I wish I could have been in the room when someone came up with the utterly stupid idea for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, wherein you dump a bucket of ice water on yourself (recording it for YouTube, of course) and challenge six others to do the same, or you donate $100 to the ALS Association, which combats Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
I imagine it went down something like this:
Step One: The person who came up with the utterly stupid idea for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge makes their pitch, as the rest of the conference room noshes on cheese danishes and drinks coffee.
Step Two: There’s a very brief period of silence where people are looking around at each other to see who is going to call it the stupidest idea ever first.
Step Three: The resident jerk-guy is about to speak up, but then the head honcho starts clapping, calling it “utterly brilliant.” Sort of like in Big when Robert Loggia deems Tom Hanks an absolute genius. Of course, the analogy isn’t precise, since Hanks’ idea was actually good, whereas the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is utterly stupid. But you get my point.
Of course, like many utterly stupid ideas, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has taken off online in what is perhaps the biggest way possible. It has gone absolutely viral. Actually, it is beyond viral. It has gone, as some press outlets have called it, “mega viral.”
Here’s a partial list of famous people who have taken the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge:
Jimmy Fallon and the Roots
Ethel Kennedy (Yes, of those Kennedys)
Kathy Lee Gifford
I could go on and on. Just check the Twitter.
Since the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge debuted just over a week ago, the ALS Association has raised over $5 million. In the same period last year, the organization saw just over $30,000 in contributions. No matter how stupid an idea the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is, it’s pretty hard to argue with those numbers, right?
Well, not exactly.
In the past couple of days, there has been quite a bit of backlash against the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, because, you know, we don’t have enough to worry about in Ferguson, Israel and Iraq, among the many other places causing enough collective conflict to fill the opening scenes of an Armageddon movie.
Money magazine reporter Jacob Davidson, whose father died from the disease, wrote an essay in TIME titled, “We Need to Do Better Than the Ice Bucket Challenge.” He calls the initiative “problematic in almost every way.”
Slate’s senior technology writer is telling folks to “Take the ‘No Ice Bucket’ Challenge.”
The steps are as follows:
1) Do not fetch a bucket, fill it with ice, or dump it on your head.
2) Do not film yourself or post anything on social media.
3) Just donate the damn money, whether to the ALS Association or to some other charity of your choice. And if it’s an organization you really believe in, feel free to politely encourage your friends and family to do the same.
President Obama decided to go that route.
And the criticism and backlash have now trickled down to the masses.
Yesterday, I noticed several Facebook friends posting critiques of the challenge, raising points also raised in some of those articles and then also asking questions like, “What about breast cancer?”
And then this morning, another friend brought up the inevitable environmental argument against the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
“I just couldn’t stop thinking about how it takes energy to make ice,” he pointed out. “It’s not quite the same as Americans wasting food on competitive eating types of things, but how much actual energy is being expended to make all this ice that people are just dumping on their heads? I wonder how people in poor desert countries feel about this. Ice Bucket Challenge: Somalia!”
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