Remember that video about the "drunk girl" getting propositioned by men on the street that went viral last week? Well, the entire thing has been unraveling quicker than that ugly sweater my grandma made me for Hanukkah once. Turns out the "drunk girl" was "duped "into the video. Just like the dudes. Just so some people could make a couple of bucks by focusing on a hot-button issue.
If you haven't seen the video (which has now been made private), it featured an apparently drunk woman wandering around in Hollywood and asking men for help. All of the men invited her home with them instead of getting her into a taxi. What this was supposed to prove: Virtually all men are looking for sex regardless of consent. What this actually proved: Bad acting and lots of editing will get lots of views.
The video, which was a sort of response to Hollaback's catcalling video, received several million views before it was taken down and it certainly stirred up a lot of conversation, but it turns out the entire thing was fake from the sleazy dudes to the "drunk girl" who now says she was also tricked into being in "the social experiment." (Just FYI: Any time someone uses the phrase social experiment for anything, you should just run as quickly as you can the other way. This includes those times when your friends on Facebook post "ThIs iS a SocAl ExpRmNt tO SeE WhO ReDs My PoSts" and demands that you tell them 15-27 things you like about them.)
The Smoking Gun reports that the dudes who were in the video were upset about how they were represented, but were told to just "go with it." Which....really?
When one of the men seen in the clip complained bitterly about his portrayal as a would-be rapist, one of the video's creators sent a private Facebook message advising him to, "Just go with it dude, you are in our team now and we will take care of you."
The men shown in the video—each of whom is seen trying to lure Box (seen above) to their residence or vehicle—were recruited by [Stephen] Zhang and sidekick Seth Leach, who, days before the video was shot, wrote on his Facebook page that he was, "Shooting some videos in LA all day Thursday and need a good actress. If you live in Los Angeles or have a friend who does and is an actress, tag them/hit me up!"
The men in the video were told that they would be appearing in a student film and had no idea that they'd be portrayed as probable rapists for millions of people worldwide. The Smoking Gun also reports that none of the men were asked to sign releases or fill out any other paperwork.
Now, the woman who was the star of the film, Jennifer Box, has come out to apologize for her involvement and to let the world know that she was also misled.
As Uproxx points out, it's hard to fault Box for taking the job, considering how difficult it is for actresses in Hollywood. Several of my friends are out there trying to make it big and I know they take any job they can get. Sometimes that backfires. At least Box is trying to clear her co-stars' names before any of this gets entirely out of hand. And she looks pretty chastened. But she's not the one who should be apologizing; it should be the video's creators.
I'm just going to agree with my coworker Hillary Crosley on this one, though. Regardless of intent, these goddamn videos need to stop. Not before someone gets hurt, but before people just sideye any new issue that comes up and dismisses it as fake. Because women getting assaulted? That's a real fucking thing and real shitty to be making hoax videos about.