There's a Christmas morning video spreading over the Internet the past two days, in which a naughty boy gets the modern lump of coal: an empty box instead of a PlayStation. It looks outrageous. Remember, though, this is on YouTube. And this kind of prank has gone on there for years.
The latest one has gone viral over the past couple of days in large part for its shamelessness. The victim, and he barely looks 10 years old, is told by his mom he got an empty box because of poor grades in school. His uncle, presumably the benefactor, pursues the upset boy into the apartment hallway, cackling with laughter. And worst of all, the entire thing is filmed vertically.
This video has been uploaded several times to YouTube and other sites, including LiveLeak and WorldStarHipHop. I can't determine which, if any, is the original; I also can't even tell you that this is legit. It may very well be, but there's also a history of videos like this, and some of them raise an eyebrow or two.
Six years ago—practically the dawn of YouTube—another video went nuclear, racking up 2.2 million views since then. That's not including the hundreds of thousands of views going to the accounts that ripped it off. It too featured a boy apparently younger than 10 years old. And it too captured his look of disbelief and broken trust as he opened an Xbox 360 box and discovered the most hated of all Christmas gifts when you're that age: Clothes!
From the description on the original video:
My mom decided to get my younger brother an xbox 360 for Christmas...he decided to peek the night before so my mom decided to teach him a lesson.....this its the result....yes he did eventually get it...
Well, that's interesting. In the latest video, Antoine (the victim) knows almost instantly it's a PS4—and it sounds like he saw the box before it was wrapped the day before. Just like the kid in the Xbox prank video.
Not only that, a quick search for "playstation christmas prank" gives you this, with half a million views, from 2009.
The victim also is the nephew of the uploader and his alleged transgression also is "acting up in school." He gets a PS3 box loaded with the goddamn Random House Dictionary of the English Language. Half-a-million views. Everyone laughs, including the mark.
I can speak from experience here, though not as someone who wanted a console. Twenty-seven years ago, my older brother and I would feel around the edges of our wrapped gifts under the tree and toss the ones that were obviously books (a spine and pages were easily revealed) or clothes (soft-sided cardboard box: dead giveaway) into a shit pile to open last with feigned looks of gratitude. That year, my brother's present to me was a book. I could have murdered him even before unwrapping it. But when I did, I'm not making this up, I discovered a copy of Dianetics. Yes, the manual of bullshit from L. Ron Hubbard himself. My father nearly choked on his sugar cake holding back the laughter. Finally I leafed through the book and found my brother had hollowed out the pages inside, prison contraband style, to conceal my real gift, an album. (On cassette. It was 1986 after all).
And the majority of these prank videos contain that kind of payoff. Even what appears to be the case zero of the Console Fakeout—a 2006 video involving a Dreamcast of all things, the victim understands it's a gag, probably because the gift-giver, his cousin, was around the same age.
"No, I'll just ... keep it," he says ruefully. Although, hell, that's a Dreamcast! I'd hang onto it, too. "Want to come over to my house to play mine?" asks another relative. Owwwwwch. Views: 785,820.
This next video is more current—coming five days before Christmas this year. The "victim"—who we can tell from the dialogue has already received an Xbox One—unwraps a gift to find a shoddy forgery of a PS4 box. But, lo and behold, an actual PS4 is inside.
And here's one, also from Christmas morning this year: The parents whipped up a note on fake Walmart letterhead apologizing for not having a PS4 in stock until Jan. 17. When he's good and bummed out they drop the real thing on him.
Searching for "playstation christmas prank," "xbox christmas prank" "wii christmas prank" turns up scads of examples. Hell, it even returned this classified ad listing for a PS4, whose seller was also throwing in an empty PS3 box to help parents with the fake-out. "Once they do decide to then by open the ps3 box to reveal the sought after PS4, you will be the Christmas hero."
It is rough to watch a little kid have a Christmas wish wrecked. By the end I was begging for Antoine to be surprised with a real PS4. My only hope here is I think the broader context—that empty console boxes have been used as the ultimate gotcha for years now—at least leaves open the possibility that it didn't really end in tears and shame for this kid or his family.
This is from 2011. Console: PS3. Victim: "Little cousin," grimacing as he stacks up the VHS tapes (!) loaded inside the empty box.
He says, "I've seen this trick on YouTube."