By Christine Tran
It was only a few years ago when someone’s idea of a prank was to slip a whoopee cushion on a chair or “rickroll” one of their friends. In 2016, our definition of a prank has become warped due to pranksters who feel the need to reach new extremes. All of us, including pranksters, need to remember that pranks should be harmless fun, rather than potential crimes.
The rise of prank videos began in 2013 when Youtube noted that their top ten pranking creators had clocked roughly 3.5 billion views. This reign continued on to 2015, when overall prank videos accounted for 17.7 billion views, according to Tubular Labs.
Yet, as more and more pranking videos are being uploaded, the more the medium strays from its original purpose.
“The pranking genre has crossed a line and it’s gotten very fake,” said Jesse Wellens, who owns the Youtube channel PrankvsPrank with Jeana Smith, to Tubefilter, a company that curates digital entertainment media. It seems like every prank has already been done, which is why it is difficult for honest pranksters to create new, innovative pranks as old ones become redundant.
A prime example of a prank going too far was controversial Youtuber Sam Pepper’s “Killing Best Friend Prank” video. Pepper and a group of his friends kidnap fellow Youtubers Sam Golbach and Colby Brock, and then tie up Golbrach and force him to watch as Pepper pretends to shoot Brock. There are a few moments between the prank and the reveal where Golbach is in hysterics, and screaming, “’we’re just kids” and “he’s everything I have.” We, as people, should realize that these types of pranks are not funny and do not justify the potential physical and mental horrors that victims are put through.
The recent clown terror demonstrated yet another instance in which pranks were improperly used to induce fear. British Youtuber Ashley Symes decided to join in on the craze by donning a clown costume and chasing people on the street. One victim retaliated by punching Symes in the face.
The cameraman had to come out and explain that it was just a prank to prevent the victim from launching another attack on Syme, according to the DailyMail. The event goes to show how ineffective the phrase “it is just a prank” is. These words are not an acceptable excuse for cruel actions.
Pranksters need to realize that there is nothing comical about hurting people, or pretending to hurt others. Pranking videos are a great medium for comedy, but people must learn to use them more tastefully and with more thought. So hang up those clown masks, blow the dust off those whoopee cushions and get back out there.