Sunday, 10 January 2010

When is an outdoor ad actually a homeless person?

Happy New Year everyone. I'm back from a restful holiday and aside from a snow related cold, 2010 is starting off well. As I'm currently in bed recovering from the effects of a cold and scouring the Sunday morning interwebs, I noticed this story on a few sites and which seemed to ask an interesting point.

Source: Link

      The story behind all of these articles is based on promotions for the new Michael Cera movie "Youth in Revolt". David Permut, a television and movie producer associated with the film, has paid Ronald, a homeless man he passes on the way to work, $100 dollars to hold the movie's poster for the day under his normal sign.

     The reaction to this new media channel's creation hasn't yet been widespread or uniquely loud as a Google news search turned up 0 references of this and a Technorati search pointed to two blog entries (the original Nikki Finke story and Gawker). However, when comparing the opinions in both the articles and posted comments of the few sources that have covered this, there seems to be a rather defined split between those that view using a homeless individual in this way is exploitation and those that view $100 as a useful benefit to someone who normally makes $.50 to $1 a donation.

      Looking at it, my first reaction is to say that because Ronald isn't in a position to say "no" to $100, there is a small bit of exploitation. That being said, the more I think about it, the more I think that it truly is job creation for the man and it doesn't seem to being doing him any harm. People on the whole (especially in large cities like LA, NY & London), tend to ignore the transient, so anything that gets some response or moment of attention without degradation is useful. It could be argued that this may dehumanize the individual in a way, but I think society has done that to a much greater degree way before this was conceived.

     The risk in this situation is truly on the film, the producer and the associated brands. If this were to be done on a larger scale, or if this one occurrence were to be widely publicized, then the quick first reaction of the consuming public may be closer to what I initially thought, over what I came to with rationalization.

         Overall, is this different than paying someone to wear a sandwich board and stand on the street? No, and it's probably more lucrative as someone would have to work longer than a day to make $100 at minimum wage after taxes. Is this a signal of things to come? Probably not, as I highly doubt (using London as an example) that I'll see some homeless individual holding a sign next to Tesco reminding me to pickup a certain brand of pasta.

            What does everyone else think? Is this exploitation or a useful way to help the less fortunate?

1 comment:

  1. This morning I read Diane Garnick's comment on her Facebook Fan Site about the the Avatar movie and the homeless.

    I think it's gerat that the homeless are at least getting attention. Many times, that's what they crave. They want people to see them.

    At least he's getting noticed... would you ever have written about this guy if he didn't have the sign?