ChrisMaverick dotcom

on the ALS Ice Water Challenge

Confessions of an insomniac. These are the things I think about at 3am.

I saw someone on Facebook innocuously ask earlier “exactly how does dumping ice water on your head help people with Lou Gehrig’s disease?” and I therein realized a small flaw in the whole life-meme thing. It’s sort of just become like a thing now. It’s like a giant game of telephone. It’s so big that it’s not exactly clear what the point is.

I’m sorta kinda impressed that it has managed to maintain a relationship to ALS at all. As we all know, the Internet is a connected series of tubes! So naturally, as any seven-year old knows when you play telephone with such a connected series of tubes, inevitably the message is going to change. So what was initially “the ALS Challenge to Donate $100 or Dump Ice Water on Your Head” is now sort of just “the Crazy ALS Dump Water on Your Head Challenge.” My expectation is that by about next Tuesday or so, it’s not even going to be about ALS anymore. It’s going to be “Crazy Al’s Bucket of Ice Water Challenge.”

Don’t believe me? Do you even know where the ALS challenge came from? You don’t, do you? See, game of telephone. I know because it’s after 3am and I don’t sleep, so I research stuff like that. His name is Peter Frates and he’s 29-year-old Massachusetts man with ALS. Of course, no one knows this at all. But, they know Jimmy Fallon and the Roots did it. And the Roots are cool godammit! I want to be just like them! By September, this is just going to be another one of those things like the cinnamon challenge that you see on Tosh.0.

In the meantime, it sure is amusing. Of course, I’m pretty sure any day now we’re going to start hearing reports of people dropping dead from doing this. Hypothermia. Sudden heart attacks from system shock. Pneumonia. Or, if in a case of utter irony, the ALSA gets enough money for research from all of this that they discover that the cause of ALS is a one-time sudden and drastic lowering of temperature around the brain.

It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye. Then it’s hilarious.

And that’s what I think this is all about. When my friend asked how this helped people with ALS, some people filled him in on the fact that you’re supposed to donate money if you don’t want to dump ice on your head. I on the other hand went with the more obvious thing, since most people are clearly doing the ice and not the money, then maybe, this is a way for people with ALS have a good time laughing at idiots on the internet. Who doesn’t love that. Thinking about it, I bet when Frates challenged his friends and family to do this, his thought process might have gone something like this:

You know what? Being sick kinda sucks. How can I get my idiot friends to amuse me? You know what would be awesome? A wet t-shirt contest! God, I used to love wet t-shirt contests. It’s too bad we could never get Carol to do one. Carol has amazing tits. Oh my god!!! That’s it. I bet we can tell Carol it’s for charity! Fuck yeah! Oh, umm.. . maybe we’ll raise some money too. That’d be cool. But OH MY GOD, CAROL’S TITS!

I’m sure this worked out better than he ever dreamed. Peter Frates has created the biggest wet t-shirt contest of all time. Here’s the Houston Texans Cheerleading squad jumping in on the fun.

If you’ve never been to a wet t-shirt contest… uh… it pretty much looks exactly like that. You’ll note that none of the cheerleaders actually mention anything about the money, nor do they ask the people they are challenging (Roman Reigns and Pitbull, both of whom I’m sure the girls want to see in wet t-shirts, and some local news woman from Houston) to donate, but they sure do enjoy whipping their hair around and bouncing up and down.

Well played, Peter Frates… Well played.


21 comments for “on the ALS Ice Water Challenge

  1. August 16, 2014 at 7:32 am

    Exactly! Well said

  2. August 16, 2014 at 8:14 am

    Not to throw ice on your position, but bringing attention to a cause does at least have something of a generating-money effect (before it spirals out of control in Internet-telephone anyway):

  3. August 16, 2014 at 8:19 am

    I know a great way to raise awareness of this disease. Start calling it Lou Gehrig’s Disease again. That nomenclature was the best thing ever for awareness and the move towards using the official name pretty much destroyed that awareness.

  4. August 16, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Plus, Steve calls out John Barrowman. HAH. Thanks Mav 🙂

  5. August 16, 2014 at 9:28 am

    I was pretty down on the whole ice bucket challenge thing until I saw the statistics. It’s raised a shocking amount of money, so now I’m wondering if we can get some more crazy memes going… dump chocolate sauce on your head to raise awareness for the homeless.

