PDA

View Full Version : Why are prank shows legal?



Ravioli
07-20-2015, 01:38 PM
So this question bugs me, but I keep forgetting to ask it. Here goes.

I love prank shows and pranks in general. I laugh, but then I often stop and think: WTF about the victims? I mean, if it's just a scare or messing with one's head like that girl on a German show introducing her parents to her boyfriend who was an actor playing an absolutely horrible mess of a person, sure, go ahead. I may do something funny at Ikea soon, but nothing that will break anything. Or that one show where a guy pretended to turn live piglets into sausage before the customer's eyes. I eat meat, but I think people need to be aware of where it comes from.

But then there are those:

1. Anything involving large amounts of liquid - what about electronic gadgets, weak immune system, or plans to be somewhere?
2. People falling into water - what if they can't swim? And again, gadgets etc.
3. Toilet pranks - I'd be mortified to have my naked ass on TV, or even "only" seen by the prankster
4. Scares too close to the road - people run away blindly, what if they have an accident?
5. Pranking high heart attack risk people like the elderly; a heart attack was actually suffered in an elevator prank
6. Making people fall. You don't need osteoporosis - which the prankster can't predict they don't have - to really hurt yourself
And so on. I mean, any fall could break your smartphone, then what? I don't care if you hand me a replacement, all my personal stuff was on it and I may need it this very second.

There's this one compilation of some Arab kid pranking people in town, and while I absolutely adore him, there are some real dangerous ones like setting a man's newspaper on fire. And I also think he's simply a twat for popping a girl's balloon and basically ruining her date by provoking her boyfriend into pursuing and beating him up. He also endangered traffic.
Don't get me started on Japanese prank shows where they push people down snowy slopes.
And I just saw one clip where people are made to fall into the sea and you see their shoes floating/sinking.

Why are they legal, why are they legal to be shown to inspire others, and why do I rarely hear of people sueing for damages?

Cyia
07-20-2015, 06:09 PM
In the US, any broadcast show requires a written and signed release from the person being shown, either before or after they've been "pranked." They're also required to have safety measures and medical personnel on hand in case of emergency. Many times the people involved think they're participating or at least watching a show of some kind, so they're prepared for something, even if they don't know what it is. You have to have multiple permits to film on location.

TV spontaneity is more like a 2minute delay on reality.

Brightdreamer
07-20-2015, 08:37 PM
TBH, I've always thought they were potential setups for a Law & Order or CSI episode... Even with safety measures on hand, there are so many ways things can go wrong - and the things they do are often just plain not funny.

regdog
07-20-2015, 09:08 PM
I loathe practical jokes and won't watch those shows. They are a death waiting to happen.

BenPanced
07-20-2015, 09:21 PM
They've been around since the advent of TV (Candid Camera, anybody?), but they've gotten much more vicious in later years. Nowadays, you can't have innocent tricks such as a spoon dissolving when somebody stirs their coffee or Grandma sweeping the sidewalk and smacking your butt with her broom as you walk by, two classic Candid Camera bits. It's all about a brick to the crotch or exposing somebody's underwear these days. And people keep telling me humor has gotten more "sophisticated" since the 1950's.

Tazlima
07-20-2015, 09:27 PM
They've been around since the advent of TV (Candid Camera, anybody?), but they've gotten much more vicious in later years. Nowadays, you can't have innocent tricks such as a spoon dissolving when somebody stirs their coffee or Grandma sweeping the sidewalk and smacking your butt with her broom as you walk by, two classic Candid Camera bits. It's all about a brick to the crotch or exposing somebody's underwear these days. And people keep telling me humor has gotten more "sophisticated" since the 1950's.

Aw, you're taking me down memory lane. My favorite Candid Camera bit, the only one that's stuck in my mind over the years, was when they rigged a speaker up to a dog cage at an animal shelter and had the dog "talk" to little kids (keeping mum when the parents came around). The kids were completely convinced they had just found an honest-to-goodness talking dog. It was sooo freakin' cute.

Gilroy Cullen
07-20-2015, 09:31 PM
Why are they legal, why are they legal to be shown to inspire others, and why do I rarely hear of people sueing for damages?

The same reason the Jackass TV show existed, as well as the umpteen movies. There's a market for it and the lawyers have already gotten their cut.

