By Cory Doctorow at 12:31 pm Sat, Sep 27, 2008
Update: Here's the a worldwide distributor for the duvet
In the future, camouflage will be garbage print.
In all seriousness, since I like themed rooms and the item in question is for a good cause, I’ll describe the bedroom I would put this in:
The ‘wallpaper’ would be a street scene with chain-link fence and a basketball court (bonus points for real chain-link and a miniature b-ball hoop). One wall would be weathered bricks. The headboard of the bed would be a giant boombox with real speakers.
Presto change-o: An early 80’s breakdancing room.
Now admittedly this might take away from the original context, but I’m just sayin’.
Homeless chic. Why don’t I pretend to barf from drinking Windex, too? Guh.
As someone who has been homeless, both as a teenage girl and as an adult with two children, I accept (but do not like) the fact that many of the people who can be bothered to give to organizations designed to help the homeless are doing so as a fashion statement, or sporadically, or because they feel like they’re superior, or as a way of dealing with consumer guilt. I understand that sometimes they contribute out of fear, as well, and that the times I have needed help, the help has been grudging and come with a heaping helping of judgment and condemnation and occasionally outright mockery.
I care because it hurts my feelings and I care because the process of asking for help is designed to infantilize me. But how I feel does not enter into the process in that if I need the help, I have to do what I must to get it. Moreover, I can never know what is the heart and mind of the people around me, so I tend to try not to quibble at the motive (some days this is easier than others.) At the end of the day, I console myself with the thought that I write about these experiences and try to provide a critical perspective on them which is aimed at the people who have made my life difficult. I am trying to administer an education (which I do for free as well as by teaching freshman comp) and help to people who have not managed to get into school and/or have not gotten the help they need because I know that the system is designed to grind them into powder for being in a bad situation. There’s a whole hell of a lot of Calvinist predestination in the American mindset.
I say this as someone whose friends from high school are mostly dead because of the failures of the system: mainly that profound child abuse was the family’s business before midway through the 1990s, and because people have a tendency to blame the victim. Therefore, in the absence of anyone giving a sh1t, my friends were left to shift for themselves and became hookers and junkies.
However, I think that a critique of the entire mechanism of charity based on the fact that a charitable organization hired designers to screen-print cardboard on a duvet should keep a few things in mind: if it raises funds, those funds can be used mindfully to be helpful. We have no way of knowing if they won’t be used mindfully. To to some degree, the choice of symbols is mindful because it is a choice to remind people that they exist in an utterly different world than the people who will hopefully be the beneficiaries of the funds raised. I can and do think that there’s a real problem in the US with the way help is administered and the assumptions made in that process, but this is not the US. For all I know, things are very different.
I’d be gleeful to discuss how these things are handled in the US.
If someone buys the thing and tells themselves that they’re wonderful people who should get to pat themselves on the back every night and who never try to be helpful again, there’s not a lot that can be done to dissuade them. I can only hope that they get a taste for being charitable and conscientious and keep trying, because in my experience there is not a person on the planet who does not make wrong and sometimes hurtful assumptions. But those assumptions tend to stay in the absence of exposure. If they get a taste for it, they’ll get their exposure and have to decide what to do with their assumptions. Let’s hope they are confronted with the bonds between us and not the dissonances.
I’m a boinger and I’ve been homeless and/or living without water, heat or utilities a few times now, even since I started grad school.
Guess I’m not a legion, but hi.
Tts all good to rail about how evil the designers are, but I suspect some of you people ranting and raving about it haven’t ever lifted a finger to help a single homeless person.
I think they’re clever and different, remarkably realistic, and I think its a most interesting way to raise money for charity.
I have. Now. Tomorrow I may not. I see no difference between those who have so much more than me and those that have so much less.
I don’t know, it just creeps me out to see this.
One can do things that have serious implications without being bad, aka ‘mean spirited’. I’d give some examples but I’d be disemvoweled right away.
For the record extremists who shave their heads for cancer fund raising also creep me out. I bet that they have the same effect on most cancer patients. If I were one I would long for a full head of hair (heck, I already do !) and I would be defiant of someone who voluntarily hurt themselves. OTOH I did have close friends who died from cancer and I remember how much I wanted to do something and how little I was really able to do. So, if shaving their head helps them, I can tolerate it.
dkm, ur doing it wrong.
