British YouTube star Sam Pepper has over 2 million subscribers, aqua hair, and, as of yesterday, the entire internet against him. On Sunday, Pepper uploaded a prank video (you’ll find many such videos on his channel) in which he carries out an elaborate ruse to scare the shit out of one half of the Vine star duo Sam Golbach and Colby Brock. In the video, Pepper kidnaps Colby (who was in on the prank) and Golbach and takes them to a rooftop where Pepper pretends to shoot and kill Colby in front of an absolutely petrified Golbach. (“We’re just kids from Kansas!” Golbach can be heard screaming through tears.) They then let the cameras roll while Golbach — who’s been tied to a chair the whole time — screams and cries for about a minute, believing his best friend has just been murdered, until Colby comes back from the dead and reveals the prank. They hug it out eventually and film an outro for the video two days later with Pepper, in which Golbach gives the two “props” for their “insane” trickery.
But, as is the case with any prank that plays emotional trauma for laughs, Pepper’s now been vilified on social media. MTV says he’s “disgusting,” while some of Pepper’s own fans (and the majority of his haters) want him banned from the site. YouTube reportedly won’t be removing the video because it technically doesn’t violate community guidelines, but this isn’t the first time Pepper has outraged the ever-expanding YouTube universe. Last year, Pepper was accused of sexual harassment after he uploaded a different prank video that showed him pinching several women’s butts as he stopped them for directions. That video was taken down, and Pepper later claimed it was part of a staged “social experiment” about street harassment and gender.
Pepper has yet to comment on his latest backlash, except to retweet a post from Golbach about how the prank only strengthened his friendship with Colby:
Sam and Colby have also shared a seperate message, saying the prank wasn’t intended to be funny but “to show a true friendship.”