magazine

Law & Order, one of the longest-running and most successful series, to the point of creating a franchise, can count a long list of guest stars who over the seasons play criminals or witnesses; like Philip Seymour Hoffman as a drug dealer defended by a lawyer played Samuel L. Jackson, or Julia Roberts as an event planner in a ’99 episode. The spin-off Special Victims Unit has followed this tradition, extolling even more the frequency of Oscars and Hollywood icons, from Angela Lansbury to Alec Baldwin, from Robin Williams to Chloe Sevigny. The star of a 2015 episode is Logan Paul, then at the beginning of his fame as internet personality. The year before, he had dropped out of college – engineering at Ohio University – to devote himself to his YouTube videos, moving to Los Angeles. That year, before Law & Orderhis followers from a few hundred thousand passed, joining all social platforms, to a few million and, in 2015, Paul was placed in tenth place in the top ten of the most influential personalities on Vine. Business Insider published an article entitled “Logan Paul has conquered the internet, but he has not yet figured out how to conquer the world”.

The golden years of YouTube had just passed (2008-2011), on social media the editorial and advertising side of the posts began their deadly embrace, but it was still the world of the internet before the “content creators” and it still existed, if not a substance, an artisanal semblance of the uploaded videos (wave which then returned with TikTok). Paul’s first vines, with a comic attempt, last a few seconds, and are almost always at the expense of strangers: he who gets into random cars with people behind the wheel, who plays the monkey in the subway, or who makes fun of someone by pretending to make a nature documentary “here you can see an example of a boy in friend zone“. In most cases he is bare-chested, and shows hairless and sculpted abs performing acrobatics with humorous ambitions. In the categorization from Breakfast Club, Logan Paul is the jock, the sportsman, the winner, the very blond American who goes to the gym, has always won it, laughs at the “losers” and always has fun. Logan’s presence in 2015 in a primetime series such as Law & Order – where he ends up killed at the end of the episode demonstrates that self-made internet personalities could become truly pop, that is, come out of the bubble of their own fandom, thus reaching the level and means of visibility of veteran award-winning actors. Emerge from YouTube and get to TV. But it also demonstrates the rapidity of notoriety that these means allowed, if you think that Paul’s first videos are from September 2013. In two years he goes from playing pranks in his free time to a true emblem of fame, immediately entering the terrain of mainstream visibility – just like a Bradley Cooper or a Sarah Paulson, or faces that have marked generations, such as Henry Winkler (Fonzie) or James Van Der Beek (Dawson of Dawson’s Creek).

Logan Paul is attractive, according to some newspapers, for his good looks – most of his followers are girls, they write – but also for what some would call a “slap face”, that is, an inability, at least apparent, to feel. sense of guilt, of not being able to empathize with others or to respect the authorities. The charm of the anarchic and chaotic high school bully who becomes a millionaire. In a 2017 video shot in Venice he offers his brother $ 5,000 to throw himself into the San Marco basin, and to get the money back he undresses and dives too while the Marco Polo bookseller yells at him: “It’s forbidden, it’s illegal “. “Did you call the police?” Well, ask them if they want to join the LoGang, ”he says (the LoGangs are his followers). Then he goes back to the Danieli in his underwear, laughing. In Japan, dressed as Pikachu, he had thrown a plush Poké Ball at a policeman – every trip abroad is punctuated by very superficial stereotype jokes. This anti-empathic attitude was taken to its limits when he posted a video from the suicide forest at the foot of Mount Fuji showing a dead body hanging from a tree while he wore a funny hat depicting the alien from. Toy Story. There had been a shitstorm that cost him a place in a movie, he apologized, he donated a million to suicide prevention organizations, and he hired a marketing manager to avoid things like that in the future. His trajectory towards a wider audience was only at the beginning, precisely because his path, always adhering to the Zeitgeist, has always been made to adapt and model himself on new springboards towards stardom. “I want to be the greatest entertainer in the world”, he said in an interview in 2015. “And I’ll do whatever it takes to get there. I will work tirelessly ». He managed to come out the winner even after several criticisms from animal rights activists – there are videos of electrified rats with a taser and fish pulled out of the aquarium to “save them” with mouth to mouth – and from the LGBTQ + community when he decided to “Become” gay for a month.

Today, nearly seven years have passed since the episode of Law & OrderLogan Paul is positioned by Forbes only at number nine among the highest-paid YouTubers – his brother Jake, who followed in his footsteps, starting right in his videos, is second. He still takes hundreds of thousands of dollars a post, but it is with wrestling and boxing that he has at one point found a new way to rise to the fore. After brief appearances on the musical talent show The Masked Singer, announced that he would challenge boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., former gold medalist at the Olympics – an event that had over a million spectators in pay-per-view alone. The web boy versus a pro. In wrestling he also fought against a seasoned participant like Rey Mysterio and the WWE stage was also an opportunity to show his bling, to exhibit his crazy expenses that enhance the character. At WrestleMania he presented himself with the most expensive Pokémon card in the world around his neck, bought by a collector in Como for over $ 5 million (a holographic Illustrator Pikachu), and with which he also entered the Guinness Book of World Records.

Logan Paul wearing his Charizard Pokémon card, before the match against Floyd Mayweather on June 6, 2021 (Photo by Cliff Hawkins / Getty Images)

Logan Paul also jumped on two of the great contemporary floats: podcasts and cryptocurrencies. On his podcast, ImPaulsive, last year he hosted Mike Tyson, who ate four grams of hallucinogenic mushrooms, after smoking a joint, and then started playing with pigeons. On the crypto front, on the other hand, he has bought millions of cryptocurrencies and NFT for years, launching his own project called “99 Originals” in April, consisting of Polaroids that he shot around the world. “I wanted to create something timeless, that would show who I am behind the camera,” he said in a video. He has also launched a Gatorade-like beverage brand, Prime, and a storage service for very rare trading cards. All the hyper-contemporary trends, which also become a source of income and further fuel to stardom, we are sure that they will be ridden by Logan Paul. It is no different if you think of Donald Trump’s parable, albeit still anchored in twentieth-century entrepreneurial tics: steaks, Trump University, wrestling, books to get rich … And in fact, Logan Paul, now 27, announced in February that when he turns 35, the minimum age required by the Constitution, he will probably run for the presidency of the United States.

Talent, YouTube, Pokémon, Nft … Logan Paul is a prime example of vitalism possible in our century, of that physical expression of vitality, exuberant and without moral restraints, soaked in capitalism and governed by the virality of content. There is something D’Annunzio but adapted to today’s devices and oriented towards accumulation. Walter Siti, in his 2020 novel, Nature is innocent, he wrote: «Vitalism serves to exempt itself from defects and justice, it has nothing to do with life and is the other side of nihilism. Nothing is worse than culture which disguises itself as nature to avoid paying duties, as if the pleasure of living “like ten thousand” or two hundred percent legitimizes every choice ».

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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