KSI and Logan Paul boxing fight left a sour taste

The Meming of Life: #KSIvLogan may have been a success, but the taunting and cash-squeezing may mean we’ve all lost

 

It seems most weeks now we are forced to grind our faces into the weeping sore of YouTube celebrity and ask ourselves what Logan Paul is doing now. Nearly a year since he was thought to have destroyed his career by uploading footage of a Japanese suicide victim, he still appears supernaturally capable of dominating headlines, and remains one of the most beloved and popular personalities on Earth.

Paul – who looks like an over-exposed photograph of Owen Wilson, on which someone has hastily scribbled a replacement face in biro – returned this week with #KSIvLogan, a landmark boxing match between him and another huge YouTuber. Said opponent, the UK’s KSI, is a similarly big deal, with 19 million followers (to Paul’s 18 million), although his appeal depends on your tolerance for Fifa and loud laughing. Both have a very young fanbase, which means the orbit of their boxing match, and the squalid mock-beef that’s surrounded it, has left a sour taste in many mouths.

Paul and KSI’s success is in creating high school cliques of cool kids into which anyone can belong, provided you’re in on the right jokes, wearing the right gear and sufficiently chill to hang (which translates as watching the videos to get the jokes and buying the merch to have the right gear).

Expensive tat This gear is no small thing, since Paul’s affinity for slinging merchandise

– or “MERCH!” as he so fondly terms it in the screamed inducements with which he opens most videos – has already courted opprobrium from those who suggest aggressively upselling expensive tat to children is, at best, unseemly. The items in question are nearly always his brand of backpacks, nearly always offered as part of some sort of awesome sale, and nearly always morbidly hideous to look at.

War of words

While rinsing cash out of children is a bad look for men in their mid-20s, squeezing it from them by beating up another man is likely worse, and the stage-managed war of words that went before the bout was less edifying still. This consisted mostly of artlessly remedial taunting, but occasionally ventured into the realm of homophobic and sexist slurs – again, all concocted for, and broadcast to, the rabid excitement of children.

In the end, the fight drew 18,000 spectators to the Manchester Arena, and more than 800,000 via YouTube PPV, where each viewer paid £7.50 (€8.34) for the privilege, presumably biting somewhat into their weekly backpack budgets. After months of hype and six rounds of fighting, #KSIvLogan ended with a draw, although the massive success of this venture, and the less than savoury means with which it was achieved, may well mean we’ve all lost.

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