Sometimes life is actually fair. Sometimes karma comes back and bites the bad guys in the ass, and I must admit, it’s nice to see genuine jackasses get their just desserts. And this could have been my chance.
But karma chickened out again Jan. 15, when San Diego Superior Court Judge Larrie Brainard dropped felony charges of battery and soliciting brought against the filmmakers responsible for “Bumfights: Cause for Concern,” the controversial video featuring homeless people committing acts of violence and performing dangerous and humiliating “stunts.”
One of the four video-makers will stand trial for conspiracy to stage an illegal fight, and the other three will be tried on charges of conspiracy to commit battery. The judge cited insufficient evidence as his reasoning for dismissing the felony charges.
If the accusers don’t appeal the case and reverse the decision, this will be all the reason I need to finally give up. Jackass culture is taking over, and the exploitation of the down-and-out is a legally condoned pastime.
The filmmakers claimed that the First Amendment
protects their work in the same way that it protects other companies hiring stuntmen. Despite the judge’s inability to convict the film’s creators of higher crimes, the movie teems with suspicious activities that should disgust any self-
In one segment, a man who calls himself “Steve Urban: Bum Hunter” spoofs The Crocodile Hunter as he duct tapes the hands, legs and mouths of homeless people, measures and tags them and releases them back into their “natural habitat.”
Rufus “The Stunt Bum” Hannah is the movie’s most prominent personality. Viewers see him fighting with other homeless men, riding in a shopping cart down a flight of stairs, putting his head through a sign at a fast-food drive-through and running into walls. His fingers are tattooed with the letters “B-U-M-F-I-G-H-T,” and the Web site sells sweaters with his likeness on them for $34.95. An area nurse even knew him by name.
Hannah and one other man, Donald Brennan, are suing the producers. Filmmakers taped Brennan having sex with a drug-addicted prostitute after producers paid him $100 to have the word “bumfight” tattooed on his forehead. The artist who applied Brennan’s tattoo said he seemed sober and wasn’t forced to do anything. Brennan seemed unconcerned while he was getting the tattoo and told the artist that he was going to be a movie star.
The movie also features footage of a man pulling out a tooth with a pair of pliers, a homeless woman named Porkchop attacking someone in a public bathroom, a man smoking crack and defecating on the sidewalk and many other repugnant scenes.
When asked how they came up with the idea, producer Ray Laticia said that he and his friends were, “interested in the inherent humor of something that hasn’t been touched upon in mainstream entertainment, which is homelessness.”
The inherent humor in homelessness. What’s wrong with that picture? Many critics herald this film as the final step into the cultural toilet. No single work should deserve credit for that great feat, but this video makes a strong contribution.
Supposedly, all participants were lucid enough to sign agreements and willing enough to perform the stunts; some even did it voluntarily, but what was the reasoning behind it?
According to various reports, producers paid the “stars” with alcohol, money, shelter and, when one of them was injured, they would take them in for treatment or let them recuperate in a hotel room. The “stars” also had a phone number to call when they were ready for more booze or money. Many of the participants were either alcoholics, heroin addicts or crack addicts.
With three of the film’s “stars” now speaking out against the filmmaker’s practices, it should be obvious that the creators of this movie took advantage of people who were desperate not only for material goods but for attention as well.
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His opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the Emerald.