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Saturday, 25 May, 2002, 10:00 GMT 11:00 UK
Reality TV tramps video condemned
Pic courtesy of Bumfights.com
'Drunk bums beating each other silly' say the ads
A video on sale in the United States has been accused of plumbing the depths of bad taste to show homeless people performing dangerous stunts in return for gifts such as food and clothing.

Pic courtesy of Bumfights.com
Some combatants suffer serious injuries
Bum Fights has already sold more than 200,000 copies, netting more than $1m for its California film graduate makers.

Shot with a hand-held camera, the video shows homeless men fighting, sometimes resulting in serious injuries.

In one clip a man is lying on the ground saying his ankle has been broken.

Another man filmed in a dark alley is shown smacking himself in the head after realising his hair is on fire.

Others are filmed pulling their teeth out with pliers.

'True hardships'

One of the "stars" of the video, called Rufus the Stunt Bum, repeatedly rams his head into a wall, rides a shopping trolley down a steep incline and spray-paints the bedding of other homeless men.

The makers claim the violence on screen only depicts the true hardships the homeless face.


People are running head first into buildings. That's not making a person a star

Donald Whitehead, US National Coalition for the Homeless
But Donald Whitehead, from the US National Coalition for the Homeless, said: "It's clearly exploitative. It's clearly cruel.

"People are being forced to do things under various conditions of substance abuse and mental illness.

"They're being coerced into doing this by people that clearly just are absolutely uncaring, unfeeling individuals."


The bums love us, they are glad to see us. They even have our phone numbers

Film-maker Ray Laticia
Bum Fights is the brainchild of Las Vegas-based Ray Laticia and Ty Beeson, both 24, who have marketed the video as a chance to see "drunk bums beating each other silly".

Mr Laticia admitted that participants had broken bones in the fighting.

But he rejected accusations that the filming was exploitative.

He told BBC News Online that the down and outs were actually all "lucid and fully aware" before being filmed.

Pic courtesy of Bumfights.com
"Rufus the Stunt Bum" gets a pasting
He said: "Our opponents say that the people we film are incapable of making an informed decision. But that seems to be more insulting to them than anything we do in our videos.

"It is not done to be shocking. It was done to show an aspect of society that people would otherwise not see.

"The bums love us, they are glad to see us. They even have our phone numbers."

The original aim of the video was to sell a few thousand dollars to raise money for an independent feature film.

"We never expected it to be this big," said Mr Laticia.

"But it just means the budget for the film has been increased."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Peter Bowes
"It's promoted as the most hilariously shocking video you've ever seen"
See also:

27 Aug 01 | Entertainment
08 Aug 01 | Entertainment
23 Jul 01 | Entertainment
24 May 01 | Entertainment
22 May 01 | Entertainment
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