In a video posted on Monday, Pepper engages in the prank of the century, which is, namely, simulating a kidnapping. He does this with two other guys, Sam and Colby of the channel 'Sam and Colby,' who have a pitiful 120,000 subscribers. One of them is not in on it—that's Sam (not Pepper, but the other one, we will refer to as Kidnap Sam from here on).
The scene begins with that classic horror trope, the broken-down car. As Kidnap Sam and Colby assess the problem, Sam Pepper emerges from the shadows, a move I'm sure he's used to, and places a bag over Kidnap Sam's head. Colby pretends to be thrashing around and tussling with the assailants while Pepper wrestles him to the ground. Then they both tape up Kidnap Sam and bundle him into the boot. Cut to the next scene, on a balcony with a lovely backdrop of what I assume to be downtown LA, and Sam and Colby have managed to strap Kidnap Sam to a chair. They whip off his hood. He screams and tries to escape while Pepper plants a 'bullet' in the skull of Kidnap Sam's best mate. He screams, he cries, Colby gets up and reassures him, everyone hugs and there we have it. People decry it on the comments, then forget about it a week later, and the world spins around evermore.
Recently Australian vlogger Adrian Gee came under fire for his 'social experiment' entitled "The Real Blind Man Honesty Test". In it, Adrian pretends he's blind and asks 'strangers' for change for a $5 note, but, here's the twist, it's a $50 note! Oh no, moral quandary alert! What are the smelly, metal-band-vest-wearing public going to do with this one? Naturally they all swindle the blind man and take the pinkie. Gee them informs them that it's all part of his elaborate scheme to show up the selfishness of modern man, and teach us a lesson on how we shouldn't be stealing from people who quite literally can't see what they're doing.
But TV station Channel Seven's program Today Tonight ran an exposé on Gee and his video, with the whistleblower being one of the actors featured in the video. The journalist for Today Tonight was unimpressed with Gee's cynical attempt at garnering views and building a career on a hoax, branding him a fraudster and shouting at him a lot. While I don't think what young Adrian did is the crime of the century, it's certainly indicative of how desperate these would-be celebrities are to gain their fame using tried and tested methods.
There's no doubt that among the litany of (mostly) men trying to appear deep by tricking the public into being cunts, there are some that are real. But these will be your low-level gags, like asking people to spell 'ATTIC' out loud, or pretending they've broken your leg when they bump into you lightly.
Anything involving incrimination or real anguish, though, and I immediately assume it's fake. In Jackass 2, the second feature length from Knoxville and co, whipping boy Ehren McGhehey has pubes stuck to his faced and is dressed up like a 'terrorist' (ie dons brownface and has sticks of dynamite strapped around his waist) and to troll a taxi driver into thinking he's going to blow something up. The driver, who was in on it, pulled a gun, forcing McGhehey into the boot. McGhehey wasn't screaming or crying; his reaction was more, 'oh fuck,' even when he thought former professional skater and HIM fan Bam Margera had been shot dead. He gets out, says "You guys are dicks" and becomes more concerned with the pubes that are stuck to his face.
Now let's return to the Sam Pepper video. How much of a fight does Kidnap Sam put up here? It would appear to be substantial, but really he's just juddering his legs around while Sam fucking Pepper, hardly a bloke with the physique of an Icelandic strongman, pins him to the floor and duct-tapes his arms and legs. They make their getaway in the same car that has supposedly broken down.
Moving on to the execution scene, Kidnap Sam is just screaming and wailing. He keeps pleading with Pepper not to kill his best friend, saying "He's all I've got!" Now, call me a cynical Sally, but doesn't that sound like something a hysterical character in Homeland or whatever would say in the same situation? Also, how did they get him in that chair? What happened in the intervening time? The whole thing fucking stinks of Pepper's brand of paying people to facilitate him being a total asshole on camera (after the subsequent outcry, he claimed the notorious 'Fake Hand-Ass Pinch Prank' was "staged and scripted").
Whether it's real or not, a question must be asked at this stage: will anything be believable ever again? YouTube was meant to be a dip into reality, away from the silver screen and its production companies and editing suites full of liars and charlatans. But the biggest wankers online have discovered the techniques of the TV magic-makers and are emulating them with a lowered production value and less thought. Also, at least when TV did it, they made it work. Did some guy actually prank his wife into thinking he'd set their child on fire? Wake up sheeple!
You get the sense that most people who watch this stuff know that something is off, but to reinforce their own ideals and beliefs they'll watch some actors fuck over a blind man, or a kindly millionaire give a whole pizza to a man who has no family, prospects or health. It's propaganda without an aim. It's emotional propaganda reminding you of basal truths; that you think giving to the needy is good and pretending to kill your mates for banter is not good.
Once again Pepper is eked into the limelight and, once again, it's for something horrible he hasn't really done. His street harassment video was completely heinous, but it wasn't real—he didn't actually do that. I think it's the same here: he and his actor mates try and show off their chops to try and get picked up by a studio for a bit part role in a Netflix Original series about a lesser-known Marvel character. It's self-serving, it's fake, and it's crap. Let's get back to reality guys, like Big Brother and Britain's Got Talent. No actors in those. No siree.
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