Before we begin, let’s quickly recap the situation, shall we:
Last weekend Sam Pepper, a popular British YouTuber that’s currently residing in the U.S., uploaded a video where he supposedly “pranks” young women on the streets of Los Angeles by sexually assaulting them. Pepper wears an oversize hoodie to hide his hands while pinches six women’s butts, pretending someone else did it.
The video was met with a rather predictable firestorm of outrage that led to international media attention from the likes of the BBC, CNN, and HuffPo before being taken down by YouTube for violating their rules against “nudity, pornography, or sexually provocative content.”
Just as the negative reaction reached its peak, Pepper uploaded another similar video featuring one of his female friends pinching men’s rear ends, and (for the first time) suggesting the video was the second installment of a three-part series.
The video was met with a similar response before being removed from YouTube for the same reason as the first. It also piqued people’s interest about the content of the third video in the series. Well…
This morning, Sam Pepper revealed that his “prank” was actually a scripted social experiment intended to incite thought and discussion about society’s perception of physical and sexual assault against men. If you care, you can watch Pepper read a weak and downright patronizing “justification” for his actions from a script he clearly didn’t write in the video below:
While I have to tip my hat at his Management’s efforts to save their client’s reputation, his backpedalling only engendered a single thought in my mind: What a f**king liar!
It’s almost poetic that the strongest proof of Sam’s deception came from one of his closest YouTube friends Marius Listhrop, better known as Mazzi ‘The guy with the white chin’ Maz.
“When I saw it, I called him straight away and was like bro, are you feeling OK?,” Maz told BBC Newsbeat before explaining that Sam told him he didn’t think the video would blow up like it did.
This is the key statement here. Sam claims he was hoping people would be outraged so the video would go viral and highlight his ’cause.’ Pretty much the opposite of everything Maz said in his interview. Even after speaking to Sam about his video, Maz said: “We are meant to push the boundaries but you need to know what’s right and what’s wrong… A sexual predator isn’t a good look.”
Clearly there’s more going on here than meets the eye. But, for argument’s sake, let’s say Sam is telling the truth and all the girls in the video are actresses. If that’s the case, you also have to consider the difference between consent and informed consent.
Sam Pepper is signed to an MCN, Collective Digital Studios, that works with many of the biggest pranksters on YouTube – Including Vitaly Zdorovetskiy (VitalyzdTv) and Roman Atwood. Both Vitaly and Roman have openly admitted that some of their pranks are staged with both paid and unpaid actors, so it’s not unlikely that Sam would use the same methods occasionally.
However, in many ways, it’s just as bad (if not worse) that Sam got these women to appear in his video without giving them the information they need to give informed consent. Without that, it means Sam technically still sexually assaulted these women by touching them inappropriately without their permission.
Update:- It appears the first woman to appear in the video has publicly confirmed Sam didn’t tell them what would happen in the video:
But even if we ignore all the evidence that proves, unequivocally, that parts two and three of his series serve as a paltry attempt to save what little is left of his reputation, I don’t understand how someone like Sam could even begin to entertain the idea that he could seize the moral high ground on an issue as sensitive as sexual assault.
While he didn’t receive the same level of publicity as people like Alex Day, Pepper was implicated in the recent series of sexual assault allegations that shocked the entire YouTube community. While I must make it clear that he is innocent until proven guilty, and I have personally seen him go out of his way to meet and take pictures with fans, there are countless stories, photos, and videos of Sam treating his fans horrendously, and he’s notorious for such behavior in some circles.
Among other things, he has been accused of sexually harassing fans a YouTube conventions, sending offensive messages to fan’s friends/family members, asking fans to send nude/semi-nude pictures, and sending sexually suggestive messages to fans.
Since his ‘reveal’ video, more fans and YouTubers than ever before have come forward detailing incidences of abuse and harassment Pepper’s part during conventions like VidCon in Los Angeles and Summer In The City in London.
seething with anger. a hypocrite and a fool. I used to think he was a good kid. So disappointed. pic.twitter.com/DiyvCJUBDT
Jazza John (@JazzaJohn) September 23, 2014
Im getting private messages from girls formerly involved w/assaulted by Sam. HELP D:
Laci Green (@gogreen18) September 23, 2014
The greatest lesson here is that you cannot highlight injustice by becoming one of the highest profile perpetrators of the very injustice you claim to stand against. Abuse against men is a very serious issue and it clearly doesn’t get the attention it deserves. But Sam’s bastardization of this very real issue is nothing short of disgusting. Claiming it’ a “social experiment” after the s**t has hit the fan cannot excuse what Sam has done.
In his video, Sam even had the audacity to claim: “I’m happy that I live in a society where the honor of a woman is protected at all costs.”
I’m not sure what world he’s living in, but to quote the wise words of Laci Green unfortunately his egregious actions only prove that we live in a world where sexual assault is “not only funny, but profitable.”
We should really do something about that…