  6. August 16, 2014 at 9:40 am

    To be clear, I’m not saying I have a problem with people doing it. Its not obviously from the FB version of this post because it doesn’t get my links like my blog version does, but I actually did link to articles that make it clear that Reuven is right, this has allegedly raised over $4,000,000 or something.

    On the contrary, I’m actually quite amused by the whole thing.

    But Marli is right. Why are we stopping here? I hereby propose that we start a campaign of Jello Wrestling for UNICEF!

  7. August 16, 2014 at 9:46 am

    (Sorry, I didn’t realize there were missing links. But I know how you research, so did that in case 3a caused lapses.)
    Pie-in-the-face for Diabetes!

  8. August 16, 2014 at 9:46 am

    It’s genius. The perfect way to raise money for a good cause and make America look absolutely ridiculous.

  9. August 16, 2014 at 9:47 am

    Lauren: and you get to see wet boobies! isn’t that what you’ve always wanted?

  10. August 16, 2014 at 9:48 am


  11. August 16, 2014 at 9:49 am

    To be clear, I’m with my 2yr old nieces, so I didn’t have time to actually *read* your article. Just comment on it in ignorance. 😉

  12. August 16, 2014 at 9:52 am

    Marli: It’s grownups getting water dumped on their heads! I bet this is exactly the kind of schadenfreude that two year olds would love!

  13. August 18, 2014 at 12:14 am

    I only have a few comments on this overall…

    @Michael Strauss, I’m 29, I have absolutely no clue what Lou Gehrig’s Disease is or who Lou Gehrig is. That being said, if somebody said “Dump Water on your head blah blah blah Lou Gehrig’s Disease Challenge”, I’d be like “Ohhh… I heard of that.” and not even bother to actually look it up. On the flipside, I looked up ALS because I had never heard of the term before, and found out about it and it was like “It’s also referred ot as Lou Gehrig’s disease.” and I went “Ohhh… so that’s what Lou Gehrig’s disease is.”

    Aside from that, it’s definitely raising awareness. But Chris is right, give it a few months, and then it’ll just become a “thing you do” like wearing Pink for breast cancer awareness, because nobody at all knows about breast cancer, right? Awareness only goes so far, once everyone is aware, you kind of have to take the next step that actually involves hard work/effort/donations.

    Finally, as Chris mentioned, way more people are doing the challenge than not, and sure you CAN modify the challenge and say “Ok, so if you do the challenge then you have to donate like 10 dollars or some amount smaller than 100.” I’ve seen people do that. But, the way the original challenge is worded makes it sound kind of terrible like “Do this terrible thing you don’t want to do or give some organization that you normally wouldn’t give two shits about $100, pick whichever you feel is the lesser evil.” Maybe that’s just me being cynical though, but it just feels like a mixed message.

  14. August 18, 2014 at 1:20 am

    So just to chime in a little bit here. The “challenge” didn’t actually start with Frates. It was going well before that, Frates however attached it to ALS and had the ties to make it much more popular by introducing it to a more famous crowd. You are supposed to donate regardless it’s just more if you opt out of the ice water $10 vs $100 (even more for celebs now). As far as the ice water portion of it, it just makes it more effective, a video posting of “I donated and now you do it too” isn’t gonna go viral, it’s all about making it stick in your head. They are over 10,000,000 over the same time frame in donations as last year and over 200,000 new donating people in the last 2 weeks I believe.

  15. August 24, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    Having now read your thoughts on the ALS challenge, here is proof you were correct:

  16. August 24, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    I saw images from that earlier. Seriously. I am a prophet. Why do people not listen to me?

  17. August 24, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    My only interest was in wet tshirts (boobs) and there clearly was not enough, at least not within my circle of FB friends…maybe I need more friends or new friends. Cause I support the hel out of any cause for boobs

  18. August 24, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    I find it funny that not even the video crew or director (guy putting up the dinner/money or whatever to make this happen, because you know it’s not kindness, or even answering a challenge) told them the truth of this. Or even care that this has pretty much hit what you said Chris. Just wow…

  19. August 24, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    It has raised over 50 MILLION dollars. This time last year they raised about 2 million. Yes it is silly, but it also cuts out the middleman. Chris, pick a charity, do your wet-t contest, and keep the spirit of giving going. There is no down side to either…

  20. August 25, 2014 at 9:54 am

    I wish I were surprised by the number of people shitting in this particular punchbowl.

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