Bumfights

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Bumfights is a film series produced by Indecline Films. The videos feature teenagers, homeless men (most notably Rufus Hannah and Donnie Brennan) in the San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas metropolitan areas fighting and attempting amateur stunts in exchange for money, alcohol, and other incentives. The first video, Bumfights: A Cause for Concern (2002), was produced by Ryan McPherson, with friends Zachary Bubeck, Daniel J. Tanner, and Michael Slyman, as Indecline Films. Shortly after sales began to escalate, Indecline Films allegedly sold the rights to two investors,[1] who went on to produce three sequels.

The videos immediately gained criticism from mainstream organizations. The US-based National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) has stated that the Bumfights videos disseminate hate against the homeless and dehumanize them.[2] In April 2006, the four original filmmakers agreed not to produce any more "Bumfights" videos or distribute videos already made, and to pay three homeless men depicted in the videos, under a settlement announced as a lawsuit was to go to trial.[3]

Controversies[edit]

The videos have been banned in a number of countries including the United Kingdom, Canada,[4] and New Zealand. The internet auction site eBay routinely cancels listings which contain copies of the video, citing their policy which prohibits the sale of materials which promote or glorify violence.[5] In the state of California, both felony and misdemeanor charges were filed against the producers, as well as civil lawsuits; in 2005,[6] the producers were sentenced to six months in prison for having failed to complete the community service to which they had previously been sentenced.[7] The filmmakers maintain that the production of the video was a mutually beneficial arrangement and that the homeless people depicted freely chose to participate.[8]

The Bumfights films have likewise been blamed for inspiring a number of violent teenage attacks on the homeless, in the United States.[9] A group of suburban Nevada teenagers, who called themselves "311 Boyz", also faced criminal charges, including attempted murder, after filming several violent exploits inspired by Bumfights. The suspects attempted to make a profitable video by instigating fights around their neighborhoods, in some instances imposing on unwilling participants.

Indecline: Vol. 1 - "It's Worse Than You Think"[edit]

Ryan McPherson, who sold the rights to Bumfights after the first installment, moved on to produce a similar reality video called Indecline: Vol. 1 - It's Worse Than You Think. Though controversial for its fight footage and acts of elaborate graffiti art, legal troubles did not hinder the sales of this video, although the website went offline in June 2008. The Indecline web site went back online on November 2008.[1] As of April 2012, the Indecline Films website is still down and has been down for over a year. Ryan has since moved on to his solo project, Stab The Princess.

Indecline also acted as a record label for a few underground acts, most notably the abstract hip-hop duo Ninth Cloud.[10]

Popular culture[edit]

  • In 2005, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, had a segment featuring Bumvertising, in which they made a comparison to Bumfights, showing a video clip of two bums fighting. The episode of The Daily Show was titled 'Face For Rent'.
  • In one episode of the 2003 remake of Dragnet, the case investigated is strongly based on the Bumfights videos (called "Bum Wars" in the episode).
  • In the episode of American Dad, Threat Levels, Stan begins a Bumfights Federation for himself, staging Bumfights on his own street, in a wrestling ring and giving the competitors professional wrestling-style personas and nicknames.
  • In the episode of Arrested Development, Making a Stand, George Sr.'s Boyfights series of videos bears resemblances to the documentary series, both in the name and in the nature of capturing footage of unwilling subjects.
  • The December 12, 2006 episode of Dr. Phil featured Bumfights producer Ty Beeson. Dr. Phil McGraw, the show's host, had stopped the tape and demanded that the producer leave the set (though he was taken off the set by uniformed Paramount Studios security guards), stating he refused to "publicize" the subject because he claimed the short video was despicable.[11]
  • The episode "Return of the Kane" of Veronica Mars features the character Logan Echolls staging Bumfights.
  • In episode 2 of the TV series Nathan Barley, Nathan finds a web site parody of Bumfights called Tramp Racing.
  • In the mockumentary LolliLove, about giving lollipops to the homeless, James Gunn writes in his diary about wanting to see Bumfights.
  • In the film Hobo with a Shotgun, a minor character is a young man filming homeless persons hurting each other in return for money, a reference to Bumfights.
  • In episode 17 of Workaholics, Adam says "I've been watching a lot of Bumfights lately..."

Bumfights videos[edit]

  • Bumfights: A Cause for Concern (2002)
  • Bumfights 2: Bumlife (2003)
  • Bumfights 3: The Felony Footage (2004)
  • Bumfights 4: Return Of The Rufus (2006)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Ryen McPherson Q&A Part 2 [Bumfights / Indecline / King of the Jews ] - Polly Staffle - Movie & DVD Reviews". Polly Staffle. Retrieved 2014-03-06. 
  2. ^ "National Coalition for the Homeless The National Coalition for the Homeless » National Coalition for the Homeless". Nationalhomeless.org. Retrieved 2014-03-06. 
  3. ^ "> News > Metro - Homeless men in 'Bumfights' get settlements over video". SignOnSanDiego.com. 2006-04-06. Retrieved 2014-03-06. 
  4. ^ "Décisions - Régie du cinéma". Rcq.gouv.qc.ca. Retrieved 2014-03-06. 
  5. ^ "Offensive material policy". Pages.ebay.com. Retrieved 2014-03-06. 
  6. ^ "The Business Ethics Blog has moved!". Businessethics.ca. Retrieved 2014-03-06. 
  7. ^ "Ryen McPherson Q&A Part 2 [Bumfights / Indecline / King of the Jews ] - Polly Staffle - Movie & DVD Reviews". Polly Staffle. Retrieved 2014-03-06. 
  8. ^ "Las Vegas Review-Journal". Reviewjournal.com. Retrieved 2014-03-06. 
  9. ^ "Killer cites 'Bumfights' as influence". Sptimes.com. Retrieved 2008-08-21. 
  10. ^ "(n1nth)cloud | Listen and Stream Free Music, Albums, New Releases, Photos, Videos". Myspace.com. Retrieved 2014-03-06. 
  11. ^ "'Bumfights' creator no match for Dr. Phil". Upi.com. Retrieved 2007-11-12. 

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