“‘Drunk girl in public’ prank will make you lose faith in humanity” read the headlines of Metro, Blender Fox, and London Report. The “Drunk Girl” video went viral, garnering 4.5 million views, and showcasing a series of men conspiring to take advantage of an intoxicated Los Angeles woman as she walks down Hollywood Boulevard in the middle of the day.
Yesterday The Smoking Gun reported that the viral video titled “Drunk Girl In Public”, despite being advertised as a “social experiment” spun to appear authentic to viewers, is actually faked and scripted.
Stephen Zhang, 20, the creator of the video, apparently tried to profit off the trend of the 35 million-view Hollaback! video that showed a woman enduring street harassment through catcalls as she walked across New York City.
“Drunk Girl In Public” stars actress Jennifer Box, 24, who plays a woman swaying down a street and taking swallows of beer from a paper bag in broad daylight. As time passes, a few men approach and try to take advantage of her.
On first viewing it seemed real, but everyone but the bystanders in the video is an actor.
If you ever wondered why any of these supposed lowlifes didn’t have their faces blurred, it’s because they were aware of their participation. Blurred faces of people are usually a result of the lack of consent from a signed release form. In this case, the crew behind “Drunk Girl In Public” took advantage of the actors’ verbal contract.
The men in video are seen trying to lure Box back to their home or car were all recruited by Zhang and his coworker Seth Leach. Before the video was shot, Leach posted 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!”
So why were the male actors participating in a video that would otherwise defame them and potentially ruin their lives? They were duped with the premise that it was for comedy.
"A couple people asked me if I'd be part of their video, if I wouldn't mind 'acting out a little skit,'" Josh Blaine, 32, told The Huffington Post.
"They told me I needed to pretend to pick up this drunk girl and try to take her home, and that it would be really funny."
Blaine, the shaggy haired man who wore sunglasses in the video drives a Hollywood tour bus. He said that the filmmakers fooled him into thinking that he’d be playing a character in a comedic short film.
Blaine also told The Huffington Post that although he gave the producers of the film his verbal consent to use the footage of him, he was shocked to find later that he was portrayed as a sexual predator in a supposed social experiment played off as real.
"I didn't expect them to try to make me look like some sexual predator."
Blaine mentioned in a message to his Facebook friends that he did “a favor for some camera crew guess this is what I get for being agreeable to [sic] someones project.” He added, “It was supposed to be a funny skit. Here’s to watching back with virtually no friends. fuck my life.”
One of the other purported predators in the video is street musician “Ashtray”, a man who makes a living on the streets of Hollywood Boulevard by playing buckets as drums.
Mike “Mokii” Koshak, the backwards cap blue tank top wearing man in the video works as a sales representative for LA Epic, a firm that sets up nightclub crawls. In the video, Koshak offers Box to come back to his place for “more beer.”
Christine Peters, Koshak’s boss and LA Epic owner told The Smoking Gun that “Mokii was taken advantage of” when asked to “say a couple of lines for a comedy sketch.” Peters said, “They made it seem like he was trying to take the girl home.” If you watch the video closely, you’ll notice that Koshak is wearing a company t-shirt and hat, to which Peters said she was upset that the firm was “dragged into it,” since they “don’t condone such behavior.”
Koshak posted on Facebook to assure his friends that the “Drunk Girl In Public” video “was all staged and all of the people in it were acting,” and that the clip “does not portray myself or any of the other people in it correctly.”
“It’s a false ass portrayal and I was lied to about what the video even was. Faulty ass shit.”
Leach happened to see Koshak’s Facebook posts and sent him a private message, acknowledging the video was staged, but typing:
“The important thing to consider is that the video is going to get you well known and have a future with us and our company.”
Leach promised Koshak a night of free drinks, and continued that “We are going to be huge and you are apart of it.”
“Just go with it dude, you are in our team now and we will take care of you.”
In response to the overwhelming attention that “Drunk Girl In Public” received, Leach posted earlier this week that the video was “on the homepage of pretty much every news and media website you can think of.”
Due to The Smoking Gun breaking the story, a number of YouTube users weighed in to comment on the original video, stating that the general public was fooled and bought into it.
YouTube user Rob Dyke typed:
“This video bases its success off of the facts that...
1) Most people are idiots and will believe anything
2) Most people LOOKING for these kinds of blatant issues will believe it even if it's obviously staged
3) Rape is evil and men are evil therefore men are evil rapists
Stephen Zhang, you have CONTRIBUTED to the problem. You have exploited "rape culture" in order to turn a profit and get some attention. If you weren't already exposed for staging this video, I would have loved to have strung you up. You're pathetic. Sick and tired of these bullshit "social experiments".”
Despite this individual video being a completely fake, it does not mean that those type of behaviors don’t exist in the world. One woman who wrote an essay for The Frisky mentioned that she encountered similar sexual assaults.
Claim for defamation lawsuit, anyone?