YouTuber Kanghua Ren found himself a lot of trouble with the law due to a 2017 "prank" video that involved feeding a homeless man toothpaste-filled Oreos.
Some of the most popular channels on YouTube are those dedicated to candid "pranks" or "gags." While there are a lot of funny ones on there that take a lot of careful planning and yield hilarious results, some aren't so kosher.
In the best-case scenario, these bad "prank" videos are ultimately staged, which just gets the YouTuber in some hot water with their viewership and maybe some other pranksters who take pride in pulling off honest-to-goodness gags.
Then they're the prank videos that toe the line between "pranking" someone and disrespecting or harming them. The whole point of a prank is that to be humorous, not mean-spirited. Sadly, many are just that.
Some YouTubers actively bully people on video and then scream, "It's just a prank!" when they get caught harassing a stranger and someone starts slapping them upside the head or calls the cops.
Unfortunately, Kanghua seems like this kind of prankster, because he thought it'd be funny to scrape the creme from some Oreos and fill the chocolate biscuits up with toothpaste. Then feed said sandwich cookies to a homeless man.
Kangua filmed and uploaded the video back in 2017, when he was 19 years old. He can be heard saying in the video, "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."
If his lawyer in the case tried pleading the humanitarian angle, I'm sure the prosecution pointed to this line. Yeesh.
The homeless man who ate the cookies Kanghua gifted him reportedly vomited five minutes after eating them.
After uploading the video to his channel, ReSet, Khangua reportedly earned $2,200 in revenue. The YouTuber has over 1 million subscribers to his channel, and many people who watched the "prank" immediately criticized him for being "cruel."
Kanghua tried to clarify his actions in a follow-up video after receiving a fair amount of hate online for exploiting the 53-year-old "Gheorge L." Instead of apologizing, he doubled down on his prank. Kangua argued the only reason people had a problem with the joke was because it was played on a homeless person and, had he performed the same gag on anyone else, people wouldn't be as up in arms.
"People exaggerate over jokes in the street [played] on a beggar, when surely if it's done to a normal person they wouldn't say anything. I did not know they would say I wanted to poison a poor man."
Kanghua went on to say that he tried the Oreos himself with his brother before following through with the prank.
Allegedly, Kanghua approached Gheorge after the incident with $337 (€300 EU) to try and "quiet" the public crap-storm that was headed his way for the prank.
It didn't help.
Kanghua was called into court and tried pleading his case, saying he was only performing the type of entertainment his viewers want to see. "I do things to mount a show: people like what is morbid."
Judge Rosa Aragones didn't seem convinced. "This was not an isolated act," she said, ordering Kanghua to pay Gheorge $22,238 in damages. Additionally, the judge commanded he shut down his social media channels for the next five years, meaning he'll have to find another way to make a living. Finally, he was sentenced to 15 months in jail, but it's highly unlikely he'll actually go to jail.
According to The New York Times, first-time offenders who receive sentences that are under two years rarely serve them, so there's a good chance he'll escape prison time. But he won't be able to make a living as a YouTube personality anymore, unless he opens up another channel and has someone else go on camera. If he does, here's hoping he stays away from poisoning people on the street for cheap laughs.