Although this video is highlighting the transformation of a homeless man from an on the surface to a deeper level. To me this video is about stereotypes. About how we judge and treat someone based on what they look like. As shallow as this sounds, if we take a look into our own lives we wont have to look hard to find examples.
We tell a story at Urban Seed, and although it is an old one, and has almost entered the realm of myth. It holds a profound truth about stereotypes. It goes something like this:
There was once a man who worked on the top of end of Collins St in Melbourne. He was a successful business man, looked the part and fit in very well in the city.
He was invited to a fancy dress party at the Old Melbourne Goal. Not wanting to dress the same as everyone else he decided he would go as a homeless man. He thought he was being rather clever, given that the Old Melbourne Gaol was known for the likes of Ned Kelly and prisoners. He thought a homeless man was a good modern twist of the outsider in society.
Wanting to look the part and have the best costume he deiced to grow his beard out. He went to the op shop and found dirty hole-ly trousers. A slipper and an un-matching shoe to go with. About 3 overcoats. And he stuffed plastic bags full of rags. We wore fingerless gloves and a beanie. And even made a cardboard sign asking for money and put a bottle in a brown paper bag.
This fancy dress party happened to be after work. So the man decided to get changed at walk and then walk to the party. So he took off his nice suit and put on his ‘hobo’ costume. Then hit the streets of Melbourne at peak hour on his way to the party.
As he walked up the busy streets to the party something strange happened. He had this feeling that everyone was looking at him, but no one was looking him. Instead of having to push his way through the crowds like he normally would after work, he had all this space around him. And one person even crossed the street as he got close. This started to disturb him. Did people think he was homeless?
His suspicions were confirmed when he went to get some cigarettes to complete his outfit. As he went to go in the 7-11, the man serving from behind the counter came out and stood in the doorway stopping him from entering, and said, “you can’t come in here!”
The man was taken a back. He just wanted to get some smokes. He’d never been knocked back from a shop before. Thinking on his feet, he put his hand in his pocket and pulled out his wallet, and said “what makes you think I can’t pay?”
Immediately the shop keeper, stepped aside and let him in.
This story makes us question whether we really know who someone is. I think we all would have assumed this man was homeless had we seen him that day walking the streets.
It also highlights how we include or exclude people based on they way they look. As I feel this video is highlighting.
And finally it makes a sad point about money, and how it talks and changes everything.