I have to come down on the side of “I wouldn’t buy this”. I already feel tons of guilt for being better off than oh so many others in the world. (Yes, I do whatever I can, whenever I can. I am sick about the disparity in wealth all over the world).
But – When I crawl in to bed it is to get a rest from the world. I really don’t think it would do my mental health any good to be reminded each night when I go to rest, or each morning when I wake up that many will die because of poverty while I sleep.
Well, let’s have a count, shall we?
Cafeteria volunteer, considered to be the shittiest volunteer job.
Grade school field trip chaperone, including numerous outings with disabled students.
Sunday school teacher.
Education within my field of cartooning.
Hosting grants for women webcartoonists.
Regular donor to charities like animal rescues (not PETA), Modest Needs (modestneeds.org).
Online and phone liason for families separated during Katrina evacuation.
#29: probably not “most” cancer patients. Perhaps some. But the intention behind the act is quite good natured. I think the reaction to it would vary widely, individual to individual, much as anything does.
Why would you say that ?
I’m put to shame by Lea but I do help old people, mostly lonely ones, to keep their home clean, twice a week. I also make their grocery in most cases.
That doesn’t make me a saint, more like a repentant sinner.
Then again, I don’t need to do any that to justify my right to express my feelings toward that most thoughtless of all fund raising idea.
lea, howza bout a big virtual smootch, and a hardy thank u. maybe even a tiny squeeze on your touchas!
I would be interested in a survey of homeless people to find out what they think about it. Their opinion is the only one that matters, really.
@ TENN re: #20 and #22
Thanks for schoolin’ me in BB sociology. You’re right that I had no idea of Antinous’ place here, but comment #13 had an all-too-familiar ring to it. I’m hardly a newb at teh netertoobz, and perhaps, after years of learning to manage bait from concern trolls and similar species, my tactics have grown a bit too reflexive.
Still, the ploy was a classic trap: “NaÃ¯vely trot out your karma-creds to ‘prove’ yourself, or refuse to take the bait — either way YOU LOSE.” For those of us who dare to challenge the glorious cult of pop charity — meaning, those of us who have actually lived the “poor, tragic” life, and dare to hold an opinion about these things — such rhetorical maneuvers by in-group defenders are a constant irritant and hazard.
And, more to the point, Antinous’ comment #18 falls prey to the very same criticisms you reserved for my retort #19. Not quite as overtly, granted, but that’s hardly an exoneration. But enough about that.
Now, from your subsequent comment, I can see that you’re neither bereft of self-awareness, nor are you entirely ignorant of the destructiveness of social neglect and discrimination. Given conventional culture, that’s a pretty high compliment. The question in my mind now is: How open are you to seeing the view from the other side of the tracks — I mean, really seeing it, as opposed to just winning “karma-points” in the eyes of your peers? Please don’t be insulted by that question. After all, if it were not an enormously complex issue, elusive to even the greatest “experts” we can muster, all these problems would have been solved long ago.
Among those who live the Unperson life (and it IS Life, in all it’s glory — it’s only as “empty” and “tragic” as the in-groups succeed in making it), there is an extremely common and unifying perspective, one that can scarcely be made comprehensible to the in-group mind. My capacity for endlessly repainting the Outcasts Mural on a moment’s notice is extremely limited. But if you’re interested, here’s something that might give you at least a little taste of where we’re coming from. Just replace appropriate instances of “black,” “autistic,” “defective,” etc., with terms such as “homeless,” “indigent,” “delinquent,” “irresponsible,” and so on:
Yeah, yeah — plugging one of my own posts. Tasteless, huh? That’s the best I can do at the moment. Oh, well. For those who want more, I’d suggest looking into the social construction of race, disability, poverty, etc., but with one enormous caveat: authors and researchers often fail to give serious weight to the perspectives of the very people they study and discuss, and so failing, they are almost absolutely guaranteed to do more harm than good. And that goes for charities too.
#33: cause in general people like to complain about stuff without having actually done anything themselves. Its just a trend I’ve noticed.
Obviously you two buck it which is great. More power to ya.
@ TALIA #35
Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you…
(From one “ungrateful” defectoid.)
