When executing a YouTube prank, what is the most important part? Is it finding something funny?
Ensuring you can keep a straight face? Perhaps getting the right angle on video to share?
How about making sure you aren’t poisoning someone desperate for food?
Kanghua Ren, a Barcelona-based YouTuber who goes by the name ReSet, should have followed that last part a little more carefully. In January 2017, he filmed himself “pranking” a homeless man by giving him Oreos filled with toothpaste.
Now he’s facing possible prison time.
Ren’s video, which has since been deleted, depicted him scraping the icing out of a package of Oreo cookies and replacing it with toothpaste. He then refilled the package and gave it to a homeless man outside a supermarket.
The man is initially grateful, with Ren also giving him €20 ($25). However, when the man starts to eat the cookies, Ren has some doubts about his YouTube prank.
“Maybe I’ve gone a bit far, but look at the positive side, this will help him clean his teeth. I think he hasn’t cleaned them since he became poor.”
The cruel joke has left few willing to defend his actions.
Such senseless cruelty. How could he imagine that would be funny on any level? Only a sociopath with nothing of value to do or offer, could dream this up.— Snowstar444 (@snowstar444) June 3, 2019
Preying on one of society’s most vulnerable groups. Despicable!! Too bad he didn’t get a longer jail sentence.— Kathleen (@katdr59) June 3, 2019
A joke that causes someone else harm can and should be considered a crime— Andy W (@WyoBronco) June 3, 2019
Oh wow, another YouTube “comedian” not being funny. https://t.co/vI1T4Iow00— Charles J. Moore (@charles270) June 3, 2019
The man, identified in court documents as Gheorge L., says he grew sick and vomited after eating the cookies. After the video went up, it was the subject of controversy, with many finding the act cruel.
A Barcelona court agreed, as last week they issued Ren a 15-month prison sentence on top of a €22,000 ($24,700) fine. While Ren tried to dismiss the video as a bad YouTube prank, the judge pointed out that Ren made over €2,000 ($2,250) off the video.
In addition, Ren has been ordered to close his social media accounts and cannot re-open them for five years.
Justice is served. https://t.co/1HdXKQJAZO— LeadersHeir (@HeirLeaders) June 3, 2019
Good, that's disgusting pranking a homeless man ????— Matthew Banks (@Matthew08064083) June 3, 2019
Maybe he will think twice for another joke in the future— Poeta Maldito (@e_vsquez) June 3, 2019
Ren was 19 when he filmed the prank and tried to explain that he was very immature when he made that video. Which while probably true, doesn’t excuse the act.
The YouTuber also had videos where he tried offering sandwiches filled with his cats’ droppings to elderly people and children.
All this taken together, Judge Rosa Aragonés found Ren’s attempts to apologize lacking.
The judge said, when handing down her sentence:
“This was not an isolated act.”
However, while prosecutors have sought the two-year prison sentence, and the judge has issued a 15-month one, it’s possible Ren won’t serve time.
Spanish law allows short prison sentences for first-time offenders to be suspended.
What crime did he commit though? First I've ever heard of this happening so I'm curious— Joseph Haynes (@JoeRobHaynes) June 3, 2019
Bit over the top of you ask me. Yes the guy is a real son of a b’tch who cares more about likes than human beings but he’s just a product of the world we live in today. All these tech firm bosses who think they are saving the world have in fact damaged it and badly.— Nick Williams (@WL11AMS) June 3, 2019
It may not be guaranteed that the sentence will be suspended, but even if it is, the 5-year ban on social media should be plenty.
Ren dropped out of school to focus on his YouTube channel full time and may find it difficult to continue his career after this ruling.
YouTubers pulling bad pranks is a tale as old as the site itself. YouTubers Cole and Sav tried pranking their own daughter by telling her they were giving away the girl’s dog.
The 6-year-old obviously burst into tears over the news, and continued crying when the parents revealed it was a prank.
Cruelty is not funny. Ever.