Viral video "Drunk Girl In Public" purports to be a "social experiment" showing men on Los Angeles' Hollywood Boulevard attempting to take advantage of a seemingly intoxicated woman. Now, some of those seen on camera are coming forward to say not only that the clip was a hoax but also that they were tricked into acting like attempted rapists, as reported by The Smoking Gun.
"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, a musician who also works for a tour bus company, said the filmmakers led him to believe that he was playing a character in a comedic short film.
He told HuffPost that he did give the crew his verbal consent on film to use footage of him, but he added, "I didn't expect them to try to make me look like some sexual predator."
Other people involved with the video have made similar claims to The Smoking Gun. Two anonymous sources, described as "familiar with the clip's production," told the site that filmmakers had informed the men in the video that they would be part of a "comedic, hidden camera" shoot. Another man who appeared in the clip, Mike "Mokii" Koshak, sent The Smoking Gun a private Facebook message allegedly from Seth Leach, a member of the film's production team, who told Koshak not to worry about the video and that the film team would "take care" of him.
Leach has not responded to a request for comment from The Huffington Post.
Stephen Zhang, the creator of the video, likewise did not respond to HuffPost's request for comment about the video's veracity. However, when he originally posted the video on Facebook, he included the statement, "We went out to Hollywood Blvd to see how guys would treat a young woman out on the streets."
Blaine said he had a rude awakening when the video went viral. It was picked up by numerous media outlets that, for the most part, unquestioningly reported the men's actions as real. (HuffPost UK did suggest the men might be acting.) Since then, Blaine said, he has been struggling to convince friends, family members and casual acquaintances of his innocence. He said he also fears aggression from strangers who may recognize him from the video.
"I'm worried about getting shanked," he told HuffPost. "Hollywood's a rough place."
Blaine added that since his acting was apparently so convincing, he hopes the video's notoriety can help him win other acting roles.
Just because this particular video may have been staged, however, does not mean that the behaviors portrayed are unrealistic. In an essay for The Frisky, one woman wrote that she was sexually assaulted under similar circumstances. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, one out of every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape.
UPDATE 11-18-2014: Jennifo Box, the actress who portrays the "drunk girl" in the video, made a video statement confirming that the men in the video were actors who behaved as "perfect gentlemen." She says that she was hired to perform in what was described to her as a "lighthearted prank show" and that she "never would have participated" had she known the damage the video would cause.
Additionally, the creators of the original video have made it private on YouTube. The version that appears above is a copy saved by The Smoking Gun.