I think this duvet set is brilliant. I read its intention as shaking the viewer out of their comfort zone, in a way that makes us physically relate to the reality of sleeping out in a cardboard box or a newspaper roll. To me it is somewhat Chaplinesque – like when he ate his shoes, rolling up the laces on his fork like pasta. My father, who was an orphan through the Great Depression, told me that the poor people loved what Chaplin did.
I don’t see this duvet set as condescending at all. I would bid for it, if I had any spare cash.
you’re giving me much to ponder.
dkmnow, It’s kinda hard to hear you from that horse you’re up on.
I would prefer it in a newsprint.
Well, very few homeless persons post on BB now, don’t they?
I disagree, again, as much as it pains me because I like reading you. All parties in a charitable act should have a vote and a voice. I have a right to reflect on what charity is and how it is done.
I could make quite a few speculations on what the homeless would have to say based on my experience. I bet they’d like to be invited to the fund raising parties. I bet they’d like for less people to benefit from tax rebates so the social services would have the money to work. I bet that they would like to have *all* the money some spend in charitable luxury items…
How many of these opinions will ever be considered ?
I think it’s ugly.
@animwriter: Your room will look like you collected all the pieces in Animal Crossing’s “Homeless Chic” set! I’m impressed. The chain link wall is easy, it’s hard to get the duvet and matching armoire.
(Animal Crossing Wild World nerd GO!)
To the contrary, some number of regular commenters have, at various times, mentioned that they have been homeless in the past. And, in Japan, internet cafÃ©s are a rather popular place to sleep for the vast army of employed homeless.
I would be interested in a survey of homeless people to find out what they think about it.
I bet they’d want one. It’s safe to say they’d think more practically than those fortunate enough not to be in their situations.
Who cares what the motivation is if it gets money into a homeless program?
At least it’s a reminder each morning that many folks did not spend the night as comfortably as you.
Buy it and send it to your rich, insensitive friends.
It just might save them a trip to the re-education camp.
#7 said it best.
As my wife just said: “This is definitely not for people who want to think outside of the box.”
(Ducks and runs away)
mdh: “dkmnow, It’s kinda hard to hear you from that horse you’re up on.”
You mean the deep, dark hole I’m down in, don’t you? Well, whichever. In my world, you’re perfectly free to evade the point until Hell freezes over. But if you ever wake to find yourself staring down the barrel of a socio-economic shotgun (whereby, others presume to dictate what’s “for your own good” without your input or consent), do take a moment to notice that I’m not the one holding the gun.
what is wrong with sleeping under covers that make you appreciate having them? Memento mori.
Sin would be paying a homeless person a miserable pittance to sleep in the street outside your window where you could watch them from comfort. Sin would be taking them into your home and showing your silk-screened cardboard to them and then doing nothing to help them.
How open are you to seeing the view from the other side of the tracks — I mean, really seeing it, as opposed to just winning “karma-points” in the eyes of your peers?
I’ve never really wanted for anything in my life except for love, safety, or even so much as acceptance in my home.
I don’t know the other view personally, from experience. I don’t plan to go about seeking it, either. To me, living life as an Unperson and experiencing it from their side seems like this:
Good Samaritan: “Oh, dear, my brother! I see you have fallen and broken your leg.”
Broken Legged Man: “Ahhh! It hurts terribly.”
Good Samaritan: “Here. Let me help.”
The benefactor takes a hammer to his kneecap, shattering the joint and falling to the ground next to the man with the broken leg.
BLM: “WHAT THE FARK DID YOU DO THAT FOR?”
GS: “To understand your plight.”
BLM: “Well got-damn, I’d have been happy with a call to 911!”
I can do much more help by being relatively ‘affluent’- especially by such standards- and providing help, than by looking out their eyes. I know the situations well. Not as well as my best friend, who can recite at will pretty much every endangered animal, rioting area, oppressed group, or human rights issue humanly possible to know, but well. I know what misery is.
I donate to alleviate that misery, not to increase my social status. There is always the occasion where a group of friends and I are accosted to donate for some cause; I will admit to being marginally more likely to donate in such situations, especially when I’m not feeling particularly sympathetic. But just as often, I donate in order to shame others into doing so. I’d say my ‘shamed into’ donation and ‘shaming others into’ donations are roughly equal.
