The Ice Bucket Challenge: A Spectacle By Any Other Name…



Much ado has been made about the ongoing Ice Bucket challenge (IBC): an event in which a person voluntarily dunks a bucket of ice cold water on him/herself, tapes it, uploads it to the internet, dares 2-3 others to take the challenge, each of whom either take the challenge and/or donate $100 to the cause. The event has gone viral – which is to say tens of thousands have reportedly risen to the occasion, bombarded the internet with their videos that are being watched by scores of others. (I’m sure that even as I type this, someone, mostly likely a celebrity of some kind, somewhere is drenching him/herself in ice cold water.) The whole feat is apparently meant to spread awareness about a degenerative neurological disease that affects the brain and spinal cord and often results in death (It’s known in medical terminology as ALS – – read more about it here – and by lay people as Lou Gehrig’s disease after it affected a popular baseballer in 1939) but I doubt any of that is really happening.

Yes, I’m not a fan of the IBC at all  you guessed correctly. I feel that somewhere in this project, thought up by some clever folks and swallowed up by the herd, the medium is making a louder splash than the message.

Experience – empathise – act?

I’m not sure what the “founders” of the IBC were thinking, if at all they were thinking in the first place. Is the momentary hypothermia that sets in – that sharp drawing in of a short breath when icy water hits your body, which is at a warmer temperature – when you dump an icy bucket on yourself one of the many symptoms or effects of ALS? Is that why the founders wanted the challenge accepters to briefly experience what ALS feels like, feel empathy and take action? If that were the case, I would gladly bow in submission. But sadly there is no scientific link between the two. Coincidentally one of the founders died a week ago. Ironically, he drowned to death. Not in a bucket, but a harbour.

Bucket Half Empty or Half Full?

According to an organisation called the ALS Association 7 lakh new donors have been born out of this craze, some of whom have taken the challenge and donated money too. Over 40 million dollars at last count. Some would argue that means don’t matter if the ends are noble. But surely there are better ways to raise such money, ways that don’t indulge wastage of precious resources.

Food..rather..Iced Water for Thought

Source: WorldTruth.TV

Source: WorldTruth.TV

An new image just popped up on my news feed on Facebook. It juxtaposes a montage of Americans in the process of upturning an bucket of water on themselves, with one of an emaciated, parched African child slowly sipping a capful of water. If that doesn’t put things in perspective, what will!

Herd Mentality

Many celebrities have joined the bandwagon. The list is so long…it would be easier to just say who refused the challenge. US President Barack Obama for starters. He was dared by many, including teen pop star Justin Bieber, but politely refused to go through with the icy baptism. He instead chose to contribute monetarily. Baywatch star and animal rights activist Pamela Anderson also said no. But her refusal was more a mark of protest as ALS Association supports animal testing. I’m sure there are many more who probably refused but mainstream/corporate media coverage being what it is, I guess we’ll never know. Here’s a toast to those wise souls whoever they are.

Spoofing the Ice Bucket with the Ash Bucket

While the herd races to fill a bucket full of icy water, the spoofs can’t be far behind. Another image doing the rounds, although not so much, talks about something called the Ash bucket – deploying the same strategy but for a different cause. Politicians, bureaucrats, parliamentarians, business bigwigs dunking ash buckets on themselves and returning every cent of public money that they siphoned off to the state exchequer and daring 2 others to do the same. This the spoofers say will take care of all problems, including funding research to finding cures to terrible illnesses, like ALS! 

(Source unknown)

(Source unknown)

Now that’s a worthy cause, no?!