AFRICA IS A COUNTRY

There’s something about the Youtube “ghetto prank” genre
Caitlin Chandler and Sean Jacobs | July 10th, 2014

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On the Ock YouTube channel, two young men introduce themselves and say “they’re going to the hood” to play pranks. These pranks consist of things like fake farting on peoplestealing peoples’ phones to check the time, stealing people’s gas, or just yesterday, “Selling Guns In The Hood Prank!” Combined, the videos have been viewed close to a million times. While the prank genre has always been popular in the U.S.–from the 1990s slapstick humor of ABC’s America’s Funniest Home Videos to MTV’s elaborate Pranked to the latest homemade, endless iterations on YouTube (what we’re writing about now)–a disturbing trend has emerged. Increasingly, the most popular “pranks’  on YouTube all go to the “ghetto”–which seems to translate solely as black, working-class neighborhoods.

The “pranks,” all essentially pass themselves off as “social experiments” to see the reactions of ‘poor black people’ when an outsider threatens or provokes them. In the Ock YouTube farting video, the guy approaches a young woman, asks her where he can find a bathroom and then makes a loud farting noise. She responds that the man is harassing her, and asks him to stop–yet he continues to make farting noises and engage her.

At other times, the pranksters appear to celebrate being attacked. It makes for more views. Take the “Selling Guns” video which ends with victims of the prank punch and, worse, pull a gun on the pranksters:

A few frustrated commenters suggest some of these pranks are staged.

In general, these prank videos are about black people proving themselves as either freaking out (this seems to be the point of the videos and is presented as the norm) or in the minority of cases laughing it off (but this coolness is presented as exceptional, despite that like all prank videos, they’re being selectively edited for the most extreme reactions).

And then there is the popular Roman Atwood’s N-word prank, viewed 976,318 times on YouTube. In the video, Atwood (we presume; he also did the stealing gas prank) sets up the prank: “I’m going to go around and introduce myself in the neighborhood by using the n-word – neighbors.” Atwood is white (like most of the pranksters), with a dirty-blonde Mohawk and tattooed arm sleeve. As he walks down the street, a soundtrack of hip-hop beats blares. At every black person he encounters, he says, “What’s up my neighbor,” but dropping his voice at neighbor or speaking quickly as he walks by – so that the black people interpret it as “What’s up my nigger.” Then he waits for the response, and to let them know they’ve been pranked on film.

Isn’t that funny?

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Caitlin L. Chandler is a writer and longtime contributor to Africas a Country. Sean Jacobs was formerly known as Hasan Wazan.

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7 thoughts on “There’s something about the Youtube “ghetto prank” genre

  1. Question you have to ask yourselves – why do YOU spend so much time watching this crap? To prove what, exactly?

  2. Is there a way to get the local authorities involve here? Or perhaps find out who these guys are and why are they doing this?

    Since these idiots are not afraid to show their faces on camera, it shouldn’t be that hard to locate them and put them on blast. I serious doubt these pranks would go over well if they were done by black teens in predominately white working class neighborhoods. Think of the media hubbub it would cause.

  3. The pranks aren’t even funny or clever. It’s like doing something horrible, and the passing it off as “just kidding!” If every one of these pranksters got a knuckle sandwich, I wouldn’t shed a tear.

  4. Unless they’re done to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, practical jokes are neither practical nor jokes – they’re merely superiority laughs at another’s expense and pain.

    It’s sad to think people believe good humor is an easy task. Top-notch comedians and humorists hone their craft on the whetstones of nuance, delivery, appropriate timing and targets, and observation of the ludicrous things in life. The hacks ignore the artistry and simply mock.

  5. You should worry more about those kids with real guns that don’t have concealed weapon permits and most likely a stolen gun that is definitely not theirs then a stupid prank.

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