Posts Tagged ‘Bumfights’

Teachers Scrabble for Cash as Entertainment During American Football Game

January 9, 2022

Yeah, I know, I said I really shouldn’t be platforming mad right-winger Alex Belfield. But this is another genuinely interesting and concerning video he’s put up. It seems a group of teachers demeaned themselves as half-time entertainment in America during a game of American football. An insurance company donated a pile of cash and during the interval a group of teachers came on to scrabble physically for it, stuffing it down their shirt and jumper fronts, in order to get $10,000 each for their school to buy equipment. As you can see from the comments on his site, people compared it to the Hunger Games and the way the poor was forced to compete in that for food.

It’s a bit like Bumfights, a series of videos that came out over a decade ago, but with middle class educators rather than tramps and hoboes. Bumfights were made by a group of rich kids, and featured the homeless fighting each other or doing something equally demeaning in order to get a burger from the people videoing them. It was exploitation of the poorest and desperate. Someone has said since that the homeless people that appeared on these videos were actually paid much more than a simple burger, but this was left out of the cut. Well, perhaps. But it was still immensely tasteless and demeaning, nonetheless. And so is this.

I go the impression that the state schools in America are in crisis, just as they are over here. Various American governments have been trying to close down ordinary public schools and transform them into charter schools. These are, I believe, the American equivalent of our academies. This is often against the wishes of the local community, including parents, teachers and local clergy. Who are naturally ignored. One of those pushing ahead with this policy was Barack Obama, who has described himself as a moderate Republican rather than a Democrat. There’s also the right-wing push for home schooling to protect children against extreme left-wing indoctrination in schools with Queer and Critical Race Theory. Some of the poverty also comes from the peculiar way American public schools are funded. It comes out of local taxes. If the area’s affluent, then so are the schools. If it’s poor, then the local schools are too, and more likely to be poorly maintained and lacking needed equipment and teaching materials. It isn’t like that over here, but government funding to state schools has been increasingly cut so that it’s far less than many need, while governments from Blair onwards have given massive funding to the academies.

I dare say that the insurance company, who donated the money, and the organisers of this competition thought they were doing something noble. After all, game shows have featured people scrabbling for prizes ever since they were invented. But in their case, this is genuinely for entertainment. There isn’t an economic need motivating them, or not usually. And in the quizzes in which celebrities compete to win money for charity, dignity is preserved. You don’t see the celebs on the Chase physically scrabble for the cash on their hands and knees. But I’m afraid this nasty little piece of squalid entertainment could start a trend, and might come over here.

This is just exploiting people’s poverty. Schools everywhere should be properly funded so that they can afford to give their pupils the best education possible with the equipment and learning materials they need. And teachers should be properly paid as respectable professionals responsible for educating and inspiring the kids in their charge.

Vox Political: American Kids Sneering at the Homeless with Selfies

November 13, 2014

Mike has another piece worth reading on the latest trend amongst the fatuous and affluent in America. This is taking ‘selfies’, pictures of yourself with the destitute, and then laughing and jeering at them. The article’s entitled An import we DON’T need: homeless ‘selfies’, and begins

There a new fashion craze sweeping America’s rich, bored and – let’s face it – stupid kids, and it’s one that is sure to hit these shores at any time.

It involves – as the Addicting Info website puts it – “finding a homeless person and snapping an oh so outrageous selfie to post on Tumblr or Instagram. Then other youngsters come along to laugh and heap scorn on the mostly sleeping, ragged, destitute stranger”.

Oh how clever. How witty. How socially conscious.

The trouble is, as the site rightly pegs it, “the kids are reflecting the value our society places on homeless people. All it takes is a person to become dirty, smelly, and unkempt – and they become detritus, vermin – of no more note or merit than a rat or a pigeon”.

Given IDS’ own contempt for the poor and desperate, he wonders how long it will be before IDS’ teenage children or even IDS himself appears in one.

In fact, this kind of stupid exploitation of the poor for cruel laughs has been going on for a decade or more. I’d say it began with a set of videos called Bumfights. This was made by a rich, White kid, who would find vagrants and then make them perform degrading stunts and acts for trivial amounts of money. It was called Bumfights, because he’d get them to fight each other, in return for which he’d buy them a burger. In one case, he got one poor unfortunate to pull out a tooth with a pair of pliers. The video was heavily condemned, but it does seem to reflect the attitude of the vain, pointless and materialistic young, attitudes that have been fostered by decades of Neo-Liberal, Thatcherite propaganda.

Mike’s absolutely right in that sociologists have noted that we are less generous as a society towards the poor and unemployed. Jaynelinney in her blog has pointed to similar academic studies showing that people are more intolerant towards the disabled, and that abuse and violence towards them has risen in line with these attitudes.

It’s Yuppie values, the sneering attitude of the type of people Harry Enfield sent up with the character Loadsamoney. And there were and are people exactly like it. I can remember working briefly – for all of three days – for an independent financial consultancy in Clifton here in Bristol. Right in the middle of an exam to test our knowledge of insurance practice and law, the member of staff invigilating looked out the window to laugh at the sad state of a tramp in the park outside. ‘Too bad you can’t see it,’ he said.

This crew really did have the complete, yuppie attitude. I left on the third day there. Later on I found out through a friend that they’d been closed down by the two financial regulatory authorities, FIMBRA and LAUTRO. I was spectacularly unsurprised.

Unfortunately, although that company went, their attitudes remained and spread to the rest of the industry, and are now poisoning our society and our attitudes to the very poorest and most vulnerable.