I’ve been resisting writing about the World Cup. I could have written about how it was streaming all over the world. Then I could have used that as a segue into how mobile and streaming are increasing in importance and some analysts were projecting as much as 40% of viewers planning to follow the World Cup on their phones. Truth be told if you are a reader of this site or somebody who follows my columns you would have known this already without me writing another article about it. As an Ohioan I’ve also been looking for an excuse to talk about Lebron James. Thanks to YouTube prankster Vitaly Zdorovetskiy I’ve got a wonderful reason to write about both now.
Never mind that Germany beat Argentina 1-0 on a thrilling late game goal to become the first European team to prevail in a World Cup in the Americas. Vitaly Zdorovetskiy was streaking and Lebron James caught it all for Instagram to see!
Vitaly Zdorovetskiy: Natural Born Prankster
Vitaly had “Natural Born Prankster” written across his chest and when I heard it was him, all I thought was, “that sounds about right”. Perhaps one of the best videos that gives some insight into his character is when he got pranked at VidCon in 2013 by BlackBoxTV and PrankvsPrank. So it comes as no surprise that he streaked onto the pitch at the World Cup and tried to get a kiss from Benedikt Hoewedes of Germany. Zdorovetskiy even hinted at the prank yesterday to his Facebook followers and then again on his Twitter page just hours before the match.
Another day another prank.. pic.twitter.com/hdkdWNpHk5
— Vitaly Zdorovetskiy (@Vitalyzdtv) July 14, 2014
Zdorovetskiy has been pushing the limits on YouTube with his pranks for the last couple of years. Pushing the limits has helped him gain popularity. One big push was two years ago with his Russian Hitman Prank Gone Wrong prank. He was actually arrested on a felony charge for the prank and the press was so good for his channel it roughly tripled in size over the 6 months following the arrest. Then just last month he and fellow pranksters Roman Atwood, Dennis Roady and cameraman Chase Gilroy stood trial in Columbus, Ohio for an ATM robbery prank. All of this attention has helped Zdorovetskiy amass a YouTube fan base of nearly 6.5 million subscribers who have viewed his videos over 644 million times.
Have Public Pranks Gone Too Far?
But the question remains, have public pranks gone too far? Generally speaking the worse the prank is the more attention it gets from shocked viewers, which helps channels like his sustain and continue the cycle of what they are doing. Streaking is a pretty harmless prank, except for the streaker in most cases. But pranks are popping up more and more where the pranksters are pushing the boundaries, all in the name of the almighty YouTube view. It even prompted the annual video conference, VidCon, to devote a panel to the topic titled, “Pranking Without Being a Douche”. At the panel Jesse Wellens of PrankvsPrank said, “As long as it’s funny, it’s not douchey”.
Pranksters like Stuart Edge take a different tact. He said that as long as the intentions of the prankster were in the right place, they weren’t being a douche. I think it’s a little more complicated than that, but to be a popular prankster on YouTube today, boundaries must be pushed. It’s a shame Vitaly was unable to make it to the panel as a result of his trial for the ATM prank, I would have loved to hear his take on what’s too far. I imagine there is nothing he wouldn’t consider for the right attention.