I love any attempt to shame prejudiced idiots as much as the next person, but let me be frank: in Greg Karber’s viral YouTube video “Abercrombie & Fitch Gets a Brand Readjustment #FitchTheHomeless,” the only people who are truly shamed are the homeless.

Let’s dissect for a moment. The goal of Karber’s video is to make a point that A&F’s CEO Mike Jeffries is a scumbag because he won’t make or sell to anyone he deems “fat.” Noble enough to call Jeffries out on being an asshole. A little hypocritical to then turn around and talk about how ugly he is, though. It’s not okay for Jeffries to decide who is attractive and who isn’t, but it’s okay for Karber to decide that Jeffires is unattractive? That’s like when I was a candidate in the seventh grade presidential race, and my opponent was winning because he was promising that if he won, he’d cut off his rattail, so I tried to point out his idiocy by idiotically saying that if I won, I’d dye my hair pink. See, it’s not really fighting the problem when you join in on the problem, too.

But that’s small fries. Moving on, Karber continues that A&F is also evil because they destroy already-damaged products instead of giving them to homeless people to insure that only attractive and skinny people are wearing the brand. Okay, I don’t know much about what other stores’ policies are for damaged goods, but I know that A&F isn’t the only brand that does this. Of course we all like the idea of giving things to people who may be in need. But I don’t understand how giving damaged goods to others, regardless of someone’s financial situation, can be considered virtuous. But alright, we may agree that burning something when the reason is specifically to keep it out of the hands of people deemed “less-deserving” is disgusting. However, considering Karber goes to a Goodwill and finds lots of A&F garments, it doesn’t really seem like A&F can or is doing anything to truly keep their brand out of the hands of anyone who has a spare dollar.

But let’s get to the heart of the matter. Karber and his cameraman buddies decide that Mike Jeffries needs to be shamed for the comments he made about fat/ugly people. (By the way, a claim that, while toxic and prejudiced, he has every right to make in our country – both because of our First Amendment rights AND because he is a wealthy businessman who understands Capitalism and knows how to make more money because there will also always be jerky people who want to buy something that other people can’t afford – or fit into.) So how does Karber decide to shame Mike Jeffries and A&F? By finding a group of people EVEN MORE UNTOUCHABLE than fat/ugly people – the homeless!

Maybe that’s cynical. I mean, Karber is just trying to show Jeffries that his product is not too good for homeless people, right? I guess you could say that (mindlessly), if Karber didn’t first tell you to purge all of your (and your friends’ and neighbors’) A&F garments from your upper-middle class closets first. In essence, these clothes are no longer good enough for us – but they are good enough for homeless people (now that we’ve been so gracious to give them away)! I guess the conclusion I draw from that isn’t one that says, “We are helping” as much as it is saying, “We are making ourselves feel really good about NOW determining these clothes are not good enough for us – by dumping them on homeless people.”

And dump he does. He literally drops the pre-determinedly disgusting clothes on peoples’ laps and forces them into their hands as they pass him on the street. He finds people who, for one reason or another have very few physical possessions, let alone a place to store said possessions, and determines that these are the people he will use to prove his point. He didn’t try to find them a size that would fit them, nor did he consider the thought that they didn’t want these nasty-ass clothes either. Apparently it didn’t even cross his mind that he was exploiting the homeless for his own cause – turning humans into clothes racks to make a point against a millionaire. I smell irony.

You know what is noble? Helping homeless people. Giving them what they need or maybe even something they want but don’t need. Not using them as both a stage and props in your crusade against a brand that would take enough of a hit if people actually cared enough to no longer buy into it. Viral videos and cleaning out your over-stuffed closets won’t change A&F, and Mike Jeffries will keep making money and will keep selling things how he likes and to whom he likes. Viral videos exploiting the homeless actually cause more harm than good. You are not the savior of the homeless, and you are not a better person because you gave the clothes that you now find super disgusting to someone else. If ever there was a good time to burn A&F garments, this would be it.

If you want to help homeless people, ACTUALLY HELP THEM. And help them the right way.

Don’t pat yourself on the back for donating your used, old, stretched out, and possibly damaged clothes to a homeless shelter.

Don’t delude yourself for one second into thinking you are doing something good or helpful – not for the movement against A&F, and certainly not for homeless people.

Don’t get caught up by this exploitative video and it’s pseudo-virtuosity of clothing the homeless in the clothes we’ve decided we are now too good for.

Don’t get swept away by the (not-so) cleverness of the script to not notice how he used these people and their situation (or lifestyle choice) to further his own opportunity for five minutes of fame against something as pathetic as a jack ass and his stupid brand.

“I can’t clothe the homeless by myself.” Right. All those homeless people were naked before you showed up, and now they are clothed, and have homes, and food, and have renounced their homeless ways, and Skid Row is now the new gentrified village where all the white upperclass people are buying new condos. Thanks to you, Greg Karber and anyone else who actually bought into this garbage. You’re a HERO.

By the way, there is something inherently racist about this video, although I’m only beginning to understand how to form those arguments properly. For now, I’ll leave those posts to people who can identify and crucify racism in its tracks better than I can.

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