Congratulations should surely go to Egyptian television programme Ramez in Control, for it has finally achieved the impossible. Until now, everything that Paris Hilton touched has been hilarious. Her singing career? Hilarious. That perfume she created called Fairy Dust? Hilarious. Her speaking voice, sense of entitlement and time spent in prison? All completely hilarious.
But now Ramez in Control has managed to put Paris Hilton in her first ever unapologetically non-hilarious situation. You see, Ramez in Control is a prank show, and its latest prank involved tricking Paris Hilton into believing that she was moments away from dying in a fiery aeroplane crash. She was in a plane, the engine stopped, it plummeted towards the ground and she started screaming and weeping hysterically, powerless against the certainty of her imminent demise.
While the clip of the prank is systematically being wiped from the internet as quickly as possible – perhaps because even the internet has some standards – it’s still worth watching if you can find it. Because chances are you won’t think, “LOL, look at Paris Hilton pleading for her life like a massive loser”, but “Oh, so that’s how I’d react if I thought I was going to die in the next few seconds.”
Unquestionably, the prank overstepped the mark by some distance, but it isn’t the first to do so. A few years ago on holiday, I watched a Maltese hidden-camera prank show where a succession of terrified passers-by were tricked into thinking that they’d just witnessed a drive-by shooting, exploding blood squib and all. Between all the desperate panic and horrified shrieking, I started to become quite nostalgic about Beadle’s About.
It’s relatively difficult to draw a comprehensive line between playing a simple prank and just being an arsehole. The man who pretended to throw his young son off a balcony in front of his wife? Arsehole. The electronics firm that fooled people into thinking the floor was falling out of their lift? Probably just pranksters. The Cambodian TV show that tricked a 13-year-old girl into believing that she was about to meet her long-lost mother? Complete arseholes. That time someone pretended to kidnap David Beckham? Actually that one turned out to be Rio Ferdinand, for an ITV show called World Cup Wind-Ups?
And yet, despite this, the Paris Hilton prank still seems like the worst one of all. It might be that all plane crashes are legitimately horrific, or it might be the length of time that the prank is allowed to continue, but it’s completely unsettling and absolutely not funny. Hopefully Paris will soon be able to release another horrible single, and then the joke will be on her again.