Students Helping German Homeless Man Goes Viral But Draws Criticism

By Stephen Fuchs on Email @StephenWFuchs

be jape e.V. screen

Four students from Offenburg, Germany decided that they wanted to work together to create a charity group that would make the world a little bit better by supporting those in need, which included helping out random homeless people on the streets with a simple yet kind gesture. Their charity, be jape e.V., posted a video on YouTube on July 1 showcasing one of these acts of kindness, and as it began going viral, the group also began facing quite a bit of criticism.

While the video moved many of the viewers, some of the initial criticism was that the publicity was helping the group of students more than the homeless man who only received a few euros. However the larger criticism came when people realized that the homeless man in the video was an actor and the entire video was staged.

The group felt the need to address the situation with some clarification as to why they chose to stage the video instead of just recording the real thing which they have been doing since May.

Once the group decided to start up the charity, they decided to go around surprising homeless people in the towns of Offenburg and Freiburg and were met with very positive feedback. Feeling inspired but what was taking place, the group wanted to reach out and spread the idea to others by producing a video. However, they had to decide between capturing the act as it happened live, which would create various complications, or recreate their actions with a staged video.

“If you shoot the film as a live-action clip, there is the problem that you don’t have permission to shoot him without previous consulting, and that is a matter of respect.” the group explained in a followup video statement. “We opted not to do that so as not to send out the wrong message. That was the reason we decided to work with an actor. We are convinced that the metaphor of this clip is so powerful and touching, and we want to motivate people to do the same or to take a few minutes to talk the next time they pass a homeless guy.”

Whether or not you are agree with their approach, be jape e.V. hopes that their original message will still spark a desire for people to make a difference, and if it does they feel that they have reached their goal.


Sources: be jape e.V.

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Stephen Fuchs
Stephen founded German Pulse and LGBT Germany out of a passion to introduce Americans to a Germany that goes beyond beer and polka (although with enough beer he has been known to polka it up a bit). He's a coffee addict, lover of wine and good times, a hit in the kitchen and editor of TV commercials. You can follow him on Twitter (@StephenWFuchs) to find out a lot more.
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