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Feckless YouTubers, The Homeless Are Not Tools of Self Promotion

There's nothing wrong with doing a nice thing for someone. There is, however, quite a few things wrong with doing it for online validation and ad revenue.

Sometimes you see a video so bad it ruins your day. Sometimes curiosity will get the better of you and you'll end up watching a guy having his face torn up in a windscreen because he's an idiot and was trying to jump over a car hurtling towards him at 40mph.

Recently, my day was ruined as soon as I saw this:

It's a video of YouTuber fouseyTUBE attempting to profit from the milk of human kindness by pretending to be homeless and – get this – giving passersby money instead of the other way around.


Initially, the most insulting thing about the video is how incredibly staged it is. Most of these YouTubers-interacting-with-the-masses videos are fake, but this one doesn't even really try to convince you otherwise.

Fousey's impression of a homeless man is incredibly offensive for a number of reasons. For one, you very rarely see homeless people without shoes. This isn't fucking Galilee in 20 AD; it's most likely downtown LA, and he's most likely sat opposite the kind of coffee shop that has a comedy chalk noticeboard outside it. Secondly, at least cover up your lovely moisturised post-gym biceps before you try to act like the Dirt King of Skid Row.

Fousey isn't the first to employ homelessness as a tool for views. Noted prankster and all around dreadful ultra-jock Vitaly Zdorovetskiy – better known as VitalyzdTv – used homeless men as props in his video series "Extreme Homeless Makeover". In these videos he claims to actually be a really cool guy, when he's not trying to embarrass women on the street by asking them out and then driving off in a Ferrari when they spurn him. To demonstrate these cool-guy credentials he takes the homeless men on a little road trip, gives them a shower, a haircut, new clothes and a hotel for the night, filming every part of a process. In doing so he makes the whole process about him, the homeless man just bewildered by the situation – enjoying it, of course, but bewildered nonetheless. Just a disposable item in a wealthy man's conveyor belt of human exploitation.


YouTubers can be untrustworthy at the best of times, but their interactions with the public are definitely the source of most of their troubles. For instance, who could forget former Big Brother contestant and adenoidal sex pest, Sam Pepper? At the end of last year he uploaded a video of himself stood on the streets of LA (most of these internet stars live in either LA or Brighton, apparently) wearing a hoodie with his hands in his pockets. Here's the kicker: his hands weren't actually in his pockets. One was, but the other was just an empty sleeve tucked inconspicuously away. What fun! Was he going do that thing where you put your hand into the front of your shirt, hold your sleeve and pump it up and down? No – he did something even better: he groped women's buttocks while pretending to ask for directions!

Pepper was roundly and rightfully pilloried for his display of harassment, but somehow managed to palm it off by making up some shit about it being a "social experiment" on the dangers of harassment and abuse towards men. It sadly blew over, and Pepper still operates with 2 million-plus subscribers. If you go on his page there is a video called "60 SECONDS THAT WILL CHANGE HOW YOU THINK".

Well, well, well – it's our favourite money maker, our favourite tear-jerker, our favourite wow-rly-makes-u-think provoker: the homeless man. Sam asks for a slice of pizza from someone sat in a restaurant. They say no. He then asks a homeless man eating a pizza the same question, and the guy is more than willing to relinquish a slice for the famished Pepper.


Haven't we all learnt a lovely lesson? It doesn't matter how bad things get, the milk of human kindness will spray from the udders of the good and righteous. Everyone's happy, the end.

But it isn't the end. After Pepper or Vitaly or Fousey turn their cameras off and get their thousands of dollars in ad money and click counts – after they receive gifts and adoration from their fans – the homeless people they've exploited continue to get nothing, continue to be ignored unless they play a part in some arsehole's ploy for online validation. They're looked down upon as lessers being assisted by the kind and generous YouTube sugar daddies, using the poor and marginalised for our entertainment. It's ostensibly feel-good, but if it actually makes you feel good you're probably either stupid or a sociopath.

There's nothing wrong with doing nice things for people. There is, however, a lot of things wrong with doing those things for personal gain. If you want to work in a soup kitchen, that's brilliant; just don't do it with a fucking GoPro stuck to your face.


More stuff about this kind of stuff:

How Are YouTubers Going to Change the Publishing Industry

Are Vloggers Ripping Off Fans for Meet and Greets?

Vain and Inane: The Rise of Britain's Dickhead Vloggers