It’s a Prank!

Pranks were prominent in our juvenile jovialities. I would stop and recall those times; and I could not help but crack a smile, and sometimes erupt in restrained laughter. I remember when Eli would toss a chalk filled blackboard eraser up the ceiling fan, blowing the chalk dust all about down our classmates who would scurry about to avoid the shower of powder. There was a time when Jose acted likesome deranged lunatic, moving spastically and foaming at the mouth at the road side, outside the school, scaring the passersby and igniting us, friends to laughter. There was a time when I got home and opened my schoolbag to find an empty Ginebra bottle and a coconut husk inside. They got me that time. They must have been laughing their guts out. Those were fun times. But the fun is only good for one side of the prank position. There could be times that the prank recipient would laugh with the prankster. But those times would be few and far between along the extent of times that the pranksters caused annoyance, if not serious offense.

For some time, some Youtube Vlog channel uploaded a video with the title, “Abusadong Bulag which featured pranks ” ridiculing persons with visual impairment, which included misuse of the white cane, improperly guiding a person with blindness in walking, and other tricks that play visual disability for laughs. I tried to browse other episodes, and found other videos on mimicking epilepsy seizures and attacks of mental health illness. These guys seem to have a knack on making fun of persons with disability. (I’m even avoiding mentioning the channel to prevent myself from contributing in the boost of their popularity.) Apparently, this channel follows the tradition of Candid Camera and Wow! Mali. I had watched more than a few episodes of those shows, but don’t really remember any prank directed towards persons with disability. However, I remember one Wow! Mali episode when one person on a wheelchair pranked passersby to lend a hand in pushing the chair; then he would suddenly stand and walk after some distance. Most prank victims just acted surprised. Some found it funny. There were a few who reacted violently, or maybe those were just the ones that they showed on TV. They call this, “kasiyahan”. They call this, “good vibes”. I observe that this sort is what the youth are interested in, nowadays. They seem to lean towards lazying for laughs.

Maybe the concerned communities were too harsh on this Internet imps. Of course, the videos would be offensive on at least one sector of society. We can’t really measure an Adam Sandler movie using Cannes Film Festival standards. I suppose when Vic Sotto makes a movie, he doesn’t expect it to be nominated at the Oscars best foreign film category. It was produced merely for laughs. Thus, it would be unfair to measure such films on artistic standards. Similarly, it would be unfair to evaluate a prank video on the principles that it preaches, when those are not its objectives. The goal is simply to incite laughter, and it should be rightly judged on how humorous it is.

On the other hand, there’s a certain line that has to be drawn for chips and candy if they become hurtingly unhealthy. A line has to be drawn when recreational sports become physically dangerous. A line has to be drawn when videoke singing becomes disruptive to the neighborhood. There has to be a line drawn between recreation and respect. There are simply some areas in life that pranksters should stay away from, like spirituality, the elderly, children, struggles of the marginalized, history, culture and tradition, individual feelings, personal issues. In such areas, respect should rise above recreation, function over fun, principle over prank, justice over jokes, heart over humor. Eat up those chips and candy but mind your health. Play and be adventurous, but keep it from being dangerous. Sing with the celebrators, but don’t wake up the neighbors.

In respect to the Vloggers, they have recently uploaded a public apology on video; and I could not seem to find the videos in question anymore. I guess they have been taken down. But how did all these come to be? How did some people got themselves infected with the germ of an idea to poke fun on persons with disability? Why despite advancements in human rights legislations, viewers seem to have enjoyed recreational ridicule? Maybe it is not that people are not yet aware enough to be sensitive. Maybe people simply do not want to be aware enough to be sensitive.

“…Do not fear the reproach of mere mortals or be terrified by their insults.” -Isaiah 51:7