In Retrospect; Have Pranks Gone Too Far?

Pranks over the years have evolved from harmless jokes to legitimate crimes in some cases. In retrospect, how did we get to the way pranks are seen today? *trigger warning*


Kyndra Peterson, Co-Editor In Chief

Back in the nostalgic days of YouTube, many found themselves being sucked into the world of 2016 pranks. Pranks were meant to be harmless fun that gets a good laugh afterward with all parties involved. Looking back, it was a fun way to pass the time and the content creators always looked as though they were enjoying themselves which made it more enjoyable for the viewer. An example of these innocuous pranks is the prankster jumping out from around a corner and scaring the victim in a costume, or perhaps putting some salt inside of a Rice Krispy cereal box and watching their reaction when they go to eat their breakfast. Nowadays though, the word “prank” means something much different from what it used to.

Pranks began to take a turn for the worst around the start of 2017. Creators began to no longer do it for fun; to make the audience have a good laugh. Instead, the motive morphed into views, social media attention, and money. The next BIG and EXTRAVOGGANT prank had to be done to get noticed and gain popularity on the platform. Sam and Colby, a very popular friend duo to this day used to be known for their crazy and outlandish stunts. A prank uploaded titled “KILLING BEST FRIEND PRANK Ft. Sam & Colby” went way too far. Sam Pepper (A dishonorable prankster) was able to convince Colby Brock to do a “prank” on Sam Golbach. This so-called gag consisted of kidnapping Sam and throwing him into the back of a car duck-taped, with a sack over his head, and taken to the top of a building in order for Sam to watch his best friend (Colby, who was in on it) get shot in the head. During the video, Sam is seen screaming, pleading, and crying in inconsolable suffering after seeing (what he thought) was Colby getting shot. The cameraman (Sam Pepper who “shot” Colby) zooms into the pain and pure agony on the victim’s face. After a minute the dead began to walk again as he told Sam it was all a prank. On camera, Sam was very clearly distraught while screaming “What is this??” to Pepper and Colby. This was not a prank in many people’s eyes and if Sam had decided to press charges, the perpetrators would have been filming the crimes committed and posting it for the world to see. This was a very difficult video to sit through and I personally don’t recommend watching it. The video itself when looked at from a wrong or right, black or white perspective is truly wrong and disgusting. For public entertainment, things were taken way too far.

Let’s face the truth, fame isn’t worth the danger and bad situations that most pranksters put themselves in. People in genuine fear are liable to act irrationally and harm pranksters in self-defense unaware of the “joke”. A few years ago if a clown walked around a corner with what was thought to be a weapon (real or not) you would be fearful for your life and your first thought would not be “Oh this is a prank!” It would be to run or act in self-defense with your own weapon or legs to run for your life; an experience nobody wants to have. Another example of just how dangerous these gags can be is when titles like “Stealing Gas From Cars in the Hood” are uploaded and showcases the rascals going around and as the title states, stealing gas from cars and being ruthlessly chased by people who have just been stolen from. If you were being stolen from, who wouldn’t act in the moment? Not only does this put you in harm’s way but also the prankster who although doing it as a “joke” is still definitely in the wrong stealing. Yelling “IT’S A PRANK” won’t help the situation and blind rage witnessed in these videos and experienced by the victims.

Pranks in recent times have been evolving into excuses to engage in sexual harassment towards customer service workers. These public unwanted believed to be sexual advances are NOT pranks in the eyes of the victim, the person who is actually having to experience the acts. A case in which this has occurred can be found on YouTube and involves a Starbucks employee and a man as he goes in and orders; a daily normal interaction for the worker. The day for her however dramatically changed when the man started to pretend to masturbate in front of her and make sexual remarks in the middle of a Starbucks making the female worker heavily uncomfortable. Writing this off as a prank simply isn’t proper justice. Even if it was the original intention of the “prankster”, a prank is not how the situation ended up. It was a real thing that was experienced by someone. If this persists, what is to stop a pedophile and more sexual assaults from happening and being labeled as a prank to defend against these disgusting acts?

Pranks have evolved into crimes to try to get more popularity and clout. If what’s happening isn’t already too far, then what will be? The loss of lives? Severe injuries? When do they start to affect children if not already? Traumatizing events labeled as pranks, What a way to “justify” the things other people have wrongfully experienced. Pranks were a tool to have harmless fun, it’s crazy to see them go to these lengths.

Pranks have gone TOO FAR!