Next week, after the run of our show has come to an end, I plan to upload my short film onto something like YouTube, Vimeo, or Funny or Die. I haven’t decided which, but people with bigger thoughts than mine are being asked for their opinions and suggestions. All those sites play videos, right? BUT before that even happens, I thought I’d give you some background on the short I created since it’s a little Austin inside-jokey. You see, there’s a rumor going around that some of you may not be from Austin. It’s ok, your cities are good, too. I bet they even have their own inside jokes. They’re probably even funny, too.
Every year around March Austin hosts a film, music and media festival called South by Southwest (or SXSW) It’s a festival that draws people from all over the world and showcases great talent. Movies are premiered. Favorite bands perform. Panels on a variety of topics are held. From the mainstream to the off-beat, you can see it all (with a wristband and a great deal of luck).
This past year a clever ad agency had an idea to employ some of Austin’s homeless and turn them into Wi-Fi hotspots. How it worked: Let’s say you were a hipster in need of internet access and Starbucks was packed, all you had to do was consult your trusty hotspot map, locate a homeless guy, pay them a recommended $2/15 minutes and log in. It was a way to create needed hotspots during the festival, directly benefit the homeless involved and, as the ad agency argued, help make those individuals visible.
Needless to say, Austin earned a certain amount of attention over this creative use of the homeless. We were even mentioned in The Daily Show. (I don’t know about you, but whenever I hear Texas is getting any kind of national, or even worse, international (or Daily Show) attention I tend to cringe. It’s usually for a good reason. One that makes me want to point east and say, “Hey guys, look over there. I think Alabama is doing something crazy! Did you hear that guy in Missouri? Insane, right? RIGHT?”)
When all of this was happening, I was starting one of my sketch classes and in need of material. This topic looked perfect. Plus, I reckoned everyone else had taken their shot at it. It was only fair that I got my turn.
That’s how Hot Spots came to be.
If you’re new to this controversy, I encourage you to read a bit more about it and watch the testimonials from the homeless involved. You’ll then be armed and ready for my short. You see, I don’t want you blinking confusedly at your monitor and wandering aimlessly throughout your house. That would make me sad… especially if you bumped into things.
The New York Times
Use of Homeless as Internet Hot Spots Backfires on Marketer