India's MrBeast 'kindness for clicks' stunt philanthropy videos raise questions

Originally published at: India's MrBeast 'kindness for clicks' stunt philanthropy videos raise questions | Boing Boing

reducing philanthropy to a spectacle with “poor used as props for views.”

These are the social media age’s version of Lady Bountiful.


Hair cut checks out


I find this flavor of youtube personality deeply grating even on contact; but I find the level of vehemence their performative charity attracts morally curious.

I don’t suspect them of being altruists by any means; but in a world where exploiting the poor for your own benefit is anywhere from ‘accepted, though we don’t like to talk about it’ to ‘celebrated as the workings of a divinely ordained hierarchy’; it seems like a strange manifestation of moral sentiments that “you gave stuff to poor people because it served your interest!” can attract more commotion than “you have poor people laboring in your fields, mines, and sweatshops for meagre subsistence because it serves your interests!”.

I’m unclear on why this is: does stunt philanthropy trigger peoples’ aversion to hypocrisy in a way that good, honest, exploitation doesn’t? Is it just because MrBeast is that damn annoying(he is)?

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I’m going to be honest, while I’d rather it not have to exist, I’d take one of those people every day over most influencers. They take money from people who donate it to them and sponsors and give it to people in need. It’s similar to all the charity videos where they show starving children or when they show ‘we built a well’. Yes straight charity is better and regular donations even better but I suspect this hits a different demographic.

In a world where it’s a choice of Mr Beast getting more fame from a video and 100 people regaining sight through a simple operation or Mr Beast not getting fame, it doesn’t feel like much of a question.

If people were being made to perform or degrade themselves to get the help they need that would be a different matter.

For me the ethics is not their videos, it’s the lack of a system that makes these videos exist in the first place.

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