I’m a Buddhist. So I don’t deal in karma points. I deal in the spiritual and physical ramifications of action- real karma. An action may be good even if it isn’t totally for good intent; if the effect it has is good, then so good it is. It would be better were it put forth with good intent, but to me, intent is very little of the equation.
And yes, Antinous’ comment was rather acidic. But honestly? He attacked what you were doing; screaming like a howler monkey. You called him a troll. You -are- screaming like a howler monkey. He -is- snapping at you like an aggrieved panther. You -aren’t- a troll. He -isn’t- a troll.
See the difference in the methods?
And- to be perfectly honest- he’s my friend. Which means I’m biased. Win some, lose some.
Speaking of which; ANTINOUS, YOUR FAILURE TO SAY HI TO ME DEPRESSES ME. HIIIIIIIIIIIIIII.
&& HIIIIIIII TAK-SAN. I’VE MISSED YOU!
Howdy. How’s the hostessing going?
I tend to think of it this way: those who will give, give. There are charitable people out there who will offer money with no motivation other than because it is ‘right. There are also those who give only with a little motivation and naturally there are those who are a little bit of the two. It is the nature of the beast.
Something in return is a motivator: yes, giving outright is always going to be a nicer option, but if it takes a bit for people to get out their wallets, gives the plight of the homeless or whatever other charity group some media attention and actually gets people to get out their wallets when they would not have otherwise then I prefer that it was done that way and it -got- the extra attention it needs, the extra funds aimed that way and so on over nothing being done.
Things such as these though, to me, aren’t -just- a novel way of getting money from people who are only willing to spend on the item itself. Its also a reminder to any of us out there who weren’t aware of the problem, or the extent of it. The more attention a problem gets, the more likely, I think, that someone is going to actually get around to doing something about it. As to the tastefulness of the offering for this one, that is up to the individual. Actual taste arguments aside…
If I am shopping for regular goods and have a choice between a regular item and one that donates a certain amount of the purchase price to breast cancer awareness (happens with a few brands over here), I’ll let you guess which one I reach for. That isn’t to say that I wouldn’t give without the motivator, but if I am going to be buying a product very similar anyway, I might as well reach for the one that will do a little good. No, its not a lot, but every little bit helps, I guess (and I am sure that the marketing department leveraging on everyone’s guilt to buy their stuff is laughing quite merrily too).
We live in an odd world… we really do. But as stupid and righteous as this may sound, I know that there may well be a point in my life where I will opt for taking a hand-out and swallowing my pride over standing on my soapbox with regards to where the money came from. Now I might have different limits depending on the origins of that money (a friend who gives a damn vs corporation that kills babies for cash then gives the money to the needy, for example)… but if I was desperate enough, I would want someone doing something about it over waiting for everyone to wake up and realize that there is a problem on their own.
Ok, I should really go through and edit that to make it actually coherent… but too tired to care. *clicks post*
Hey Tenn, I am saying HI to you. I miss you. :)
Jake! I was leaping off to spy your history and tackle you. There is something eminently tacklable about an internet person named Jake.
How are you doing? I miss you folk. Now that the beginning of year paperwork for my Corps is done (and I’m almost done with a SPIFFY new database), and my job has somewhat slowed in hours- I hope to return. My life isn’t complete without a dose of cephalopod and Boingers.
The commenting base has expanded and changed some, though- extremely! Kind of scares a small-town girl like me.
(-Snickers and shoves her proximity to Dallas, Texas under the rug-) Really. I’m a small-town girl. Honest.
Tenn-chan; sashiburi! And why would Antinous need to greet you? Do you imagine his consciousness ever leaves you? Or mine?
Tenn – consider me tackled. I’m not here every day, but I try to poke my nose in under the tent at least a couple times a week. Don’t be such a stranger.
wow dmknow, my point was that it would be nice if you took your pedantic asshat off, not screw it on tighter. You’re not communicating.
OK then, let’s hear from those masses of homeless BoingBoingists .
Tenn-chan; sashiburi! And why would Antinous need to greet you? Do you imagine his consciousness ever leaves you? Or mine?
Takuan. I am not sure whether to close my blinds, or feel fluffy and flattered. I might go with both, though. :D I think of Boingers far too much for health’s sake.
