A New Form of Vanity Porn: Giving Money to the Homeless and Filming How Awesome You Are

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By Francis Nicholson

Graphic-SRROur social-media-hungry, attention-seeking, YouTube-watching, vine-uploading culture is wonderful at creating new forms of self-congratulatory vanity. Over the last few years, I have seen pop up here and there the saintly act of people going around giving homeless people free food or money. These “Good Samaritans” have their film crews secretly watching them dispense good will and unabashed generosity, kind of like a modern day Jesus, but in jeans. “Wow! What a guy!,” you may think. Yet, I would urge you to think again and to take a more cynical and even hyper-judgmental angle like myself. (Trust me, there is nothing more rewarding than taking a morally superior position to those claiming a morally superior position.)

OK, the altruist is not organising bum fights (Jeremy Kyle has now cornered that market) or anything like that, but let’s not forget that this 3 min YouTube video you watch is about the giver and not the receiver. Be it for commercial gain, scout badges or just because they are looking for a nice, warm and fuzzy feeling, being charitable in this context has an agenda. As soon as you record and upload it for all to see, your charity has stopped being charity and become vanity porn. It’s degraded into “Hey! Look at me! I am so giving and caring! Check me out! Me, a white guy, giving a homeless black man a Big Mac!” The whole shtick of giving to those who have less than us and performing random acts of kindness is also possible without uploading it on YouTube. These “selfless” givers may encourage people to do the same, but back the fuck off from posting it on YouTube. Check out the 8 million plus views and the email they attach for business inquires that leads you to a management consultancy that claims,

Our core management principles are built on the belief that the relationship between an artist and their audience is the most powerful control point in the new digital economy and our unparalleled resources in this area are a testament to our commitment to support our client’s ability to operate their businesses in the most cutting-edge and independent manner possible.

Welcome to the wonderful world of the charity business. Chairty be like, it pays bitches!! Let’s be clear: real generosity and genuine charity is done anonymously. There is good reason that in many spiritual traditions charity is encouraged to be anonymous for they know the pride, egotism and indirect superiority that being charitable can give a person. Let’s also not forget the white man’s burden that permeates in much of what you see. Look I am happy to see people doing this kind of thing. Go knock yourself out. Getting to the root cause of why there is homelessness in the first place, however, I guess is a question they are happy to leave to others. Furthermore, many of the versions of this charitable grandstanding parade as examples of Christian ministry; perhaps they should go back and actually read their good book.

Matthew 6:1-4

Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you [i.e, put it on YouTube] as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret;(8 million views is not a well kept secret) and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”

 

 

 

 

 

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