Regardless of Sam Pepper’s apparent intention that his recent prank videos act as a “social experiment”, I and many other people found them to be upsetting and damaging to the YouTube Community. Lacking appropriate context and explanation establishing them as commentary or criticism, these videos (and others, for that matter) come across as either documentation of a heinous act perpetrated by Sam himself or implicit reinforcement of the idea that the activity shown in the videos is normal, funny or forgivable. It is none of those things. In portraying heinous acts as normal, funny, or forgivable, a media creator diminishes the experience of people who have personally dealt with those heinous acts. In portraying heinous acts as normal, funny, or forgivable, a media creator implies that if members of their audience were to engage in these heinous acts, they would be normal, funny, or forgivable. Furthermore, it is suggested that one could become successful by creating media which portrays heinous acts. This is what I mean when I say these videos show a fundamental disrespect to audience and to people.
I’d like to say more on the subject, especially on the subject of appropriately using media to shed light on important social issues, but I want to do it carefully, and calmly, and with nuance and I don’t feel capable of those things while we’re still in the midst of this. If, for whatever reason, you’d like to talk to me on twitter or via email or the subreddit or wherever about any of this–please do. I’m more than happy to.
From Anthony D’Angelo:
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