STUDIO CITY (CBSLA.com) — He thinks it’s funny, but not everyone is laughing about a YouTube star’s latest prank that some are calling sexual assault.
YouTube sensation Sam Pepper, clocking more than 2 million subscribers, gained notoriety for his prank videos on the video-sharing website, with recent clips like “Masked Gang Prank,” “Tour Bus Kidnap Prank” and “Saw in Real Life.”
Others have polarizing titles glorifying the objectification of women, including “How to Pick Up Girls with a Lasso,” “How to Pick Up Cougars” and “Easiest Way To Get A Number,” in which he promises to teach viewers “how to pick up random girls by pretending to know who they are.”
But after a clip was uploaded to his channel last week showing him asking women for directions and then grabbing their behinds, some say the YouTuber has gone too far.
“It’s completely inappropriate. It’s against the law, and it just sends the wrong message,” women’s advocate Britni Soto said.
KCAL9’s Brittney Hopper reports it’s unclear from the video if the women are part of the prank.
But a woman shown in a clip can be heard saying “I don’t like that,” even though she’s smiling.
Fellow YouTube sensations are among those criticizing Pepper.
“Sexually harassing women is vile to begin with, but normalizing it by calling it a prank? So harmful,” Tyler Oakley tweeted.
“It’s the same thing for when people joke about using the word rape,” Soto said.
The video had racked up 1.3 million views since Friday before it was pulled by YouTube on Monday morning.
Pepper’s representatives had not immediately responded to KCAL9/CBS2’s request for comment.
However, the online star appeared to address the controversy Monday night on Twitter, while sharing a link to a followup video.
“If you’ve seen something one way, will it change what you would of thought of it another way?” he wrote.
Pepper then shared a link to a video called “Fake Hand Ass Punch Prank,” in which a female friend is shown grabbing men’s behinds.