A dubious “social experiment”

A YouTube star with 2.3 million subscribers uploads a ‘prank’ video on his channel which viewers all over the world click to watch. Wearing an oversized hoodie, he walks the streets of LA and stops women in order to ask for directions. Pretending to be hiding his arms in the pockets of his jacket, he reaches out from underneath his clothes to pinch the behinds of the unsuspecting women who only meant to help him.

The reactions of the victims, who feel confused, uncomfortable, and violated, are filmed for an audience on this social media site. Does this strike you as disturbing? It should, and the fact that this is a true story becomes all the more upsetting when considering the actions of Sam Pepper this past week. When you thought the situation was bad already, it just gets worse.

While YouTube has certainly opened up new forms of interaction, there is a lingering concern related to the uploaded content. This concern is true for both those that are not so famous, and popular YouTube stars such as Sam Pepper.

After this video was uploaded, many people, understandably, were very upset. Sexual harassment is wrong, not to mention sharing it on a channel to a greater audience. A few days after the prank, Sam Pepper uploaded another video that followed the same situation as the first, but with women grabbing men’s butts this time. Apparently, the responses to the first video weren’t enough to deter him from uploading another video of the same situation.

The reactions of the victims, who feel confused, uncomfortable, and violated, are filmed for an audience on this social media site. Does this strike you as disturbing?

Instead of sincerely apologizing for the harm he had done, Pepper claims that both pranks were actually staged, and that the women were aware of what was to happen. He says he only posted the videos to spread awareness about sexual harassment and all this was a social experiment he conducted to see the responses people would have to the video. All these clips have been removed from his channel, which was temporarily taken down.

Now, you might have mixed feelings about this situation, as did the Internet. Some argue that Sam’s motivations for the ‘experiment’ were legitimate, while others affirm that it was just a cover-up story he came up with to save himself. With the widespread attention this story was receiving, especially in media outlets such as the Daily Mail, Telegraph, and BBC, more people began to realize the disturbing nature of many of his other videos.

The situation begins to become all the more perplexing when we hear the stories about from the victims. Sam Pepper has been accused of crimes such as soliciting nude photographs from a minor, groping female fans, and raping a 20-year-old woman.

Skepticism regarding Sam Pepper’s conduct, not only in the video but in relation to his personal life, has escalated into outrage, and while the long-term consequences of all this rage are still unclear, it is very likely that this YouTube star won’t be escaping this fury without some repercussions, innocent of the crimes or not.

Graded senior Sarah Santiago shared her thoughts on Pepper, saying that “Sam Pepper always takes his pranks to another level, but I find it ridiculous how he has a tendency to make fun of women or simply sexually harass them and ask people to find it normal! There’s nothing normal about touching someone like that against their will, and it makes it even worse that instead of apologizing to the women he assaulted, not only in this video, which he simply calls a ‘social experiment’ but in lots of his other pranks as well.”

This story has sparked many responses from the online community, whether it was through the letter written by Laci Green to Pepper or the trending of #ReportSamPepper on Twitter, or other forms of disapproval, or in some cases, support. As people become more passionate about the story, more attention is being directed at the issue of sexual harassment, and to what extent he abused his online fame to manipulate women.


Sources: buzzfeed.com, dailymail.co.uk, telegraph.co.uk, bbc.co.uk