II. Delusions of stardom, or: You're not more famous than Brad Pitt
Logan Paul wants to be famous. That's hardly remarkable among Vine stars. They all want to be famous. And on some level, by some definition, they already are. But if fame is an alphabet spectrum, they're probably plotted closer to Z than A. Logan Paul wants to change that. Along with his buddies King Bach and DeStorm Power, Paul is thriving on YouTube, where he has over a million subscribers and 43 million views. It isn't enough. He craves real fame. Legit A-list. The 21-year-old has said, more than once and quite earnestly, that he hopes to be the biggest entertainer in the world.
Like any Hollywood climber, he's eager to act, but his early roles show just how unfavorable the exchange rate is between social media fame and fame fame. He's appeared in some small roles, including an episode of Law & Order: SVU. He also starred in a recently released YouTube Red original sci-fi horror flick called The Thinning, about an overpopulated dystopia where only the smartest survive after taking a test. The rest are… thinned. (I won't spoil the social media-heavy plot for you, but -- surprise! -- the system is rigged.)
So if YouTube is the step that comes after Vine, and acting is the step that comes after (or during?) YouTube, what does becoming the biggest entertainer in the world look like to Paul?
"It looks like Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson. Or Kevin Hart. Two guys who I respect the SH*T out of for their hustle, hard work, and unparalleled expertise and knowledge of both traditional and digital media." That was Paul's reply via email. Complete with the asterisk. He continued: "As far as what that looks like in 10 years... I literally have no idea. But I've been saying this for the past three years -- when I get there, I'll know it."
Bromides aside, Paul makes an interesting point about not knowing what the future of digital media holds, about taking care not to rely too much on any particular medium. It's a disquieting truth for some former Viners now tasked with learning a new language. There isn't a YouTube Rosetta Stone for people mainly fluent in Vine. Much of the unease is owed to obvious differences in format and the way jokes and stories are told. A six-second framework automatically streamlines (and limits) what you can do. YouTube is different in terms of possibilities and time. Getting a viewer to watch you for six seconds is exponentially easier than getting them to watch you for five minutes, much less two hours.