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YouTube Channel of the Week

This Guy Is an Expert at Trolling People with His Video Camera

An hour-long video of a man silently filming people until they burst with rage.

YouTube is probably the greatest anthropological project ever launched. It has managed to expose the multitudes of the human condition more than any other medium ever created, and allowed people to express themselves in more diverse ways than at any point in history. This weekly column is an outlet for me to share with you some undiscovered gems, as well some very well trodden gems, and discuss just what it is that makes the chosen accounts so intriguing.


WHO: Surveillance Camera Man.
WHAT: A man filming people until they get angry.
WHY SHOULD I CARE: Surveillance Camera Man only has one video. Well, two, but the one is just a video informing you of the other video. He has over 86,000 subscribers, all people hoping that one day he'll upload another video. They're like Jai Paul fans, living on a prayer, waiting for that fabled return to make their lives worth living.

Surveillance Camera Man's previous videos (there were eight of them) were taken down after his channel was found to not be in "good standing". After removing one clip in which copyrighted music is featured, they made a comeback last year. The videos were a favourite of your more underground channel communities, like LiveLeak and Daily Motion. It most probably appealed to their specialist interest of pathological trolling.

Surveillance Camera Man's 50-minute video, which has been viewed over 500,000 times (a lot less than I would have thought, to be honest), chronicles his experiment in filming people. He wanders up to them, sometimes quite closely, and films their faces without saying anything. When they inquire about his behaviour, he usually responds by saying, "Oh, I'm just taking a video," or, "You seem confused."

The people (naturally) become uncomfortable and angry at this explanation-less surveillance, sometimes prompting them to attack the cameraman, call the police on him or swear at him. He doesn't giggle, he doesn't laugh, he doesn't react – he makes no sound, no impression other than that he is filming them because he wants to.


What separates the video from the usual YouTube prank style are the reactions of the people in the first few seconds. Because SCM isn't engaging with them at all, their reactions are not common, socially constructed niceties. You approach someone with a question or query and their brains snap into a mode of pleasantries, learned reactions to learned situations. Noticing a man out of the corner of your eye watching and filming you in silence is something not a lot of people experience regularly, so the reactions are different, confused, upset. Why don't people like being filmed? What is it about this small privacy that people cling onto so much?

I don't really buy SCM (or rather, perhaps, his fanbase)'s position that he is somehow pointing the finger to CCTV culture. You don't mind being filmed by an actual surveillance camera, so why would you mind this? The difference being, of course, that CCTV is not targeted in most cases, and isn't wielded by an odd young man asking you if you're confused.

However, it would be disingenuous to say that the only thing I get from these clips is a pseuds boner about the modern human condition. They're also really funny. People getting pissed off at a mute man filming them has a great amount of satisfaction glued to it. It's probably the same part of your brain that gets satisfied when you see someone fall off a bike or fight in the street, or anything schadenfreude-ian. One man's agony is another man's comedy.


The only people who seem to not mind being filmed are a couple of drug users, one of whom offers SCM very cheap sex, which he politely declines. She dances around and chats, before walking merrily on her way. I don't think there's anything profound about this, but it's a nice moment worth mentioning if you don't get the full way through the hour-long video.

People in the comments laud it as a "great post-modern experiment", and while it is certainly post-modern, I'm sceptical as to its status of "experiment". I feel like SCM knows exactly the reactions he will provoke and who he'll provoke them from. There is surely an element of satisfaction he garners from it, dodgy or otherwise. I hope he doesn't make any more of these. They're never the same and never as good. Let these people rest, gawping in perplexity, sitting in time.


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