R.I.P. to the word, ‘prank.’ It had a pretty good run! Beginning life in the 16th century as a term denoting “ludicrous trick,” it has thrived through several centuries, mostly confined to April 1st and the sets of George Clooney movies. However, the rise of YouTube has also brought on a scourge of so-called prank videos, in which attention-seekers in possession of
some talent a camera interfere with people’s lives with the aim of going viral. Advertising agencies are staging pranks for brands, and even charities, although the key word there is staging. Some of the rogue YouTuber ‘pranks’ really do promote personal violation as almost a sport, though, which is something a new anti-prank parody makes abundantly clear.
Sam Pepper is a Skrillex-haircutted former contestant on Big Brother UK, as well as a YouTuber with over two million subscribers. Fan base notwithstanding, he’s also unpopular with at least as many people. After incurring outrage for his ass-pinch ‘prank’ video, which is more or less exactly what it sounds like, Pepper has also received accusations of being perky with his fans, and being way worse than pervy as well. Now, non-pranking YouTube jokester JusReign has released a video as response to the Sam Pepper controversy, fittingly titled “The Murder Prank.”
The first minute of JusReign’s video should look familiar to anyone who regularly peruses whatever web videos are making the rounds. We see footage of the comic walking up to strangers and making innocuous conversation briefly, before something unexpected happens. In this case the unexpected thing is strangulation or a gunshot to the head. This gets old pretty quick, but what JusReign absolutely nails is the justification part of the video, where his character attempts to explain his actions.
“Before anyone freaks out that it was wrong how you murdered those people or whatever,” he says, “Just so you know, it was a social experiment, staged kind of, and some of the people were told they might get murdered. From 10 feet away, I whispered, ‘I’m gonna kill you,’ so I gave them a warning, and it’s not my fault.”
Sam Pepper, who is being directly parodied here, is not the first to hide behind the idea of social experimentation. As if that makes it okay! As if each of us, walking around trying to get through our days are lab rats to be studied for our reactions to nonsense! JusReign’s character refuses to apologize because, of course, this whole murder thing was all just to prove an important point, and not, you know to get attention for himself and for profit. Hopefully, the prank phenomenon is on its way to being as dead as the actual word–which has become distorted beyond all meaning–and as dead as the people fake-murdered in this video.