Not OK. Photo via Flickr user hmmlargeart
If Jackass was the Velvet Underground of people filming their friends doing stupid things, then Bumfights was the genre's GG Allin—nihilistic, morally reprehensible, and devoid of any redeeming qualities whatsoever. I was 13 when the films came out, and I didn't have to watch them to understand the damage viral videos could cause. I lived outside of San Diego, where the videos were shot. Rufus Hannah and Donnie Brennan, the two homeless men who were paid small amounts of money and alcohol in exchange for allowing teens to film them abusing themselves, were locals. Mostly, they drank beers in front of the grocery store where I'd later work. On one occasion, shortly after Bumfights' teenage masterminds were arrested, I remember seeing a non-homeless man buying Donnie—recognizable because of the word BUMFIGHTS tattooed on his forehead—a doughnut inside Krispy Kreme.
In the 13 years since Bumfights, the proliferation of camera phones has meant that the number of people filming themselves and their friends doing stupid things has increased exponentially. Mostly these videos are boring; sometimes they're particularly stupid, like when teens set themselves on fire, but they rarely merit the kind of attention and outrage that Bumfights created. This week, though, a story involving a group of teens in Bay View, Ohio, managed to make Bumfights seem quaint.
The five boys, all between 14 and 17, convinced a 14-year-old autistic teen that he was doing the Ice Bucket Challenge. Then, instead of pouring ice water on him, they allegedly dumped some combination of pee, spit, cigarette butts, and shit. Because this is 2014, the teens uploaded video of the incident to Instagram. When the boy's mother saw the video on his cell phone, she went to police for help finding the teens responsible. Here's where things get funny again: At some point, Ohio native Drew Carey, currently host of television's The Price Is Right, found out about the video and, in the process of creating a positive PR story about himself, tweeted an offer to donate a $10,000 reward to local police for helping catch the jerks responsible. Somehow Jenny McCarthy—herself an autism expert—found out about the story and offered to double the reward. Her husband, Wahlburger co-owner Donnie Wahlberg, pledged another $10,000. The teens were then identified without help from the hypothetical $30,000, but no arrests have been made yet. Drew Carey tweeted that one of his "reps talked to family of autistic teen. They are overwhelmed by everyone's generous offers and are taking time to determine how to handle the charitable offers."
Meanwhile, a new report from 19 Action News suggests that this incident might be less horrific than it first appeared. The teens claim they had no idea that their friend was autistic, and that they only dumped spit and pee—no shit or cigarette butts. They say they’ve spent the whole summer playing pranks on each other like "bleaching of hair and shaving off an eyebrow while a teen is sleeping,” and that the autistic boy wasn’t singled out. But it's hard not to wonder whether these are just empty denials from a group of twisted teens trying to get out of trouble.
–Maybe today's teens are just getting way too relaxed with their bowel movements in general. According to Total Sorority Move, two freshman Alpha Delta Pi pledges at Mississippi State have been shitting all over campus, including on top of a cooler and in the front lawn of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house. While the image of sorority girls pooping across a Southern university is truly something special, this story seems a bit too good to be true. For one thing, most of the evidence is screenshots of the anonymous app Yik Yak. While there is a picture of a piece of shit on top of a Coleman cooler, it's really impossible to know whose poo it is or how it got there. Could this be a case of a sorority trying to smear its rivals? According to Total Sorority Move commenter donna_smith123, the truth is far more mundane: A sorority member got too drunk, was forbidden to leave a friend's room, and really had to go to the bathroom.
–"Imagine going to Walmart only to find that what you need is off the shelf. Not because it’s out of stock but because it’s been soaked with doe urine. That's right, from a female deer." That's how local news described an incident this week in Owasso, Oklahoma, where an 18-year-old and his older friend sprayed deer pee on $2,500 worth of merchandise. Police arrested the two for their weird prank, but despite the stilted severity of local news coverage, it's obvious that this was a pretty harmless joke. "It’s just kind of shameful. I mean, these kids need to grow up,” one Walmart customer said, clearly trying to hold back laughter.
–To be a teen is to fall in love way too easily. Usually it's with a person, but sometimes it's with jihad. In the case of the 19-year-old in Denver who this week pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, it was both. Shannon Conley went online and met a member of ISIS, America's newest declared enemy. She planned to join ISIS on the battlefield, or to help them as a nurse. FBI agents tried to dissuade Conley from joining the terrorist organization, but the teenage heart wants what it wants, and she was eventually arrested while trying to begin her journey to Syria at Denver International Airport.
–This week in correlation ≠ causation news, a new study found that teenagers who use marijuana every day are 60 percent less likely to graduate high school and seven times more likely to attempt suicide. True, marijuana probably doesn't help kids stay in school, and smoking weed might negatively affect some teens' brain development. But marijuana isn't making kids quit school and kill themselves. What's mostly going on here is that marijuana is illegal, and the types of teens who regularly break the law are the same ones who drop out of school and have mental health problems. A more accurate headline, then, is that teens who quit high school are more likely to smoke marijuana. Of course, no one would really consider that news.
–This week in teens wasn't all bad news. On Wednesday, skate photographer/filmer Bill Strobeck released Joyride, his follow-up to March's Supreme video. Joyride features skateboarding's best teens sweating through lower Manhattan, including past VICE interviewee Sean Pablo. Even if skateboarding's not your thing, you should really still give it a watch; between all the blood, sweat, and shirtless boys in jeans, the whole thing feels like a cross between Fashion Week and a Morrissey wet dream.
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