Maryn
07-20-2015, 09:48 PM
Ahh, Candid Camera. It was really only good with it didn't make people look foolish or desperate. The kid pranks were often adorable, the ones with adults occasionally making me cringe. I remember one where women sent from a temp agency to do office work allowed themselves to be chained to their desks. Ah, the desperation that allows you to permit abuse because you really need the money, hilarious. Not.

I did very much enjoy Britain's Trigger Happy TV, which had clever and harmless pranks, often of the cast dressed as animals and filming the reactions of the public. I see many of the bits are on YouTube.

Ravioli
07-20-2015, 10:10 PM
The same reason the Jackass TV show existed, as well as the umpteen movies. There's a market for it and the lawyers have already gotten their cut.
But how can even the best lawyer get a TV production out of the noose for injuring, humiliating, or property-damaging a non-consenting person? I mean, could a lawyer really save the producers if they were to dunk water on me and ruin my smartphone, or make me slip and break my face??
There was this one prank with a bench that got lifted off the ground. There were no bars to hold on to; people could have slipped off and literally broken their necks.

Perks
07-20-2015, 10:29 PM
I'd like to think I'd be a good sport about being frightened by one of the pranks, but I'm almost positive I would end up being their worst nightmare.

Laurasaurus
07-21-2015, 12:36 AM
I loved Jackass, but only when they played pranks on each other. I hate the (few) stunts they did that involved the public - always made me feel uncomfortable.

Xelebes
07-21-2015, 12:38 AM
Just for Laughs Pranks are all right. The shows from Brazil can be just downright nasty.

ShaunHorton
07-21-2015, 12:49 AM
There was one on the SyFy channel. Scare Tactics it was called, putting people into horror movie set-ups. I loved it, and there was one, where this guy and his friends picked up a hitchhiker (an actor) with a head in his bag. When he pulled a fake knife (he was in the passenger seat, the prankee was in the back) the person being pranked jumped up between the seats and just started beating him in the head. It took everyone else in the car to pull him back, and still the actor held his composure until the reveal. I was always rather surprised more people didn't have that reaction.

Maryn
07-21-2015, 01:06 AM
It seems utterly foolhardy to prank in a way that makes your victim fear for his safety. What if, instead of pounding the actor with the fake knife on the head, he'd pulled out a .45 and shot through the seat?

Maryn, knowing this is a possibility when you deal with the public, in the US, anyway

Ravioli
07-21-2015, 01:32 AM
It seems utterly foolhardy to prank in a way that makes your victim fear for his safety. What if, instead of pounding the actor with the fake knife on the head, he'd pulled out a .45 and shot through the seat?

Maryn, knowing this is a possibility when you deal with the public, in the US, anyway
This is another aspect where I think you need to draw a line, though in these cases, the prankster has no one but himself to blame so it's kinda sorta fine by me. I once thought about donning a burqa, walking into a Tel Aviv mall, yanking up my phone and screaming "Allahu akbar!" but I was told I'd be shot dead immediately, so... There was actually one who did this at the security check right at the Wailing Wall. He took several bullets.
There was this Jackass thing where one dressed up as a terrorist and got a cab. He confessed (or something?) to the driver what he was planning, the driver drew a gun and made the jackass curl up in the trunk. It took some talking down by freaked-out crew members to abort this. I think this was funny because the prankster was the only one in trouble, but still, imagine you kill someone because you think you're in real danger, then you find out you killed some mother's child over a joke.

But there are pranks that can freak people out so bad they can hurt themselves. There was this one, I laughed, but still: an actor was placed on a bus stop. A shot was fired, and the actor collapsed in a lifeless heap. Of course the bystanders freaked the hell out and ran, but what if you run into traffic? Some of those people really panicked and ran blindly, one girl fell, what if she'd been pregnant or broken her iPhone or whatever? As much as I enjoy cruel pranks, the thought of all the risks bothers me.


I loved Jackass, but only when they played pranks on each other. I hate the (few) stunts they did that involved the public - always made me feel uncomfortable.
Here it depends for me. If it's just freaking them out by pretending to be taking a shit on a display toilet (or cleaning it up spotlessly themselves and paying for the stink), or the "Bad Grampa" thing, fine. But nothing that got people really hurt or their stuff damaged, or day ruined. Though they need to tune down the animal abuse. You can't throw snakes. They have bones which can break.

