Notorious creator calls it quits after a very public fall from grace
By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor
If you don’t frequent YouTube (YT) often, then you might not know of the scandal that took place late last year. There was an influx of people coming forward claiming that the behaviour of some YouTube celebrities was inappropriate, and at times even illegal. Fans of popular YT creators such as Mike Lombardo and Tom Milsom were shocked to hear about sexual assault allegations and arrests on child pornography charges after it was revealed that some creators even coerced underage fans to send them nude photos and videos of them performing sexual acts, such as masturbating.
Most of these incidents were dealt with by authorities, resulting in the creators themselves shutting down their social media accounts and YT channels to avoid backlash. This was often done with very little fanfare and no explanation unless their behavior resulted in a ban on them attending VidCon, YT’s annual convention.
That is, until Sam Pepper rolled into town. This reality star, who was best known on YT for his prank videos, came under fire for one such video where he ran around pinching women’s butts. Many people in the Internet community found this behaviour disturbing, claiming that he was actually sexually assaulting these women because he didn’t have their consent prior to filming or touching them. After the video’s release in 2014, Pepper replied to the outcry by claiming that the video was actually a social experiment to show how society doesn’t take the issue of male sexual assault seriously. The YT community fired back with a resounding and unified cry of “Bullshit!” and Pepper suffered a small fall from grace.
The events and the internet community’s questioning of Pepper’s behavior inspired several fans to come forward and claim that Pepper had behaved inappropriately towards them at various meetups. Rumours circulated about an unnamed woman who was contemplating filing sexual harassment charges after Pepper allegedly lured her into a room and tried to pressure her into sex. Ultimately, no charges were filed, but the damage was done—Sam Pepper was labelled a misogynist and harasser. He took a break from YT, only to return in late 2015 with a new prank video.
The video itself showed Pepper tricking people into thinking they had been kidnapped and involved a mock shooting of the captured person’s best friend. By this time the Internet had had enough of Pepper’s antics, and a petition was made to ban him from YT, and for all his content to be deleted.
On Febuary 21, 2016 Pepper deleted all of his tweets and made his YT channel inaccessible to the public, his only statement being “I give up,” and an assurance that he would be uploading one more video explaining his side of everything that occurred.