The Sad Evolution of the Ice Bucket Challenge

barry currin, beaverdamusa.comThe old expression goes like this: “Earl couldn’t pour water out of a boot if the directions were written on the heel.”

I first heard it when I was probably 6 years old, and I still remember it. Of course, back then, Earl’s hypothetical boot was full of urine, not water; and it was referred to by a slang term which I won’t name in the second paragraph.

Regardless of what was in Earl’s boot or how it got there, even as a first grader I knew the expression meant Earl was pretty dumb.

Fast forward to 2014, and the ice bucket challenge.

What started as a charity fundraiser stunt quickly turned into the viral online flavor of the month. Then – right on cue – it became controversial. And now — right on cue again — it changed to become a way for us to laugh at the Earls of the world.

Let’s examine the evolution of the ice bucket challenge, which happened in about a week.

The controversy started when people accused others of dumping water on their head just to make a cute video without ever intending to send any money to any charity. I don’t doubt that happened once or twice.

The controversy continued when people started complaining the ice dumpers were wasting water. I’ve hugged a tree or two in my day, but even I don’t really buy in to that one. I don’t think any droughts were made worse by the ice bucket challenge. Hopefully our eco-system is not as fragile as our feelings are.

But now, our society in its never-ending quest for “what’s next” has inexplicably popularized “ice bucket challenge fails,” A “fail” in the language of Facebook means we get to laugh at someone who does something stupid. And this is where Earl’s ineptitude with his boot full of pee comes in.

Have you seen the videos of these people who cannot even successfully dump a bucket full of ice on their own head? Or even worse, their friends cannot complete this seemingly simple task without dropping the dang thing on top of the challenger?

The videos of people doing the ice bucket challenge wrong are becoming more popular than the videos of people doing the ice bucket challenge right.

Why would someone post a video like this about themselves in the first place?

I think I know.

I think it’s because in the rush to say “look at me” they don’t even care that they look like a complete fool by being unable to dump water out of a bucket. People will do anything to get on television, Facebook, or whatever — even if it’s having their friends dump a 200-gallon cooler on their head, cooler and all.

We fan the flames, though. We love to see people get humiliated, don’t we. I guess it started with the cavemen when Thor would hide in the bushes then whack Conan in the head with a club to the delight of the other Neanderthals. From there, it evolved into watching people getting thrown to the lions, then bullfighting, the Salem Witch Trials, Candid Camera and finally to American Idol.

We delighted in hearing Simon tell someone they couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. And now, we delight in hearing Howard Stern embarrass the world’s worst sword swallower.

Who won?

Who cares, did you see what Howard said to that 3-year-old sword swallower? It was amazing! 

I am not being critical of the ice bucket challenge. I am tired of it, but that’s just me. I guess I’m ready for “what’s next,” too.

Maybe we could bring back that catching-yourself-on-fire craze to benefit people who have Earl’s Disease and help find a cure for those cannot pour ice water out of a boot with directions on the heel.

About Barry Currin

Barry tries to be funny and poignant, and he's usually satisfied when he succeeds with one or the other. (Being both is awesome. And sometimes that happens.) Email him:

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