There was one, rather recent, where a kid on an elevator struggled with diarrhea and shat on people. I wonder, was that real shit? But even if not, I don't even want chocolate ice cream on my stuff, so that's too far for me.

I used to have a nemesis in high school; he was annoying and I just wanted to annoy him for a change. You know that prank when you pull a chair away when someone's about to sit, and they fall on their ass? Yeah, except I forgot there was a wall close behind us and when he fell, he opened up his back on the edge of the blocked chair. He needed stitches. And he punched me back so hard it took everything not to cry. These things need planning AND victim selection if they are to remain funny. Like, no pregnant or high-risk or other people who look like they can get harmed easily.

Roxxsmom
07-21-2015, 01:56 AM
I assume there's a release form that must be signed before it can be put on television. Though Tosh.O shows videos of allegedly candid and random street scenes (people vomiting in public and so on). This raises the question--are these scenes fakes (let's pretend to barf in public) or set ups (dude, I'm gonna puke. Get the cell phone out), or are they really violating people's privacy and possible safety?

Incidentally, vomiting and having explosive diarrhea in public are not jokes. The aerosol created is potentially infectious (if the person is sick with something contagious), and in fact, we have seminars in the district about how to deal with "bodily fluid eruptions" in classrooms, because of the threat of everything from norovirus to hepatitis B or C. Evacuate and call the campus police and facilities maintenance and do not try to clean it yourself without proper equipment is the take-home message.

So I'm guessing that the pooping and barfing in elevators scenes like that are probably fake. But even so, there's a real chance that the pranked person may become sick themselves (a common reaction to being around such things). No idea how the liability works then.

As for the panic-inducing ones--assuming they're not really just faked with the "victims" of the prank also being actors--it's probably only a matter of time before someone has a real heart attack or runs into traffic or breaks something irreplaceable.

Ravioli
07-21-2015, 02:31 AM
I assume there's a release form that must be signed before it can be put on television. Though Tosh.O shows videos of allegedly candid and random street scenes (people vomiting in public and so on). This raises the question--are these scenes fakes (let's pretend to barf in public) or set ups (dude, I'm gonna puke. Get the cell phone out), or are they really violating people's privacy and possible safety?
But by then, the damage is done. When I lost a $700 cell phone or slipped and tore my jeans, appearing on TV is the least of my worries.

LittlePinto
07-21-2015, 02:31 AM
There was one on the SyFy channel. Scare Tactics it was called, putting people into horror movie set-ups. I loved it, and there was one, where this guy and his friends picked up a hitchhiker (an actor) with a head in his bag. When he pulled a fake knife (he was in the passenger seat, the prankee was in the back) the person being pranked jumped up between the seats and just started beating him in the head. It took everyone else in the car to pull him back, and still the actor held his composure until the reveal. I was always rather surprised more people didn't have that reaction.

Thus making that actor one of the greatest to ever grace the SyFy channel.

I feel very uncomfortable with prank shows for the reasons y'all mention. I also don't like those shows that show recordings of purportedly funny accidents. All I want to ask people is if they're aware of how dangerous some of those situations were.

Robert Dawson
07-21-2015, 02:42 AM
It occurred to me a while back:

Expenditure: Getting your "passersby" from Central Casting would cost next to nothing, by TV filming standards. (Especially as they are typically nonspeaking roles. Ever notice that? Even when somebody comes out to pat them on the shoulder and tell them what good sports they've been, it's a long shot without sound.)

Liability insurance for pranking genuine passersby, big bucks. (Especially in concealed-carry states...)

Results: With semipro actors who haven't been told the whole story but know to ignore the camera and expect something: precisely the "ah, THAT's what's up" looks and say-cheese grins you see on the programs.

Random passersby: lots of takes that don't work because somebody misses the point, spots the camera, starts screaming at the crew, or stomps off without waiting for the obligatory "gotcha, buddy! But we're still friends, aren't we?" shot. And the crew's time is money.

You're the producer. You decide.

J.S.F.
07-21-2015, 02:58 AM
Over here (Japan) prank shows are common, and usually involve actors who know more or less what kind of situation they're getting into. They also sign consent forms. The producers generally plan things very carefully, but there have been instances where people did get hurt and a couple have died. It's a "I'm sorry" kind of thing.

