Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bumfights - A Video Too Far Documentary

In this documentary we see that Bumfights is an independent video series originally created by Indecline Films. The videos feature homeless individuals in the San Diego and Las Vegas counties of the U.S. fighting and attempting amateur stunts in exchange for money, alcohol, and other incentives. The first video, Bumfights: A Cause for Concern, was produced by Ryan McPherson, with friends Zachary Bubeck, Daniel J. Tanner, and Michael Slyman, as Indecline Films. Shortly after sales began to escalate, Indecline Films sold the rights to two investors, who went on to produce three sequels.

The videos immediately gained criticism from the mainstream public and became one of the most discussed news stories of 2002. The US-based National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) has stated that Bumfight videos disseminate hate against the homeless and dehumanize them. In April 2006, the four original filmmakers agreed to pay three homeless men depicted in the videos and to not produce any more "Bumfights" videos or distribute videos already made, under a settlement announced as a lawsuit was to go to trial.

The videos have proven to be highly controversial. They have been banned in a number of countries including Great Britain, and most traditional retail outlets have refused their sale. The popular internet auction site eBay routinely cancels listings which contain copies of the video, citing their policy which prohibits the sale of materials which promote or glorify violence. In the state of California, both felony and misdemeanor charges were filed against the producers, as well as civil lawsuits; in 2005, the producers were sentenced to six months in prison for having failed to complete the community service to which they had previously been sentenced. The filmmakers maintain that the production of the video was a mutually beneficial arrangement and that the homeless people depicted freely chose to participate.

The films have likewise been blamed for inspiring a number of violent teenage attacks on the homeless, both in the United States and other countries. In 2004, three teenagers from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, severely beat and killed a homeless man by the name of Rex Baum. The following year, four teenagers from Holly Hill, Florida, attacked and killed Michael Roberts, a homeless man whom they found in the woods. They confessed to beating Roberts for three hours, after which he died. A group of suburban Nevada teenagers, who took on the moniker "311 Boyz", also faced criminal charges, including attempted murder, after filming several violent exploits inspired by Bumfights. The suspects attempted to make a profitable video by instigating fights around their neighborhoods, in some instances imposing on unwilling participants.

Want more on this topic...

No comments: