Prank : Humor or Humiliation?

Samia Sultana Lira reflects on the recent incidences of prank in public places, mostly by group of young men to earn online accolades and likes. They say, ‘Just for fun.’ Is it?

mindspeak sept 17

You wake up in the morning with an alarm tone. A busy day ahead! You hurry for the washroom lest you should get late for classes. Taking toothpaste in your brush you look at the basin mirror with gloomy eyes and the next second your eyes get broad open and a little scream comes out. The first sentence you say in a cracked voice is – Who did this!! And then you hear your roommates nearby bursting out in laughter. So, no doubt is left in your mind about how this malice happened- who’ve drawn cat-like mustache on your sleeping face! You must be super angry in the first place but undoubtedly it’ll give you a super ecstatic starting of a day with fun and banter with roomies.

But what about the situation while passing through a path, a stranger throws a snake along with impolite shouting at you? In any single way, can this be humorous, be it an artificial snake just to make fun of you?

This is what happened with some people some days ago. While surfing on Facebook, a video shared by a friend caught my eyes. Pressing play button, a young person came along the screen saying he was going to show us something. Sitting by the side of a path in a park he was throwing a rubber snake with sudden immodest shouting saying ‘snake! snake!’. It’s needless to say, people got frightened, some were out of their mind. Sudden shouting is enough to startle someone, isn’t it? Moreover the snake! And after that you know your flustered reaction was recorded to show publicly!

Me, basically I think everyone seeing the video didn’t miss one obvious point that, this ‘prank’ was gendered, applied mostly on females! And this is the point which struck me the most.

Feeling totally down and enraged at the same time, I investigated for the video in YouTube and discovered that those ‘pranksters’ didn’t upload just one video; they actually have a channel with several prank videos.

Prank is not a new trend at all. Presence of pranks in media is not an unknown vibe. TV shows or movies holding pranks give people joy. People by nature love to have fun by putting a person in a humbled condition. But this contains affectionate gesture of humor and is designed to encourage laughter. It is to be kept in mind that the person made fun of should feel foolish and humbled, but never victimised or humiliated.

On the contrary, this prank contains aggression and sexism. Seems like the eve-teasers have found out a new way to tease. Tease a girl at your heart’s content, record and upload this on social media and then legalise it by calling it a prank! What a practical way to hide a misogynistic face under the mask of modernisation and crude humour! Who would know innocent humour can be such a malicious weapon for teasers!  In a subtle way it shows us the ubiquitous sexist mentality prevailing in our society.

Their other videos I found out were not something worth praising, rather full of embarrassment of general folk. All they do is harass people by creating strange situation and asking absurd questions. Teasing random public by throwing water, sudden intense brutal sound of flute targeted to couples- I don’t know how any of these can be humorous. Is their intention limited to becoming popular overnight and getting money from YouTube?

I was not there when these happened and I don’t know any of them. So, no way I have any personal bitterness for some unknown YouTubers except for I’m deadly against their aggressive mean views toward females along with annoying acts to commoners.

Recently High court asked for a rule to punish these kinds of mischiefs.

On this note, don’t you think that I’m against pranks! I am not encouraging youths to just judge everything in the world with a critical point of view forgetting fun and laughter. I’m all in for a little leg pulling or making fun by throwing rotten eggs on a friend’s head on his/her birthday, laughing heads off at jokes in friendly gossips and so much more. I myself love to watch pranks.

Humor is of great value and is always appreciated. It’s not only a way to fight hardships of everyday life but also a strong weapon to point out many irrelevances existing in our society in a gentle, non-harmful way. Can’t pranks be educative and instructive? Can it be used to create awareness in people about several burning issues? No hard feelings for pranks, I just wanted to remind that there should be a fine line between humor and humiliation.


Samia Sultana Lira is a student of University of Dhaka.






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