Daily Archives: March 28, 2009

Pimping in a positive light

Standard

We have all heard the shows “Pimp my ride” or “Pimp my house”.  When I hear about them, I can’t help but think how such a negative and degrading process (pimping something/someone) is being presented as a positive.  Can pimping be a positive thing?

The other day I heard about a website that is trying to use the concept of “pimping” to promote a social cause.  I am talking about the website Pimp This Bum.

I heard about this project on my local radio– and the truth is, I am not sure what to think. According to the about page,

The homeless are invisible people. I am not a psychology expert so I won’t guess why, but people don’t like to discuss, or even recognize the homeless. People can remember the funny sign that one used to panhandle, but they never remember the face. We make a million assumptions about them as though they came off an assembly line, but they each have a different story. Some are lazy. Most are alcoholics. A lot of them will die on the streets, but there are those that can be reached and redeemed to be functioning members of society again.

The website follows one homeless man, Tim, and gives followers insight into his life through pictures and short videos.  These include interviews about his life, introductions to his friends, stories, and jokes.  I gives a face to homelessness in America, and, since it is a business (NGO maybe) there is even a place online to donate.

Here is what they said about finding their spokesperson/bum:

We first approached a group of homeless on February 1st underneath the Highway 6 overpass. Four men sitting against the wall, one holding the leash of a rottweiler. The fact that the man looked 80 and appeared to lack a good grip, didn’t bring us much comfort. My father and I had no idea what to expect, this being the first group we approached. We began to explain the details of our concept, when the tallest one, Tim stopped us and said ‘what are you going to call it, you know, the website?” I paused, and shot a look at my Father, unsure of how they would react. I said: “Pimp this bum dot com.” The four guys looked at each other for a moment, then erupted in laughter. Tim paused, smiled again, looked up at us and said: “I think I can do this.” We set up a meeting time for the following week, and headed home.

Of course I couldn’t not show an expert:

Anyways, I am posting this because I am not quite sure what to think.  On one hand, it seems that the project is improving this individuals life.  On the other hand, it seems very exploitative.  On a third hand, it is increasing awareness of homelessness in America. On the fourth hand, how does helping one solve a more systemic problem.  On a fifth hand, the idea of pimping anything to me just seems to degrading and I can’t really separate it from how victimizing prostitution is?.  I could keep going… but I won’t.  What do you think?