The past several weeks have been a noticeably odd, mostly uncomfortable time-place to be situated in New York. Those are arguably fine descriptors for what it’s like all the time here, but the past several weeks of protests, riots, and unease surrounding racial violence have especially stirred the city. At the same time, the current issues surrounding the city are but a microcosm of the larger problems facing contemporary society.
In the wake of extreme levels of controversy surrounding everything from geo-political issues of terrorism to the horrific trends of police brutality happening in our own country, it becomes an impending need to grapple with the media. The idea of “truth” becomes malleable, able to be twisted and tweaked. Ambiguities grow and sides form. Reality is changed. And then you have the Ice Bucket Challenge.
The Ice Bucket Challenge was a viral phenomenon that had the best intentions, but under the label of charity. Despite being rooted in the spirit of solidarity, many opinions are that the challenge itself involved hundreds of thousands of people engaging in something that was ultimately masturbatory and non-sensical. Admittedly, the money the movement raised is inspiring to the say the least, and a really beautiful and impressive outcome from the idea. However, people could be a part of the movement without donating. To escape pledging money, one could simply pour a bucket of ice on their head while filming it, which is what follows for the vast majority of the challenges we’ve seen.
What’s worse is that the challenge demonstrates what it means to be in the spotlight of American attention. The challenge holds attention on its issue for about thirty seconds or less before the person involved just sort of moves on. It demonstrates the constant shifting and replacing of what is happening in the public eye. Today, we briefly pay attention to an issue, pass over it, and then it becomes dull. The challenge itself was merely a commodified fad mashed together with other commodified fads taking place on the American mediascape, only temporarily, of course.
Regardless, the Ice Bucket Challenge was something that became incredibly popular and sparked full national attention that set out to combat something awful. And so, what would the ISIS Bucket Challenge be?
A national attention towards ISIS similar in magnitude to the one that was for ALS disease seems inconceivable, and really just plain comical. So comical, in fact, that it makes one ponder the backwards way in which the American media frames ISIS… bathing a group that feeds off of fear in the light of fear. And even so, ISIS works in the same way ALS did in our media; it comes and goes as a “hot topic” and then fades away into the backs of our minds.
Luckily for Americans, the horror of ISIS is not something engrained in the everyday perspective, so ignoring it becomes as easy as pouring ice water on yourself for likes and shares and comments.
In some weird way, we hope this video inspires some thought about the nature of “going viral” and the function of media. This is whether it is unfolding in the Middle East, across America, in a Missouri town, or in New York City.
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Starring: Andrew Kane and Vomit Comet
Filmed by: Liam Paris
Music mixed and recorded by: Ricky Berotti
Music by Vomit Comet.