Hostessing is a PAIN IN THE BUM. The only thing I like about working in a restaurant is my coworkers and the blasted money. How’s the swami-ing going? That word doesn’t lend itself to gerunding well.
Jake; I’ll try. I’m on the internet enough on messengers; BoingBoing just requires more of my attention than blibbering on IM. I think now that I’ve broken the hump I can DO IT.
God, we’re terribly off topic.
It’s swamification. Or maybe swamiferation. Why is the word swami so funny? There are really people who call themselves swamees, and it always induces giggling.
“OK then, let’s hear from those masses of homeless BoingBoingists .”
IAMINNOCENT – IMHO this was kind-of a dickish thing to say. NOBODY said there were “masses” of homeless “boingboingists”. If you have something to say, or some argument to make, do so.
You want it served up as a pre-digested sound-byte on a silver platter. As I’ve already indicated, that’s simply not possible with such enormously complex social problems.
You can pay others all day to do your homework for you, but that still won’t get you through the final exam.
This looks digitally printed, not silkscreened. FYI
dkmnow, that’s a nice straw man you put up in front of me. Your invective will win you few allies, and your high horse is shitting all over the place.
Are there swarms of them?
Wow. You’ve really triggered the temporal anomaly today.
I place my comments in the future, but they can be viewed from the present.
Antinous; I am confused. My comment came after yours; swarms of swamis. Now, it appears before. Befuddled.
perspective chaser thank you Patrick)
Is that what it is? Gah, the last time this started happening I ended up without pants…
Likewise, I lurk in the past.
Wow, Takuan, I wasn’t paying attention to the video, just listening to the music and then- BAM. I’d never actually -seen- blackface, just references to the practice.
Bias is the fundamental building-block of all cognition. Similarly, mind-objects are an integral part of any investigation of phenomena. Both are inescapable necessities, but neither is to be confused with reality itself. Bias, however, is far more fundamental. Atoms in the matter of human consciousness.
BTW, I didn’t know you could buy your way out of Samsara. How much does that cost?
Seriously, my opening quips were just satire. The drawback with satire is that, among those who don’t get the joke, some will take personal offense — their self-constructs (a form of bias-complex) are threatened, their ego-defenses are activated, and they react unmindfully. That’s why satire almost never qualifies as “right speech.” I took my chances, and you called me on it … sort of.
But my point remains, right there at the heart of the perceptual divide. You don’t want to cross that divide. That’s your choice to make. But the reasons you gave both mischaracterize and trivialize that divide. And thus, for your own part at least, you leave it free to do its worst. Or so it seems from where I stand.
Bias will always be a fundamental part of what we are as human animals. And critically examining and addressing our own bias-complexes (or khandhas, if you will) is the hardest job we will ever have. But without it, there can be no right speech, right action, right livelihood, etc. Short of extinguishing the flame, nothing can change that. So, if you’ll excuse me …
*gets back to work*
Having spent a while doing work for volunteer organizations myself, I would like to add this thought to the conversation:
We live in an era where image is very important, whether we’re talking about designer suits or underground cred.
Why is it so shocking and disgusting that a charitable organization would play the same game to help itself and by extension, the people helped by its work?
Also, if you were a designer who normally works in textiles, what would you do to help a charitable organization earn money?
That’s nice, dear.
clear your nostrils.
Want! Want, want, want!
And the price isn’t too bad.
You should be glad, dear. I am certainly relieved!
And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. – Mark 5:9
And also, hello! Glad to see you here.
I covet this coverlet.
I too have been homeless on occasion. I think that, as a squatter, I still technically count as homeless in the eyes of the state – but I certainly don’t consider myself as such.
It’s no fun being without a home. Without a space to call your own. No key to the door. No security. Nothing. No matter how many charitable friends you have with sofas and floors…it is terminally depressing. Especially if you already suffer from mental health problems.
I really have to say that I find it difficult to get upset about a duvet cover. Who cares? They sell them, they raise funds. End of.
If you’d shown this to me when I was homeless I wouldn’t have blinked either way. I had much more serious things on my mind. Like finding a place to live.
Why do guys like you and I know what a duvet is?
Is this essential to our survival
in the hunter-gatherer sense?
More comfortable than it looks, I hope!
