Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Sharing a laugh over a prank

Watching Punk'd and other "pranking" TV shows I wondered how we went from Candid Camera to Bam Margera and Punk'd. How did pranking evolve from fooling people to hurting people? Yes, sometimes Candid Camera made people think they'd messed up and gave them a scare, but it's far short from the lengths Punk'd goes to, where the objective seems to be to terrify the victim, reduce them to tears, or royally piss them off.

There are countless pranking channels on Youtube. Some are funny, while others are little more than the players hurting each other. And I'll admit, I laugh at both, because there is something funny (to me) about watching a guy run into a room, skid across the waxed linoleum floor, and run face first into a wall of plastic wrap. I'm sure if I were the guy lying flat on my back with a knot rising up on the back of my head where it bounced off the floor I'd not be quite so amused, but being the viewer, we're removed from the pain. Nut shots, however, are far too real. I'll laugh my arse off at Jackass, but when the guys take the inevitable nut shot it always makes me wince.

What happened to pranking where nobody got hurt, and folks could laugh it off?

It was my senior year at High School and I was in the Senior's Common Room getting ready for Math class. My friend Tim took his Math book out of his locker, sat it on the table behind him, then started chatting to another classmate. I walked past Tim, picked up his Math book, and walked to the other side of the Common Room. When Tim finished his conversation he locked his locker, turned around to get his Math book...and found an empty table. He knew he'd just taken his Math book out, and yet it wasn't there. Doubt set in. As he turned back around to unlock his locker I stepped up, set his Math book back down on the table, then moved away. Tim opened his locker and peered in; no Math book. He turned around, puzzled, and there it was, on the table behind him, right where he'd left it. Knowing he was being pranked he looked around and found the culprit with a stupid grin on his face. "I knew I'd taken it out!" he said, laughing.


Memphis Steve said...

Personally, I think the rise in cruelty on TV and on YouTube relates to the rising levels of narcissism in our culture. In a post-Christian, synthetic drug loving America, the more a person suffers, the more we're expected to laugh, especially if the victim is an inherently unPC white male. You can tell a lot about the people behind our TV shows by the things they think are funny.

István said...

Hi Captn John!

This is not a reply to this post, but i couldn't reach you otherwise. You have given some ocnstructive comments on Tobold's blog in 2008 to his "Shandalar" idea.
I have started to implement these card game ideas in my upcoming multiplayer game and been reading the blog post comments. If you are still interested in giving comments, send me a reply at istvan.david (at) gmail and we go on from there.