Bumfights is a video series produced by Indecline Films. The debut release titled Bumfights Vol. 1: A Cause for Concern features primarily high school fights caught on tape and homeless men (most notably Rufus Hannah and Donnie Brennan) in the San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas metropolitan areas attempting amateur stunts in a style inspired by the popular MTV series Jackass. It was produced by Ryen McPherson, with friends Zachary Bubeck, Daniel J. Tanner, and Michael Slyman, as Indecline Films. Contrary to its title, the video does not depict homeless men actually fighting, but instead a compilation of street fights caught on tape and homeless men performing in skits and stunts.
The video series immediately garnered criticism. The US-based National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH), a homeless advocacy group, has stated that the Bumfights videos foster contempt for the homeless and dehumanize them. 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 shortly before a lawsuit was due to go to trial.
Before the videos were banned, they were readily available for purchase on VHS and DVD through mail order and some retail stores such as skate shops carried them. Some big-name merchants such as Amazon forbid the purchase of any Bumfights films—the series survives today mostly through peer-to-peer torrents.
The videos have been banned in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, and New Zealand. The internet auction site eBay routinely cancels listings which contain copies of the video, citing their policy that prohibits the sale of materials which promote or glorify violence. In the state of California, both felony and misdemeanor charges were filed against the producers, as well as civil lawsuits. They pled guilty to staging an illegal fight but subsequently in 2005 the producers were sentenced to six months in prison for having failed to complete the community service to which they had previously been sentenced. The filmmakers maintain that the production of the video was a mutually beneficial arrangement and that the homeless people depicted freely chose to participate.
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"
Ryen McPherson 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 in November 2008.
- Bumfights Vol. 1: A Cause for Concern (2002)
- Bumfights Vol. 2: Bumlife (2003)
- Bumfights Vol. 3: The Felony Footage (2004)
- Bumfights Vol. 4: Return of Ruckus (2006)
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