Doesn’t it strike anyone as a mockery of the homeless misery ?
I mean, really, how comfortable would you be to sleep in “duvetted” cardboard while real people sleep under real cardboard ? Isn’t it the epitome for hypocritical charity : “I’ll give if it makes me look cool”? Quite typical of the out of touch limousine liberalism.
Shames me to be on their side.
It’s as much a mockery as people who shave their heads for cancer fundraisers.
So suave. So sexy. So…
Whatever some may say about the homeless, they sure got class.
“Kill the Malaysian Prime Minister!”
(Why didn’t I think of the Zoolander vibe?)
Freud would have a field day with this
How can you compare a gesture that express deeply felt compassion and accepted discomfort to sleeping under fashionable duvet…
It’s edgy, but whether or not you are a BAD PERSON for buying one of these and sleeping under it must depend entirely on what’s going on in your head.
If you snuggle down every night and think “Ha – homeless suckers! I’m nice and toasty, so fuck you!” then you are probably a BAD PERSON.
If, on the other hand, you bought one because it’s a neat design joke, a bit edgy – a fact that is offset with the charitable donation – then you probably aren’t a BAD PERSON.
Great. Now let’s all wear dead fetuses on our heads to demonstrate our “sympathy and compassion” for Nurse Gollum.
And then let’s all chant in unison: “Hey, some of my best friends are [homeless, black, gay, autistic, female, etc.]!”
In-group “charitability” is about as benevolent as cholera. No, wait, that’s not fair. Cholera is more honest.
And you have contributed by…?
* As my wife just said: “This is definitely not for people who want to think outside of the box.” *
Good one, my wife!
And so, I just HAVE to build on to the Zoolander allusions…
“As a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, so must you become Derelicte!”
Wow… I really thought I was just looking at cardboard packaging until following the link. Exceptionally well made!
#8 & #9
I just watched that yesterday for the first time in years. Creepy.
Very clever, Antinous. Try that line on the next homeless person you meet. That’ll prove your superiority for all to see.
And shrieking like a howler monkey is solving which problem? Them: donating money. You: ranting.
#3 posted by codereduk: Why…?
So it can match my ‘cardboard’ box:
I have a box from one of Michel’s first production runs that is about thirty years old. Very nifty.
M: n ncm; fll-tm vlntr nd ctvst
Me: no income; full-time volunteer and activist
You: Should be lauded appropriately and then informed that anything which results in money donated for people who need it is a karmically positive event.
Antinous: Long time respected moderator of this site, former hospital worker, helps old people get their yoga on at the community center.
Come on, man. It’s just the internet. Take a breath, check out who you’re replying to, get the level of BB before you start calling people trolls. Thanks.
Am I alone in worrying about paper cuts?
And in other news, Tenn would probably buy this, because it would remind her every time she settled down to meditate to drop a dollar in the charity jar. Visible reminders of poverty- and what you should do to help those in need- help those of us who are just not very fantastic people.
I tend to keep pictures of orphans or other suitable images in my wallet, so every time I open up to spend five bucks on coffee, I remind myself of the value of saving the money and putting it toward a better cause.
Would I need this self guilt method if I were a very noble, generous person? No, but I imagine that my money still spends the same.
Hey, maybe they should sell guilt-ready wallet then, with miserable photos in them… They be in crocodile skin I presume.
Just kidding. And by the way this is pretty exceptional behavior, one strategy I never heard of, bordering on… fantastic! ;)
You also remind me that one of the functions of charity, in most religions, is to be a reminder of our true condition and nature.
How can you be sure that everyone who buys this does so mean-spiritedly? As for discomfort, a shaved head is actually quite comfortable.
And no, I’m not mocking cancer patients who have little choice in the matter, in case it needs to be said.
#6 and #7, U R DOING IT WRONG. DKMNOW, u sound a bit on the angry side. need a hug? there, i sent ya a lil virtual squeeze. hope ya feels betta. as far as those sheets go…get used to the pattern, kids. cuz the way stuff is goin we will all be sleepin on the real deal soon enough! now back to sleep my precious…
Mail (will not be published) (required)
Submit a tip
The rules you agree to by using this website.
Who will be eaten first?
Jason Weisberger, Publisher
Ken Snider, Sysadmin