Skeptic Turtle's Blog-O-Rama

Said here: 'Very emasculating.'
NOVEMBER 16, 2010 11:19AM

So it's come to this? Caging people for money

Rate: 6 Flag

We all continue to struggle under the boot of the George W. Bush economy. Nonprofits are included.

The ones that survive have needed to find creative ways to raise funds. Now, they're locking people in cages for our viewing enjoyment.

Inside a "cage" is Ben. Ben works for Bedlam Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is a former colleague of mine at Bedlam. (I am no longer associated with Bedlam.)

Bedlam is a radical, edgy place, as its name implies. They've put on original, award winning works about turduckens made by renaissance fest rejects and mermaids plotting to kill Salvador Dali. So, it's not a surprise they'd raise money by creating a 24 hour live stream of a guy in a cage.

And it's not just that. For every 25 donors, Ben gets a snack of the donors' choosing. For every 100 donors, Ben gets a bathroom break.  In the first ten hours, they got 30 donors.  Poor Ben.

Why would you watch a guy in a cage? Well, there's more. They started the stream with multiple people rehearsing a play and mock "bear" fights and talking about what they're going to do with the funds. It's educational and interesting. At times.

The day is part of a statewide, online giving campaign, called Give to the Max.  Nonprofits across Minnesota are asking donors for money during this 24 hour period. Many donations are matched. I created my own fundraising page for my favorite nonprofit.  Here's Bedlam Theatre's page.

I care about this nonprofit. I know these people. So I don't think I can objectively evaluate this approach. So...

Is this an appropriate way to raise money? Is it a sign of the degradation of our reality TV society? Or is it an edgy way to raise a little bit of much needed money?


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Assuming they don't actually starve Ben or make him wet himself on live stream, I suppose it's appropriate. Barely.

The appropriateness of this won't really be able to be gauged until we see how far this group/person is willing to take the concept. If no one donates enough for a bathroom break, will he be forced to defecate on himself? If no one donates enough for a reasonable amount of snack, will Ben starve? How long will he remain in the cage?

I assume he's a willing participant and can say "No" at any point and get out of the cage. If that's the case, well... more power to him if he can convince people to give his cause money, I guess. Is this any more bizarre than David Blaine submerging himself in a sphere of water (for considerably more money and fame, by the way)?
Does the amount of money make a difference? Maybe?

Ben is in the cage for 24 hours regardless of the donation goals. He has willingly consented to the arrangement. He will get his first snack in a few minutes and they're giving him water.

I don't know how the bathroom break will work out. They set a high bar.
They just fed him some veggie chili.
Correction, the snack chosen was beef steak nuggets with a warm beer.
... I thought this was going to be about the private prison industry
I'm worried about the bathroom thing.
Noah, the original Bedlam was one of the first private mental hospitals. So I guess that's appropriate. They'd give tours and make patients do humiliating things in order to make money. That was 500 years ago.

Ablonde, as I watch, I get more nervous about the bathroom. They're only to the halfway point in number of donors needed.
Kind of shitty to give him warm beer too.
Ablonde, especially because I think it was a really crappy beer.
Now he earned some pork rinds.