Thursday 27 October 2016

OPINION: Can we all stop using homeless people and women to 'go viral', please?

Published 23/11/2015 | 13:18

There is nothing more infuriating, as a content creator, than the influx of 'same' content online, over and over again.

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Well, there is one thing more infuriating - Seeing women and homeless people shamelessly exploited for money, which they won't see a penny of.

As a woman, I have tried to explain to some young, male content creators (and I have yet to see one of these 'social experiments' carried out by a female YouTuber) why 'chatting up women' or 'picking up women' are not appropriate content ideas and why they shouldn't be making them.

Idiotic arguments often include "raising awareness" (like the guy who spiked women's drinks to "raise awareness" of how easy it is - sorry, of how women should be more careful) and "it's not for the views, it's just for fun and if people watch, then great".

I would put my life savings that if these videos were only getting three views each that suddenly there would be a hell of a lot less of these people creating this awful and unfunny content.

Where it gets really upsetting is when homeless people are brought into it. While a number of these "social experiments" have crossed the line, in my opinion, a large number of videos have begun to use homeless people in a heartless and cruel manner.

Read more: F*ck the poor? - Social Experiment  

One 'prankster' conducted the 'homeless test', where he tested how generous the homeless were by asking them for their money so he could buy a sandwich. Another asked homeless people to share their food, and one even got a homeless man to give him their shoes. In each case, if the homeless person reacts in a 'generous' manner they are rewarded, usually with a insignificant sum of $20.

Considering each of these YouTubers stand to make between $2,000 and $5,000 per million hits, giving $20 to the source of your 'virality' seems pretty mean-spirited to me.

A few years ago I wrote a blog slamming the sexualised breast cancer campaigns where these 'pranksters' offered money to charity - but would only donate if strange women let them 'motorboat' them. Now both men and women are being exploited in order to create shock value content, like paying an actress to stand and get groped on the subway to "raise awareness".

Read more: OPINION: Why this 'motorboating for breast cancer' video is the worst idea ever  

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In many of the 'prank' videos involving women, the girls appear to be accidental participants - unaware they're being filmed for the internet. Where the videos involve giving money or food to homeless people, some may say this was a good deed - but it's not truly altruistic if it's being recorded with the intention to share online. A true good deed does not need thousands of people's approval - or the click money from Google Adsense.

Last week, Australian prankster Adrian Gee was called out on live television for faking his 'blind man honesty test' video. He was accused of creating the video using actors who then claimed they were unaware the video would be represented as real, with many upset that millions of people thought they had really taken money from a blind man.

Philip DeFranco of the DeFranco Show and SourceFed channels on YouTube, spoke out about the segment and called out a number of other channels who he claimed fake their pranks. The video was flagged for copyright for use of the prankster's images and taken down from YouTube, to which he tweeted "is that how you're going to play it?"

Prankster Roman Atwood has put his poor partner through the ringer with his series of pranks, where he pretends to kill their child on a semi-regular basis. His pranks 'I cheated', 'Killing my own kid prank' and 'Blowing up my kid prank' have amassed 72m, 37m and 18m hits respectively.

Read more: Video: Cruellest practical joke ever? Dad pretends his son is blown up on quad bike  

Sam Pepper caused uproar in 2014 when his 'ass pinch prank' crossed the line. The video was removed by YouTube and Pepper endured a storm of backlash for the following months. However, he is back making prank videos on YouTube including "Getting Girls' numbers with a drone", "Getting girls' numbers with a toy phone" and"Famewhore prank".

Read more: 'Ass pinch' prank on YouTube causes online outrage  

The problem lies, ultimately, with the popularity of these videos. If three million people are watching Sam Pepper get a girl's number by telling her how many Instagram followers he has and then shaming her for it ('Instawhore prank'), then boys like Pepper are going to continue to make that kind of content and try to replicate that success. Whether people are watching in disgust or delight - they're watching. And that means they'll keep making them, as long as they keep getting hits.

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