Homeless Men Turned into Human Routers

SXSW, the annual vanity carnival of schmoozing, marketing superficiality, and BBQ, has something new to offer Austin's visitors: unalloyed human degradation. A New York ad firm has converted homeless people into 4G hotspots.

While the firm behind the stunt, BBH, was quick to defend the horrendous exploitation, FWD reports:

"The worry is that these people are suddenly just hardware," [BBH] said, "but frankly, I wouldn't have done this if i didn't believe otherwise," [BBH] added, "we're very open to this criticism."


Lucky to be "open to criticism," because that's all the "campaign" has turned up. Although this is ostensibly about giving the homeless money—BBH says they keep all the proceeds from those who pay for 4G access from the hotspots they carry—it's categorically awful, and all for the convenience of SXSW's widely well-off patrons.

But it gives the homeless jobs! Yes, as would using them as human coffee tables, or hunting them as game, or having them dance for nickels in Superman outfits at your next dinner party. Working as hotspot is worse than not working at all. [FWD]

Image via Hardly Normal

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Meh, I don't see the problem here. The homeless earn some cash - I'd prefer seeing this, than watching them at a street corner begging, or trying to wash your car window for a dollar.

If they hired temp workers (like most big companies do for SXSW to do their dirty work), would it be less degrading? Why is is degrading when the people are homeless? Is a booth babe degraded? What about the 100's of folks peddling people around Austin this week?

I think it is actually a good thing that they hired the homeless - it brings attention to their story, and gets them a job (albeit a short term one).