As the actress staggered through the street in search of a bus, she was regularly approached by men who noticed her fragile state and, instead of trying to help her, attempted to take her back to their homes. What started out as a conversation soon turned into false gestures of affection- hand holding, rubbing her back, all in their own way to appear as the knight in shining armour who just wanted to look after her. Although she suddenly appeared to sober up, telling the men she was 'feeling better' before leaving them bewildered, in a real life situation anything could have happened once they had taken her to their house and she could have been in a lot of danger.
Now despite feeling so horrified, so completely disgusted, a small part of me was glad that this had happened. Just one video had exposed the extent of women's vulnerability when drunk and the fact that some men are so willing to overpower these women and abuse their position of trust. Time after time when I have been on a night out with my friends I have seen girls in such an intoxicated state that they had no awareness of themselves or their surroundings, making it potentially very easy for predatory men target them.
So upon finding out that this video was in fact a hoax, I had gone around full circle and was just as angry, just as shocked as when I had first seen it.
In the last few days it was revealed that the men involved in the video were approached by film makers Stephen Zhang and Seth Leach, who asked them to participate in a 'comedic, hidden camera video.' 'Comedic'- I find that infuriating. I had such admiration towards the film makers for tackling such a serious issue for women, and yet all they could do was make a mockery of it and treat it like a joke. A 'hidden camera video' suggests a prank, some sort of trivial programme where someone is harmlessly scheming in the background, pranks their friend and by the end everyone is laughing, albeit a bit embarrassed. There is nothing funny about women being taken advantage of, preyed on and potentially raped when they are drunk- these aren't issues to be played with and are incredibly sensitive subjects.
The whole point of a social experiment is to see what will happen in a real life situation; whilst the woman was a hired actress, the video was supposed to portray how random men in the street treated her in her drunken state. Although these men weren't actors, they were aware they were in a 'hidden camera video' and so their reactions of trying to take her home were only for the cameras.
Upon claims that the video was staged, many people fought back, claiming that not all men would behave in that way. Whilst I completely agree that the majority of men would never think of doing such a thing, there are bad people out there and I really worry that all this video has done is make it harder for a woman to report a case of rape, worrying that people won't believe her or won't take it as seriously.
However, what bothers me more than the men's staged reactions is how the film makers were willing to portray them. These were all innocent men, one of which has claimed that he was asked to be involved in a 'sketch' where he would 'pick up this drunk girl and try to take her home, and that it would be really funny.' And yet now, they have been made to look like sexual predators who could have raped a young woman. How on earth can these film makers live with themselves? Rapists and people who have sexually assaulted others are some of the worst people in the world and their behaviour should never be condoned or glorified. Neither should people be compared to them unless that is how they behave. The video has accumulated nearly 9.5 million views on Youtube in the week that it has been uploaded, and was only declared as a hoax a few days ago, meaning that millions of people around the world could still believe that these men are predators. Nevertheless, the film makers think that they can justify this by telling one of the men involved that 'this video is going to get you well known.' How they can justify presenting men as predators by saying that it's their claim to fame is completely beyond me.
Above all else I am disappointed. The video bought me a certain sense of relief in that I thought we were making progress in raising awareness for the safety of women, particularly when in an intoxicated and vulnerable state. However, all it has done is take a step backwards thanks to some incredibly ignorant film makers trying to make it big by being controversial. I can only take comfort in the internet's outpour of criticism and anger towards these film makers since the video was revealed to be a hoax. Clearly this is a cause that so many people across the world value and want to be taken seriously, which in itself, means that we are making a small step towards progress.