REPORT

The YouTube masochists

By Jeremy Wilson

During the noughties, a generation of young people grew up glued to the antics of a group of friends performing stunts and pranks on the hit MTV show Jackass. While the Jackass crew were a source of mild amusement for most people, some viewers, mainly males with the same survival part of the brain missing as the Jackass crew, found themselves eager to emulate their heroes.

With accusations of their pranks encouraging youngsters to do stupid things, MTV repeatedly ran the following warning: “The following show features stunts performed either by professionals or under the supervision of professionals, Accordingly MTV and the producers must insist that no one attempt to recreate or re-enact any stunt or activity performed on this show”.

Suddenly, nobodies with a camera and a death wish could go viral.

With MTV refusing to even view the avalanche of videos sent to them by Jackass wannabes, young men with a penchant for danger recorded their antics on clunky video recorders and built small local followings by hawking VHS tapes. Their daring exploits of shooting pins into their forehead with rubber bands were cruelly destined to never reach a sizeable audience.

Then YouTube happened. Suddenly, nobodies with a camera and a death wish could go viral. Groups of young men gave themselves Jackass-style names and went on to prove the “supervised by professionals” thing at the beginning of Jackass wasn’t the joke that everyone thought it was.

With nothing to reign in their actions, these groups have committed to camera phone stomach-churningly gonzo footage of terrifyingly dangerous “stunts”. It’s not a case of if this type of thing carries on, someone will die. They already have.

A group of Germans calling themselves the “Bavarian Dumbasses” attached a BMW to a playground merry-go-round by rope and accelerated away. The Dumbass member left on the carousel died from head injuries after being sent flying.

Despite the dangers, hormonally charged young men continue to post ever more extreme videos to the internet. The YouTube business model is brutal, if you don’t get views you don’t get paid. The best way to secure a new viral hit is outdo the competition.

We took a look at some of the more extreme stunt offerings on YouTube to rate them for danger of causing serious bodily harm to their producers.

Children of Poseidon

Children of Poseidon are a group of three friends from Perth who perform sickeningly dangerous stunt on their YouTube channel. Most of their biggest hits involve cacti and doing unspeakable things to their genitals. It’s hard to choose the most shocking Poseidon video, but their viral hit “Cactus Body Slam” is a must watch.

Danger rating: ■■■■■■

Painful but unlikely to be life threatening.

La Fênix

La Fênix are a Brazilian group with a prolific output of self harm. Their oeuvre includes dancing on pins and scarring themselves with deodorant, but it’s their public service on how to avoid having children that demonstrates their biggest disregard to their well being.

Danger rating: ■■■■

Could lead to a ruptured testicle.

André Degaspery

At the other end of the scale to the full time YouTubers are one hit wonders such as this group who copied a La Fênix video that gives new meaning to the phrase “skidmark”. It’s less bloody than the La Fênix original, but fairly wince inducing none the less.

Danger rating: ■

Just horrible.

BallzandWeiner
Despite having relatively few views, BallzandWeiner have amassed an impressive output of stunt videos. In their own words they are “UNDERGROUND YOUTUBE LEGENDS”. Their Microwave Catapult Headshot does what it says on the tin.

Danger rating: ■■■■

Concussion is more likely than brain damage.

The Janoskians

The Janoskians (Just Another Name Of Silly Kids) are the nauseating One Direction of the YouTube stunt world. They boast teen pop sensation status with an army of female fans and a lucrative deal with Sony Music Australia. The all-singing all-dancing group have a string of sweary boy band singles that are almost more terrifying than the admittedly mild string of stunts.

Danger rating: ■■

It’s painful but a bit lame.

UnderDetention

Low production values and lack of creativity are hallmarks of the UnderDetention YouTube channel. This is what happens when you give suburban American teens a camera and access to the internet.

Danger rating: ■■■■

It’s surprising no limbs were broken.

Jesse Sebastiani

The friends behind this YouTube channel are nothing if not ambitious. They don’t often try dangerous stunts, but when they do they don’t do things by half measures. A case in point is when they soaked a hay bale in diesel, stood on it and set it on fire as part of an elaborate motorcycle stunt attempt

Danger rating: ■■■■■■■■

This could have been much worse.

FPSRussia

The extremely popular YouTube channel FPSRussia is run by Georgia resident Kyle Myers who manages to get his hands on and demonstrate an impressive range of firearms. His gimmick, apart from putting on a Russian accent and calling himself Dimitri Potapoff, is planting explosives on targets and shooting them. It’s fair to say he didn’t carry out a health and safety assessment before shooting this fridge with a Saiga-12 fully automatic shotgun.

Danger rating: ■■■■■■■■■

A reasonable chance of death with this one.

Fhat Sam

The young men behind Fhat Sam look like the type of people who wouldn’t think twice about choking each other till they pass out for giggles. That’s exactly what they do.

Danger rating: ■■■■■■■■■■

At least one teen has died trying this stunt.

Sh!!t Stunts

Sh!!t Stunts are the embodiment of the DIY amateur stunt movement. With a small series of low quality videos to their name, they have one moderate hit in which one of their members, Damon Reynolds, tapes five firecrackers to his face and lights them.

Danger rating: ■■■■■■■

A good way to lose an eye.