Sam Pepper is one of the most well-known faces on YouTube in the United Kingdom – and not for the best reasons. Sam first gained notoriety as a participant on Big Brother in 2010, and then went on to have a successful YouTube career.
It all came crumbling down when he released some very unpleasant pranks, one of which led to him being accused of sexual assault and being investigated by the LAPD before the charges were dismissed. Another scene showed Sam convincing a man that he had witnessed his best friend’s death.
Despite his massive blunders, Sam has grown to popularity on TikTok, a video site popular among younger generations, where he has over 1.5 million followers and has been awarded an official verified badge.
You’d be forgiven for thinking the whole thing was a little sketchy, what with him rarely exposing his face in videos and using his fiancée as a display photo.
So, after falling so far, how did Sam make such a remarkable comeback? –YouTube’s humble beginnings
Sam started his YouTube channel in 2010, and his prank videos and appearance on Big Brother helped him gain a large following.
He did, however, publish his film Fake Hand Ass Grab Prank in 2014, in which he appeared to pinch the bottoms of unsuspecting women. Naturally, he received a lot of backlash for the careless prank, so he quickly followed up with The Reveal, a second film.
He infamously claimed the whole affair was a “social experiment” afters filming a woman squeezing men’s bum this time. In the now-deleted video, he remarked, “It goes without saying you can’t go around groping people’s buttocks without asking.”
‘For the experiment, I decided to focus on sexual harassment.’ That way, I can pass it off as a joke, pretend it’s innocuous, and watch your reactions in the comments.’
Several women accused Sam of rape and sexual abuse after seeing the video. One claimed victim, who requested anonymity, told Buzzfeed News that she was assaulted while the vlogger was on tour in Toronto.
He is believed to have asked her to his hotel room after they met on Twitter and exchanged contact information. The woman stated that she, her sister, and a friend went to the concert venue to see if they could get free tickets from Pepper, but he refused her sister and friend, only allowing her into the arena.
She claims that after the concert, he took her back to his hotel and assaulted her under the guise of taking her home.
‘I kept shouting no, and he laughed and pinned me down,’ she explained. I initially mistook him for a joke, but then I realized he was having sex with me.’ ‘I thought it was my fault,’ the woman added, explaining why she hadn’t come forward earlier.
The LAPD stated to BBC Newsbeat in 2014 that they had investigated Pepper as a result of one woman’s allegations, but that the accusation was dropped because the alleged victim was “unwilling to cooperate.” Sam has categorically rejected all allegations of rape and sexual assault, and no charges have been filed against him as of yet.
Prank on a Best Friend
The drama didn’t end there, as Sam went on to post his film Killing Best Friend Prank, which featured fellow talents Sam Golbach and Colby Brock.
While Brock was in on the hoax, Golbach was not, and he appeared increasingly distressed throughout the video.
Pepper kidnapped the pair while wearing a mask, finally taking them up to a rooftop and forcing Golbach to watch him pretend to shoot his best friend.
Golbach appeared to be in tears after witnessing his friend’s murder, and the footage aroused widespread outrage as well as making headlines.
Sam vowed to erase his YouTube channel if he received $1.5 million (£1.1 million) in GoFundMe donations after thousands signed a petition to have him deleted.
In 2016, the YouTuber posted a lengthy apologetic video on his channel.
Sam informed viewers in the 20-minute vlog, titled ‘i’m sorry,’ that he wanted to talk to them like friends and be absolutely honest with them. He also stated that YouTube videos were his life and that he wanted to continue making them. He did admit, though, that his antics had made him appear as a ‘douche,’ and that his previous arguments that they were a sociological experiment were ‘bulls***.’
The film also addressed multiple allegations of sexual assault leveled against him, which he has consistently denied. ‘If I had done that, I wouldn’t be sitting here now,’ he remarked. ‘I know there’ll still be people who say something,’ Sam said at the end.
‘I know there will still be critics, but if I [created this video] and then create something that I truly believe in, at the very least I’ll feel better about myself.’
The triumphant return
Sam has never fully vanished from the internet, unlike other YouTubers who have had massive meltdowns, but he has been moving about and rebranding.
After the removal of the more disturbing pranks and the apology video, his primary channel, which still has over two million subscribers, contains some of his softer pranks, meaning that if a new viewer happened upon his channel, they might not be aware of his past misdeeds.
He ceased uploading to his main channel two years ago and started Sam Pepper Live, his second channel.
Sam posts vlogs, typically starring his girlfriend, after moving in with streamer Ice Poseidon. In terms of the most recent revamp, Sam’s first TikTok video of him and his girlfriend’saving’ some baby ducks had 1.9 million likes in 2019.
Sam’s TikToks have seen him follow trends and submit challenge videos, life hacks, and stunts that he warns viewers against trying at home. He rarely displays his face, despite the fact that his new fans either doesn’t recognize him from his YouTube days or doesn’t care.
We’ve seen YouTubers make comebacks after major gaffes, the most severe example being Logan Paul, who filmed an apparent suicide victim and included the footage in a vlog on his trip to Japan.
It was just a month until he released his apologetic vlog, and then it was back to business as usual. However, how many chances do you get with someone like Sam? Is there ever a time when an internet creator’s platform is taken away from them completely?
Fans have unsubscribed en masse to a YouTuber in various occasions, including James Charles and Tati Westbrook’s dramatic feud last year, resulting in their being ‘cancelled.’
Cancel culture, on the other hand, does not result in the eradication of a platform or, in many cases, the impact of a specific creator. It reflects mob mentality in many cases, as evidenced by a million people unsubscribing from beauty guru James’ channel last year, only to resubscribe days later.
YouTube, TikTok, Twitch, and Mixer, among other online video platforms, have given us amazing minds, enormously successful celebrities, and, very probably, the entertainment industry’s future.
However, allowing humiliated celebrities to make comeback after comeback and reinvent themselves repeatedly sets a terrible precedent for the future.