“I give up” was the only social media post created by the YouTube prankster Sam Pepper on the morning of Feb. 22. Overnight, his Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts were deleted and all his YouTube videos were set to private.
For over a year and a half Pepper had been under fire due to two highly controversial pranks he had posted to the video sharing website. In an apology video uploaded Wednesday, Feb. 24, he explained that “I’m ashamed, I’m ashamed of what I’ve been doing and I want to start again.”
The controversy started back in September of 2014 when Pepper uploaded a prank video in which he would walk around in public and ask young women for directions. He then used a prosthetic hand to pinch their bottoms. Thousands of people including myself were disgusted by the video, especially when it was played off as a social experiment after posting the same prank done on men. In his explanation Pepper said “I wanted to do something that would highlight the difference between abuse towards a woman and abuse towards a man in a social experiment with you as unwitting participants at the heart of the experiment.”
Sexual harassment is bad enough but to make it into a joke by calling it a prank is even more sickening. He later admitted that both videos were staged and scripted. Following the backlash Pepper went quiet for a while before posting again on his channel.
One year later on Nov. 30 the video titled “Killing Best Friend Prank” was uploaded on Pepper’s channel. The prank was executed by kidnapping a guy, pretending to kill his friend and then making the guy believe that he was next. This prank was viewed over 9.3 million times and continued the growing hatred of his prank videos.
I never saw this video nor did I wish to. The idea that threatening the life of another person could have any comedic value is far beyond me and I detested the video as soon as I heard about it.
Like the butt pinching video before, this was revealed to be completely staged and scripted as well. Pepper only posted four more videos to his channel after the murder prank controversy before taking his videos down on Feb. 22.
Before Pepper posted his apologetic explanation video, I did not have a good opinion of him due to the content he put online. I hoped that in saying “I give up” he meant that he was leaving social media for good and working to become a better person.
Pepper’s video “I’m sorry” changed my opinion of him and also shows how important it is to be mindful of one’s online persona. Pepper explained that the end result he wanted was to make people laugh, get lots of views and get money. Since YouTube is his job these are all good goals to reach for, but the last two became dominant.
The problems came when he faked pranks to try to stay relevant. He explained, “all I was thinking was ‘Oh this video will be liked, people will laugh’ but I wasn’t thinking ‘Oh this guy is going to see me pinch a girl’s butt’ and probably think ‘who the heck is this creep.’”
He continued to try to cover for himself by claiming it was an experiment when he knew know he should have come clean with the truth.
After making the same mistake with the murder prank, he is trying again. Pepper has now hopefully learned from his mistakes so he can move forward. I wish him the best.