Sam Pepper: fake hands, fake problem
Former Big Brother UK contestant and YouTube star Sam Pepper, whose popular prank videos have gained him over a million followers, has had his ‘Fake Hand Ass Pinch Prank’ video removed after complaints from viewers.
In the video, Pepper pinches girls’ butts with a fake hand while asking them for directions. If you watch the video, you will see the girls looking bemused but mainly bored, before walking off with withering glances back to Mr Pepper. It isn’t funny, it’s not very clever, and it is surely not worth getting worked up about.
Yet before you could search for your favourite wobble-that-booty hit tune, a stream of complaints poured in. Then came the accusations from young women who had been on dates with the vlogger that he had assaulted and harassed them with his not-so-fake wandering hands. Accusations that Mr Pepper had come alarmingly close to touching a young woman’s breast on a first date were reported. Yikes.
Under the hashtag #ReportSamPepper the Twittersphere responded with outrage. Feminist YouTuber Laci Green wrote an open letter to Pepper. Co-signed by a host of well-known vloggers, Green’s letter has received more than 10,000 reblogs.
It doesn’t stop there. In a bizarre and dazzling twist, Sam Pepper then uploaded a second video. This time, it was men who were getting their glutes squeezed. You see, Sam is making a Very Important Point; his videos have a social message. ‘For those of you who aren’t as aware as you should be, women are sexually assaulted in millions of seemingly small ways’, Pepper explains to his public, in his third and final ‘reveal’ video. But, Pepper goes on, so are men. Apparently, Pepper decided to make the videos after a friend had told him he was physically and emotionally abused by his wife – men are victims, too, Pepper says, quoting a statistic that one in 10 men suffers abuse at the hands of their partners.
In the video, Pepper goes on to share that he himself has been a victim of sexual harassment. Apparently his fans grab his arse at events, and, when he tells them it makes him feel uncomfortable, they just giggle. Damn those fans.
It is, of course, ridiculous that these videos have been censored and taken offline, but it should come as no surprise. Sam Pepper clearly knew the easily offended would pounce on his innocuous, nonsense video and call for it to be scrubbed out with their cries of sexism. But the victim act always backfires. Pepper, with a statistic in hand, was able to come back and claim he was the awareness-raiser. In any case, both sides were making a pathetic attempt at moralising over a made-up problem. Partner abuse is one thing, but the claim from Pepper and his detractors that a bit of untoward butt-pinching is tantamount to abuse is ridiculous.
Let’s hope Sam Pepper goes back to doing what he does best – monotonous, juvenile pranks – and everyone else goes back to ignoring him.
Viv Regan is managing editor of spiked.
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