Years back, some dumbass comedian tried to prank me and an old girlfriend of mine. He poked her in the eye. Accident or not, I saw red, he ate pavement. Lots of sorries all around...and that comedian never appeared on TV again.

CrastersBabies
07-21-2015, 06:50 AM
I remember seeing a clip where Paris Hilton was recorded on a prank show on an airplane. They made it seem like they were all going to die. I just don't find that stuff funny. Or cool. Even with Paris Hilton.

cornflake
07-21-2015, 07:14 AM
I remember seeing a clip where Paris Hilton was recorded on a prank show on an airplane. They made it seem like they were all going to die. I just don't find that stuff funny. Or cool. Even with Paris Hilton.

Even Paris Hilton would have sued for that one if it'd been real. She knew what was going on.

I've never found any of those funny really, save for verbal pranks or passive ones, for lack of a better word - like going up to someone on the street and asking them some weirdo questions, or this thing Letterman used to do, sending people dressed in costumes (like giant dog costumes, superhero ones) into random stores to just stand there en masse and see if employees would say anything. That stuff cracks me up. People falling on their asses or getting scared in an elevator does nothing for me.

Betty White had or has a prank show, but it's very cute and harmless. It features older people saying or doing vaguely outrageous things to get a reaction, like an older woman who looks like people's idea of a sweet granny type going up to some 20-something women and asking what will turn on her new bf do they think - cue 20-yr-old hunky bf.

Latina Bunny
07-21-2015, 07:17 AM
I loathe practical jokes and won't watch those shows. They are a death waiting to happen.

I hate (scare) pranks/practical jokes, too. Then again, I hate surprises, even surprise parties or casual jokes. I don't like being frightened much. (I'm a bit skittish/paranoid with strangers without being scared by pranks.) It depends on the prank, but scare pranks frighten me a lot, and I tend to get angry and may even burst into tears when I get scared.

Laurasaurus
07-21-2015, 02:07 PM
I used to have a nemesis in high school; he was annoying and I just wanted to annoy him for a change. You know that prank when you pull a chair away when someone's about to sit, and they fall on their ass? Yeah, except I forgot there was a wall close behind us and when he fell, he opened up his back on the edge of the blocked chair. He needed stitches. And he punched me back so hard it took everything not to cry. These things need planning AND victim selection if they are to remain funny. Like, no pregnant or high-risk or other people who look like they can get harmed easily.
Yikes. I guess that sort of thing is only to be expected from kids, that's when you learn about consequences! It's when middle aged men are still pranking that I worry a little. :) (ie, probably most of Jackass now.)

Ravioli
07-21-2015, 02:44 PM
Yikes. I guess that sort of thing is only to be expected from kids, that's when you learn about consequences! It's when middle aged men are still pranking that I worry a little. :) (ie, probably most of Jackass now.)
And... HARD GAY WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! Although his stuff borders on harassment rather than pranks...

Filigree
07-21-2015, 06:12 PM
I don't like prank situations for the same reasons I avoid haunted house theme parks. My natural and trained responses generally include 'Attack!' just after or in place of 'Flinch!' I pull my punches in the next second, but it can get scary for everybody involved.

Cyia
07-21-2015, 06:41 PM
I don't like prank situations for the same reasons I avoid haunted house theme parks. My natural and trained responses generally include 'Attack!' just after or in place of 'Flinch!' I pull my punches in the next second, but it can get scary for everybody involved.

Yep.

Even those of us without formal training can have some potentially dangerous reflexes. I've had reactions to certain situations I didn't expect because they *are* reflexes and I didn't know they would happen until that reflex is tested.

And crowds generally follow the lead of the first responder in a situation. If no one moves, the crowd stays still - the so-called "bystander effect." If someone takes the lead and moves to action, the crowd will usually follow suit, deferring to the stronger personality or perceived authority. If that first person reacts self-protectively (or if you've got someone in the crowd willing to leap to another person's defense) you can end up at the bottom of a dog pile.

Testing someone's fight or flight is a reckless coin flip.

Ravioli
07-21-2015, 06:45 PM
I once reflexively flipped off a customer. When I realized, I wasl like "Oh shit" and beat that arm back down.