posted by Benedict Townsend

What if all three pranksters were in on it?

There’s a certain ‘prank’ video by a certain ‘YouTuber’ that’s been making headlines lately. In case you (somehow) missed it, perennially controversial YouTuber Sam Pepper recently released a video in which he staged a fake kidnapping (which is actually still a real kidnapping, but we’ll get back to that) of a Vine prankster and then pretended to murder his best friend in front of him.

You know, that classic prank that we all love having a good chuckle about.

We’ve taken the decision not give Mr Pepper any more video views for his obviously controversy-baiting video, so if you haven’t seen it yet, this should sum it up for you:

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Yah. Pretty horrible. Trust us, it’s not worth watching it in full. 

Here’s the thing, though: With something this produced, this controversial and this perfect (in terms of how everything went off according to plan), the question has be asked: was this all just faked?

Let’s explore five arguments that might suggest the entire Pepper team were in on the act:

1. The Victim Didn’t Try To Escape Like, At All

This problem was pointed out brilliantly by the ever-awesome h3h3Productions, a channel that specialises in breaking down prank videos. Their arguably most compelling point is all about the victim’s behaviour when he is ‘kidnapped’. They ask why, when he is grabbed from behind, he does this with his arms:


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What…what is he doing with his arms? Obviously there is no ‘correct’ way to be kidnapped but man, that is some next level flailing. We attempted to recreate these arm movements here is the Unicorns office. This is what we came up with:



Why, if you are being literally kidnapped would your first instinct to defend yourself be to randomly flail your arms around, like you fell asleep on them and now you can’t feel them below the elbow? As h3h3Productions points out – why wouldn’t you try to grab the kidnapper’s hands? They did a (actually real, non-Kermit) recreation of their own. Their fake victim was told to resist just as she would if someone grabbed her in real life:


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Look at that – the first thing she does? Instinctively? Grab his hands. She grabbed his hands. Because why wouldn’t you grab his hands? Or claw at the guy? Or elbow him in the crotch? WHY WOULD YOU FLAIL YOUR ARMS LIKE THIS:


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Some might argue this is more than a little suspect. If you want to see h3h3’s full video, you can check it out here:



2. That’s not the only time the ‘victim’ acts weirdly…

Prank videos are faked all the time, in fact we recently ran a story about a popular Australian YouTuber who admitted that at least four of his videos were faked. The reasons for faking a prank video are obvious: it removes elements of risk, making the whole filming process smoother and guaranteed to go to plan. With something as elaborate as this prank, where there are so many risky elements, it would be way safer and simpler to just fake it. Consider the following:

  • The prank is being done by two friends on another friend. There is no reason why they couldn’t all be in on it
  • The kidnap victim conveniently puts on an Oscar-winning performance after losing his friend. If it is real they wouldn’t have known how camera-friendly his reaction would have been.
  • The victim did not ask why there was a load of filming equipment at the kidnapping
  • The victim did not think hey, isn’t it weird that this is happening just weeks after I befriend known-prankster Sam Pepper?
  • And, the most important point of all:

3. If It Is Real, Then Actual Crimes Might Have Been Committed

Ultimately the language of kidnapping is pretty much universal and the important thing to note here is that if this prank is real (as in, the victim wasn’t in on it), then Sam Pepper not only may have committed the crime of kidnapping he also filmed himself doing it. Intentions don’t matter, he still stole a person using force and moved them elsewhere against their will. As PopBuzz eloquently put it:

“Just because a camera is rolling and you intend to upload the footage onto your YouTube channel, that doesn’t mean the crime isn’t taking place. If police had been called to the area, Sam would still have to explain why a tied up body was being transported in the trunk of his car.”

If we take a quick look at Californian Law (source here), we can see that if this prank is real, Sam and co. might be guilty of kidnapping:

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kidnapping force


As we can see, it could potentially be argued that Pepper’s use of a gun (even though it’s fake) could make things worse for him. As could the very real psychological trauma caused by pretending to shoot someone’s best friend in the head right in front of them.

How would Sam and his pals get away with this crime? Why is it that they have not been investigated by the police?  It’s the way anyone can get away with a crime: by not doing the crime (or in this case prank) in the first place.

4. YouTube Is Way Too Chill About All This

YouTube is owned by Google. Google has a lot of money and very good, very scary lawyers. What Google does not have is complete immunity to the law….yet.



There have already been many calls for the video to be taken down, just in terms of how traumatic is it:


But if it is real? Well then YouTube will be:

  • Displaying a video of a kidnapping
  • Letting Sam Pepper make money from the ads on the kidnapping video
  • Making money themselves from the kidnapping video

Those aren’t violations of YouTube’s terms of service: those are serious legal issues. Even a case couldn’t be raised, these factors certainly make YouTube as a company look bad – and all companies fear bad PR more than pretty much anything. No, YouTube is too smart to associate itself with a video of a literal, actual crime. If that video continues to sit on the site (and it hasn’t moved an inch yet), it’s because YouTube have either worked out, or been told, that it’s fake. That all brings us back to the central theme of this issue.

5. The Simplest Answer Is Usually The Correct One

This theory (also known as Occam’s Razor, if you want to show off) applies to pretty much all of life. Unless you are friends with a load of magicians, most of your life is going to be as it seems. If something has a simple explanation, that explanation is almost always going to be the truth. In the case of this video, the simplest explanation for it all is that it’s all fake.

It would be such a messy situation if it was real: the video would have been harder to make, be potentially illegal, be potentially pulled down by YouTube – not to mention they would have actually pretended to shoot a guy’s best friend in the head before his very eyes. 

But what do you think? Let us know in the poll below: